Mayiladuthurai is around 281 km from Chennai capital of Tamil Nadu. Mayiladuthurai is known for the Mayuranathaswami Temple, a prominent Shaivite shrine. The town situated on the banks of the river Cauvery has numerous, noteworthy Hindu temples making it a popular pilgrimage destination.
Mayiladuthurai gets its name from the Mayura or Mayil (peacock) form in which the Hindu goddess Parvathi worshipped the Hindu god Shiva at this place. The Mayuranathaswami Temple dedicated to the goddess Parvathi is one of the most important Hindu temples in the town. There is a statue depicting goddess Parvathi in a peahen form worshipping a linga, the symbol of the god Shiva to the west of the eastern wall of the temple.
The temple complex is 719 feet long and 52 ft wide. The gopura at the eastern entrance to the temple is nine storeys high and measures 194 feet. The idol of Durga near the northern entrance of the temple is expertly sculpted and differs from those in other temples. The Mayuranathaswami and Dakshinamoorthi temples are built in the Dravidian style of architecture. Within the Mayuranathaswami temple, there is a carving of a devotee of Shiva trying to cut off his own head as an offering to the God. The Dakshinamoorthi shrine houses an idol of the God Dakshinamoorthi mounted on a Nandhi. There is another idol of Nandhi at the bathing ghat on the Cauvery River.
Temples like Sri Vadhanyeshwar temple, Punugiswarar Temple, Gangai Konda Cholapuram and Kurukai Sivan Temple attract devotees from across South India. Nine temples, one for each of the "navagraha" form a pilgrim circuit that devotees regularly embark on. Tharangambadi, Pichavaram mangrove forest, Tirumullaivasal, Palaiyar and Karaikkal are the most prominent tourist attractions located around the town.
Thirunageswaram, near Kumabkonam dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lord Rahu however takes the spotlight as milk abhishekham performed every day at rahukaalam is a miracle in itself. The milk poured over the statue starts out white, turns blue as it passes over the idol and turns white again as it reaches the floor. This temple is also one of the few temples that depict Lord Rahu with his consorts. Keezhaperumpallam near Thiruvenkadu is dedicated to Lord Kethu. Also known as Vanagari, the temple idol, Lord Kethu is depicted as having the head of a snake and the body of an Asura.
Mayiladuthurai is of considerable antiquity and cultural and religious significance. The town must have originated in the Medieval Chola period though there are suburbs which predate the town itself. Mayiladuthurai was ruled by the Early Cholas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas before it was annexed by the British East India Company along with the rest of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom in 1799. It rose to be an important town during British rule when it formed a part of Tanjore district.