1. Meenakshi Amman Temple:
Meenakshi Amman Temple, a great example of Dravidian Architecture, is the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai and one of the largest temple complexes in Tamil Nadu. The temple complex is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular enclosures contained by high masonry walls. The four streets surrounding the temple are pedestrian-only. First, have a look around the Pudhu Mandapa , the 100m-long, 16th-century pillared hall facing the gopuram. It’s filled with colourful textile and craft stalls and tailors at sewing machines, partly hiding some of the lovely pillar sculptures. A light-blue Nandi bull sits outside the mandapa’s eastern entrance. Once inside the eastern gopuram , you’ll find the Nayak-period Thousand Pillar Hall on your right. This is now an Art Museum where you can admire at your leisure a Shiva shrine with a large bronze Nataraja at the end of a corridor of superbly carved pillars, plus many other fine bronzes and colourful painted panels.
What the Meenakshi Temple is to Nayak religious architecture, Thirumalai Nayak’s palace is to the secular. This palace, built in 1636, is a classic fusion of Dravidian and Islamic styles. Although it’s said to be only a quarter of its original size, its massive scale and hybrid Dravidian-Islamic style still make quite an impression and testify to the lofty aspirations of its creator. The palace is known for its giant pillars. You enter from the east. A large courtyard surrounded by tall, massive columns topped with fancy stucco work leads through to the grand throne chamber with its 25m-high dome. Off this is a museum with stone carvings and archaeological exhibits.