In Search of the Roots, is tailor made to offer a wide range of experience spanning through several centuries of history. The city of Madurai has been an active venue from time immemorial. The recent excavations around the city has only taken back the possible time period of habitation. Celebrated in many poems of Sangam classics, the city has seen growth, destruction and reorganization viciously. We will travel to sites of incredible historical importance guided by MadhusudhananKalaichelvan, oneof the most well informed and scholarly subject matter experts. Madhusudhanan is the Chief Curator for Swarajya Heritage. He is an architect, conservationist, painter, epigraphist and has been conducting guided heritage tours through Road Access to Temples Heritage And Monuments(RATHAM).
Spread across 2 days we shall get to soak in antiquity and travel through several phases of history of the south India. Archaeology, culture, social setup, language, arts and crafts etc., shall be our chosen tool to understand and appreciate the rich flavor of Madurai, one of the most ancient city of India.
We begin the journey from Meenakshi temple after breakfast. The temple tour will take you around the long corridors built predominantly during the 16th-17th century by the Madurai Nayak kings. Stories, traditional tales, historic records, inscriptions, temple traditions and festivals shall be discussed followed by a darshan of God and the Goddess. The forenoon session will be completed after a quick visit to the TirumalaiNayak Palace, a palatial mansion built in 17th century with a unique architectural blend of south India and the Rajput style.
We will be visiting theThirupparamkundram temple, a classic example of cave temple excavated in the 7th century by the Pandya kings. With its unique arrangements of shrines, stunning bas-relief sculptures, massive halls (that were added later) the temple is a classic understand the development of temple architecture in Tamil Nadu. We will close the day with a serving of Jigarthanda, a local flavor and a must try.
We depart from the hotel post breakfast and visit AlagarKoil, an ancient temple dedicated to Vishnu as Alagar, the most handsome. Situated at the foothills of AlagarMalai reserved forests, the temple finds mention in classic tamil poems and texts like the Mahabaratha. One of the 108 shrines sanctified by the sacred verses of the Alwar saints, the deity is extremely popular among the local residents in and around Madurai. The Madurai Nayak style architecture contributed immensely to the temple as it is seen today. The deep fried dosa offered to the deity is a special delicacy here. The annual festival that happens on the full moon night of Chithrai month (mid April-mid May) sees several lakhs of devotee travel along with the Lord for almost a week when He visits the Vaigai river in the vicinity of Madurai city.
We will also be visiting a handloom center specializing in the sungudi saree weaving and Vilachery, a village that makes clay dolls that are used for kolu display during Navarathri.