Popularly known as Float Festival and traditionally as Theppotsav, this one is a religious Hindu festival that is celebrated in most parts of South India, but mainly in the Madurai city of Tamil Nadu.
Madurai is one of the oldest cities in India with its age-old culture and beauty intact. The city is celebrating the Float festival since the 17th century when people just started to worship the deities by taking them on a boat ride in the artificial lake made near an ancient temple.
Float Festival is celebrated at the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple which is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi who is believed to be the reincarnation of Goddess Parvati.
This noted festival's dates change basis the Thai calendar aka Tamil Calendar. It is celebrated on a full moon night between the months of January and February. In 2021, the festival is believed to be starting from 28 January.
History of Float Festival
It was King Thirumala Nayaka who came up with this event during the 17th century. It is believed that the king had built a palatial mansion during the construction of which a large area of land was dug up for brick making.
Later, the king ordered the construction of a lake on that part of the land, spread across 5 kilometres. The water for the lake, which is known as Teppakulam, was taken from the Vaigai River.
The lake is situated on the eastern side of the Meenakshi Temple. And, it was King Nayaka only who started the custom of taking the holy idols for a boat ride in the tank on his birthday which is now celebrated as Float Festival.
1. Ritual of the Festival. At dawn, a procession of the idols of Lord Sundareshwar and Goddess Meenakshi are carried out, starting from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. These deities are then taken to the tank in gold-coloured palanquins accompanied by elephants, horses, musicians and a huge number of devotees.
They are then placed in a mandapam on the banks of the Teppakulam lake for the devotees to worship them. After a few hours, the idols are again carried in palanquins on a raft-like structure which is colourfully decorated with different flower garlands, paper lanterns, etc.
2. The Evening Charm. The entire month of this festival, Teppakulam Lake looks mesmerizing. Around thousands of people come to this tank to experience the extravaganza of the Float Festival of Tamil Nadu.
In the evening, the lake looks even more enchanting. Decorated with fairy lights and oil lamps, the lake looks nothing short of a paradise and the reflection of lights and lamps in the lake water makes it look even more appealing.
Apart from the splendorous Float Festival in Madurai, one can explore other heritage walks of the city as well such as Tiruparankundram Temple which is just 8 kilometres away from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Here are a few travel options for you to explore to reach this picturesque location.
By Air. The nearest airport would be the Madurai Airport which is approximately 11 kilometres away from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The airport is well-connected to the metropolitan cities in India such as Mumbai and Bengaluru and even international flights from Colombo and Sri Lanka arrive at this airport.
By Road. Madurai is one of the three largest cities in Tamil Nadu, hence, road connectivity is quite good in this region. It is served by government and private operated buses. Apart from that, you can take a tour of the local destinations by auto-rickshaws as well.
You can reach Madurai through National Highways 7, 45B, 49, 85, and 208. If you are a travel enthusiast and willing to take road trips from distant areas like North, West or East India, then it can be a bit tiring but the road connectivity in India has become such that you will find it to be a cakewalk.
By Rail. Madurai has its own railway station namely Madurai Junction Railway Station which is approximately 1 kilometre away from Meenakshi Amman Temple. Trains from Dindigul, Thiruchirapalli, Siva Gangai, and Virudhunagar frequently arrive and depart from here.
Apart from this, the station also receives trains from Delhi (TN SMPRK KRNTI EXP, Thirukkural EXP, DDN MDUSF EXP), Mumbai (Dadar Ten EXP, Nagarcoil EXP), Kolkata (Kanyakumari EXP), and Bengaluru (Nagarcoil Exp, Tirunelveli Exp).
You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here