MEENAKSHI AMMAN TEMPLE MADURAI
HISTORY OF MEENAKSHI AMMAN TEMPLE MADURAI
Meenakshi Amman Temple occupies the centre of the city. The Temple is almost is a regular rectangle, two of its. Sides from north to South measure 720 feet and 729 feet. The two east to West sides measures 834 feet and 852 feet. It has a double shrine as it is called. One devoted to Lord Sundareswara and the other to his consort Goddess Meenakshi. The two shrines face east. The temple is traced in puranas, both Sanskrit and Tamil. There was at first a Siva Lingam under a Kadamba tree in a forest. The earliest worshipper of this Lingam wasIndians who built the sanctum. Sanctorium and a Vimanam about it. Amarchant by the name Dhananjayan came across this temple and passed on the infroamtion to Kulasekara Pandiyan who was then ruling the Pandya Kingdom.
Kulasekrara cleared the forest around the temple and built a town. This was the town of Maduai. It may be assumed that the origin of the temple and the town of Madurai were roughly 3600 years ago. Though the records telling the origin of the temple as Siva’s, the temple is famous for Meenakshi Amman and the temple itself is named after her. Percy Brown and other historians.
Percy Brown and other historians are of opinion the practice of building a separate Amman Temple was began only in the 13th century during the Vijayanagar period. The literature of the Pre Christian Sangam Period speaks of Madurai. The devotional hymns of the Nayanmars venerate Somasundarar – or Alavayar of Madurai. The most amazing feauture of this temple is the fact that is a living legend absorbing traditions for over millennia. In its finished form, it represents the marvelous resilience of the Indian culture methods.
The origin of the temple goes back to legendary times only a shrine of Siva and the wall surrounding it were existing in the 7th Century A.D. The shrine of Meenakshi was built during the reign of Chandayavarman Sundara Pandyan in the 12th Century. The nine storeyed towers were constructed between the 13th and 16th century.
The temple has grown in size during the course of six centuries from A.D. 1190. Under the patronage of the Second Pandyan empire, the vijayanagar empire and the Nayak of Madurai in succession. During the Pandyanrule, the sanctums of the lord and the Goddess with their roofedenclosures and a number of gopuras had come up. Among these rulers, Jatavarman Kulasekara I (A.D.1119-1273), Maravarman Sundara Pandya I (A.D.1216 – 1238) and Maravarman Sundara Pandya II (A.D.1238 – 1253) contributed towards major additions.
Kumara Kampana retrieved back Madurai from the Muslims in 1271 A.D. and arranged for the revival of worship in the temple. During Vijayanagar rule, steps were taken to enlarge the temple complex. But it was only during the reign period of the Nayak at Madurai, the temple had a memorable growth through a number of additions. The contribution of the rulers and other individual families during the Nayak rule over a period of two hundred years helped the evolution of the temple complex in steady but organized manner giving an impression that all the structures in the temple had come up in one generation under a master plan. Consequently during the 19th century A.D. a phased programme of renovation work was carried out by the Vaiyaragavan Chetti family who after completing the renovation celebrated the Kumbhabhisekam on 6th February 1878.
1 .T. Pergussion, History of Indian and Eastern Architecuture Vol – 1 p.392
2 .D.Devakunjari, Madurai, through the Ages,, 1957, p.200