Madurai is one of the ancient cities of the world. Its history goes several centuries before Christ. Tamil and Greek documents record its existence from 4th century BC. The city is situated on the banks of River Vaigai. The Pandyans ruled Madurai until 10th century AD. This was the golden era of Tamil culture, literature and learning. Then Madurai changed hands with Cholas, Pandyas, Muslim rulers, Vijayanagar rulers and finally the Madurai Nayaks under whom Madurai became the cultural center of Tamils.
Madurai is situated about 472km from Chennai. One can reach Madurai by road, rail or air. Flights from Chennai, Bangalore and Trichy connect Madurai by air.
The landmark of Madurai is the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple dedicated to Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Kulasekhara Pandya originally built the temple. But the credit for making the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayak dynasty that ruled Madurai from 16th - 18th centuries. It is a twin temple; one dedicated to Meenakshi and the other to Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva). The rectangular temple is graced by twelve gopurams (towers). The southern gopuram is the tallest and rises to 49m. The thousand-pillared hall has beautiful sculptures. The temple is a fitting example of Dravidian temple architecture.
This huge temple tank is about 5km from the temple. The mandapam in the center of the tank has an idol of Vinayaka (Lord Ganesh)
The museum is housed in an old palace of Rani Mangammal. The government museum is also located on the same grounds.
Koodal Alagar Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and it is as old as Madurai. Vishnu is depicted in three postures - standing, sitting and reclining one over the other.
21km from Madurai and situated at the bottom of the Alagar Hills, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that Vishnu came down to this place from his abode Vikunta to give away Meenakshi to Lord Sundereswarar.
Located 8km from Madurai, the temple here is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya (Murugan). It is believed that Subramanya got married to Deivayani in this place.
Known as "The Princess among Hill Stations", Kodaikanal, situated in the Nilgiris, is 120km from Madurai. It has a solar physics observatory, museum, orchidarium and Kurinji flowers that bloom once in every 12 years. Its star shaped lake is popular for boating and fishing. More...
Palani's Malaikovil (hill temple) is the most famous temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. One has to climb 650 steps to access the inner sanctum of the temple. During January, for the Taipusam, over 200,000 devotees gather at Palani. Palani is 64km from Kodai and 57km from Dindigul.
Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary
Located along the Tamil Nadu - Kerala border, the sanctuary covers about 1000sq.km. The fauna includes elephant, gaur, tiger, panther, leopard, spotted deer, bear and many species of birds. The sanctuary is open throughout the year.
Coimbatore is situated at the foot of the Nilgiri Hills in the Western Tamil Nadu. It is a highly industrialized city known as the Manchester of South India because of its production of textiles. One can arrive in Coimbatore by road, rail or air. Coimbatore is a major rail junction. Many trains operate daily to major towns of the state from here. Accommodations of different ranges are also available in and around the town.
Avanashi Lingeswarar Temple
This temple built by Cholas in the 12th century is the biggest temple in the district. The temple is located 41km from Coimbatore.
This picturesque waterfall is located 37km from Coimbatore and is the source of water supply to the town.
Referred as the "Queen of Hill Stations", Ooty is a very popular hill station that is situated in the Nilgiris. It offers spectacular scenic beauty and bracing climate.Places of interest in Ooty are botanical gardens, boat club, golf course etc. More....
Situated 50km from Coimbatore, Tirupur is a very famous textile center known for its hosiery products.
The name Salem is derived from the Sanskrit word Sailam meaning an area surrounded by hills. Salem is an important industrial area known for its stainless steel, sago industry and hand weaving. Salem is 328km from Chennai and the nearest airport is Thiruchirapalli. The town is accessible by rail and road from other parts of the state.
The town houses the Indian Institute of Handloom Technology, the second of its kind in India. The Government museum contains valuable sculptures and terracotta. Salem is also well known for its mineral wealth and its mangos.
49km from Salem the dam is constructed in a gorge, where the River Kaveri enters the plains. This is one of the largest dams in the world. It irrigates 108,400 hectares in and around Salem, Thiruchirapalli and Tanjavur districts. There is a beautiful park close to the dam.
Located 23kms from Salem in the Shevaroy range, Yercaud is a quiet restful hill resort. It is also one of the most beautiful places in the state. The cool climate with the beautiful vistas and breath-taking views makes it one of the most sought tourist destinations in the south. Killiyur Falls, Bear's Cave, Kavery Peak, Pagoda Point, and temples are some of the places of interest.
It is a picturesque pool surrounded by gardens and well wooded trees. Boating in cold water of the lake is enhancing as well as refreshing.
This 300 feet high waterfall is situated amidst picturesque surroundings.
It links the winding Ghat Road and provides a breath-taking view. Tourists can have a panoramic view of the plains below with the help of the telescope mounted at the Lady's Seat.
Located 114km from Salem on the border of Karnataka, Hogenakkal is at the confluence of River Kaveri and River Chinnar. From here the Kaveri develops a series of impressive waterfalls. The main attraction is the bath in the falls dropping verically from a height of 20m. Hogenakkal in Kannada means 'Smocking Rock' a name derived from the cloud of mist and spray that engulfs the spasm.
Tirunelveli was a popular cultural center during the reign of Pandians. It was even the Pandya capital for some time. The town is on the banks of River Tambrapani on the Madurai - Kanyakumari road. One can reach Tirunelveli by rail and road. The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram.
Kanthimathi Nellaiyappar Temple
This is a twin temple dedicated to Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva. The temple complex has a beautiful golden lily tank and a thousand pillared hall. The musical pillars and several beautiful sculptures are worth having a look at.
Kuttalam is situated 56km from Thirunelveli. It is popularly referred as the Spa of the South. Kuttalam is a major tourist attraction of the state. Situated on the Western Ghats, Kuttalam is endowed with nine waterfalls. The water of the falls is said to have curative values. The town is noted for its salubrious climate and scenic beauty. Kuttalam also has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Mundanthurai Wildlife Sancturary
Located at 45km from Tirunelveli on the Western Ghats near the Kerala border, this sanctuary covers an area of 516sq.km. Though principally a tiger reserve, it is also noted for chital, sambar, lion-tailed macaque etc.
Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary
It is situated 33 Km south of Tirunelveli in Nanguneri Taluk. This village is covered with natural forest and ponds. During Jan. -Apr., more than 10 thousand birds from countries like Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Australia will migrate here and when the season is over the birds will return.
Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary, 47km from Tirunelveli, is very popular with botanists and ornithologists as it has a great variety of fauna and birds. Animals like tiger, panther, jackal, wild-dogs and reptile population including cobra, python and several other snakes are found here. The lion-tailed macaque can be spotted at the Kalakad Sanctuary. It is a Lion-tailed macaque preserve. The best season to visit this sanctuary is between March and September.
Ramanathapuram or Ramnad is the headquarters of the district. Located at 450km by road from Chennai, the town has historical and religious importance. Ramanathapuram. It is on the rail route to Rameswaram from Madurai.
This palace was built in the late17th century and belonged to the Sethupathi Rajaswho were the traditional guardians of Rama's mythical passage to Lanka. It is the paintings in the palace those make the visit worthwhile. The huge murals in the palace are well preserved.
It is located in an island in the Gulf of Mannar, 36km from Ramnathapuram. Rameswaram is connected to the mainland at mandapam by rail and with Indira Gandhi Bridge by road. It is a major pilgrimage center for both Shaivites and Vaishnavites.
The temple is fine example of late Dravidian temple architecture. Four magnificent long corridors lined with elaborately sculptured pillars are the most renowned features of the temple. Shiva is the presiding deity. It is believed that Sri Rama built this temple. Sri Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the most revered temples in South India.
This temple is located in Danushkodi, 12km from Rameswaram. It is believed that Vibhishana, brother of Ravana who abducted Sita, surrendered to Rama at this spot.
Adams bridge is the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets those almost connect Sri Lanka with India. According to legend, these are the stepping stones used by Hanuman to access Lanka to locate Sita.
Located 3km northwest of Rameswaram, the shrine on the hillock has the footprints of Sri Rama.
South of Tutucorin on the coast is the shore temple, one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan. The original temple was built in the 9th century. But much of it was replaced during the early 20th century due to damage by salt.
Kanyakumari is the southern most extreme of the country. The district headquarters is Nagercoil. Nagercoil is about 700km from Chennai. The nearest airport is Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, 60km away. Nagercoil is connected to other parts of the state with rail and roads.
The Nagaraja Temple in Nagercoil has a shrine dedicated to Ananthakrishna (Lord Vishnu). The temple architecture resembles Chinese. Images of Jain saints Mahavira and Paravanthar have been carved on the pillars of the temple.
Kanyakumari is the land's end of peninsular India. It is in Kanyakumari where the three seas namely the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet. On the full moon day, one can watch the sunset and the moonrise simultaneously.
Kumari Amman Temple
The Kumari Amman temple is dedicated to the Virgin Goddess Kanyakumari, an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi who single handedly conquered and vanquished the demons and protected the world. The temple car festival is in May-June and the Navaratri festival in Sept.-Oct. celebrates the victory of Devi over the demons.
A portion of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi was immersed in the seas and a memorial was built over the place where the ashes were kept for public view. The memorial was designed in such a way that on the birthday of Gandhiji (2nd October) the sunrays fall on the exact spot where the ashes were kept before immersion.
The memorial is bulit on two rocky islands 400m offshore. Swami Vivekananda Sat and meditated here before setting out as one of India's most important religious reformers. The mandapam built in his memory reflects different architectural styles from allover India A ferry takes the tourist to the island.
13km by road towards Thiruvananthapuram, this temple of trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) is a repository of art treasures belonging to many dynasties. The temple has many ancient records inscribed in Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali. There is a 6m tall statue of Hanuman in the temple complex.
The capital of Travancore until 1333, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort which encloses, among other buildings, a palace and a temple. The palace has some important art relics while the Ramaswamy temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana.
located at 34km from Kanyakumari, this fort was built during the reign of Marthandavarma in the 18th century. The fort was used as a foundry to cast guns. The grave of the Dutch General De Lennoy, one of the most trusted generals of the king, lies within the fort.