Madurai Meenakshi Temple
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Meenakshi Temple or Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is located in the historic city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India.
Madurai Meenakshi temple complex is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as Sundareshwara and his wife Parvathi a.k.a Meenakshi. The huge temple complex houses 14 glorious towers (Gopurams) including two golden towers for the main deities and the tallest one is 170 ft (51.9 metres) high. This temple is an important representation for the Tamil culture, and has been remarked since the distant past in Tamil literature. This temple is one of the five noble courts (Sabai) where Lord Shiva is found performing his Cosmic Dance. This huge Nataraja sculpture is enclosed in a massive silver altar and for this reason this temple is called as 'Velli Ambalam' (The Silver abode). Meenakshi temple complex is within a high-walled structure, at the central part of which are the two sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara, surrounded by a large number of smaller shrines and majestic pillared halls. Particularly their soaring towers rise from solid granite bases, and are enclosed with stucco figures of dieties, legendary animals and monsters painted in vibrant colors.
"Madurai Meenakshi". Photo Credit: Flicker
About Madurai »
One of India's famous temple cities, Madurai is identical with the celebrated Meenakshi Temple. It is one of the oldest cities of India, with a chronicle dating all the way back to the Sangam period of the pre Christian era. Located on the banks of River Vaigai,
Madurai has a loaded cultural heritage passed on from the distinguished Tamil era more than 2500 years old. Madurai was a significant cultural and commercial centre even as early as 550 AD. It was the headquarters city for the great Pandya kings.
The Pandyan King Kulasekarar built a great temple and created a lotus shaped city around the temple. On the day the city was to be named, as Lord Shiva sanctified the land and its people, divine nectar (Madhu) was sprinkled on the city from his matted locks.
This city was hereafter known as Madhurapuri. Madurai is famous for Jasmine Flowers. The whole city of Madurai, is built around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple - the temple par excellence.
Concentric rectangular streets encircle the temple, denoting the structure of the cosmos. The memoirs of Madurai will not be complete without stating the name of Rani Mangammal, the woman of great skill and wisdom.
Even if it was considered that women were not matched to succeed the throne of a kingdom, Rani Mangammmal, conversely shines in almost solitary reputation as an able and powerful ruler in Tamil Nadu.
Madurai Meenakshi Temple »
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According to myth, the revered Suyambulingam(Self made Lingam) exposed by Indira- the king of Gods at Kadambavanam, was later protected by him in Madurai. The fact is that the Lord is seen on the Iravatha (vehicle of Indira) in this temple is said to be the proof for this.
Lots of historical proofs of this temple have been found dating back from early A.D. The initial temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the whole credit for making the temple as impressive as it is today goes to the Nayaks.
The temple was almost totally damaged in the year 1310 following the invasion of the conqueror Malik kafur and he destroyed most of the ancient sculptures of the temple. The temple was restored to its pristine glory in the late 14th century.
This can also be termed as a new beginning of a new era in the history of the temple, when it was almost rebuilt. According to records, The King Thirumalai Naicker played an important role in the construction of the new form of the temple.
The mighty Nayaks ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century and left a regal impression of their rule in the Meenakshi - Sundareswarar Temple.
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Inside The Temple »
Ashta Shakthi Mandapam
One who enters the temple through the eastern gopuram can find this Ashta Shakthi Mandapam(Hall) which was built by Thirumalai Nayakar's wives Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholimamai. Adjoining to this hall is the Meenakshi Nayaka Mandapam, a large columned hall used for shops and stores.
The sculptures on the pillars here connected some of Lord Shiva's miracles (Thiruvilayadals) and also the story of Meenakshi's life as the princess of Madurai.
The Unjal Mandapam is on the western side of the tank. Each and Every Friday in the Unjanl Mandapam, the golden idols of deities (Meenakshi and Sundareswarar) are placed on the Unjal and holy hymns are sung as the idols merrily swing to and fro.
Where in Kilikoontu Mandapam the parrots have been trained to repeat Meenakshi's name. This Mandapam also situate on the western side of the tank. But more remarkable thing are the 28 pillars of the mandapam which display some outstanding Sculptures of figures from mythology.
This golden lotus tank is a very old tank where disciples take bath in the holy water. The pillared halls around this tank were the meeting place of the Tamil Sangam (ancient Tamil academy of poets).
This Sangam judged the worth of any literature work presented before it by floating it into the tank. Only those that did not be submerged were measured worthy of attention. The tank is encircled by a pillared corridor. Steps lead down to the tank, facilitating the devotees to take bathe in the tank.
The Divine Marriage »
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The King Malayadwaja Pandya was childless for a long time. He worried and carried out a number of Homams (sacrifices made before a sacred fire) because he required an heir to his throne. On one instance, a three-year-old girl came out of the fire and the King adopted her as her daughter. But the girl had three breasts and this bothered King Malayadwaja. But, a divine voice guaranteed him that the third breast would vanish as soon as she met her husband. The girl grew into a courageous and fine-looking princess. She won many wars, but in time lost her heart to Lord Shiva, when she met him on the battle-field in Kailas. As soon as she saw him, her third breast vanished and she recognized her celestial consort, the princess was none other than Shiva's wife, Parvathi. After ruling over the Pandya kingdom for some time, they finally settled in the Madurai temple as Meenakshi and Sundareswarar.
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3D Virtual Tour of Meenakshi Temple, Madurai. Feel being there at Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple,
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