Mariamman Teppakulam is one of Madurai’s most popular tourist hubs. The Teppakulam is the largest man-made water tank in South India. Built by King Thirumalai Nayak, Mariamman Teppakulam is fed by water through ingenious underground channels from the Vaigai River.
While digging, the construction workmen unearthed a beautiful Vinayaka idol from the tank area. The sanctity of the place and the auspiciousness of the idol prompted King Thirumalai to transform the dug-out place into a huge water tank with a Vinayaka or Ganesha temple in the center. He made arrangements for the tank to be supplied by water from river Vaigai and organized the Float festival during the Tamil month of Thai (January/February).
The Float Festival, commemorating the birthday of King Thirumalai Nayak, is a colorful and picturesque festival that attracts about two thousand tourists every year. The Float Festival starts with the procession of deities – Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar – from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. At dawn, the deities start out with great pomp, escorted by temple elephants, musicians, horses, thousands of devotees and other regal paraphernalia. Decked in gold and diamonds, the deities sail through the streets of Madurai from Meenakshi Temple to Mariamman Teppakulam in golden palanquins. At the time of the Float Festival, the city of Madurai is bathed in innumerable colors, lights and rich decors. The festival is marked by fireworks displays, followed by a dramatic enactment of scenes from legends and miracles related to the deities. From oil lamps to fluorescent lights, the Teppakulam wears a blaze of lights during the full moon night. Once the festival is over, the deities are taken in a grand procession back to the main temple. Visitors travel in boats and rafts to visit and worship the Vinayaka temple in the center of Mariamman Teppakulam.