Madurai Meenakshi Temple


The magnum opus of India's 'Athens of the East' Madurai city lays in its beautiful ane revered or. The sprawling and majestic temple complex enshrinig Lord Sundareshwara (Shiva) and his fish eyed wife Meenakshi is one of the oldest temples in the country and is an hallmark of ancient Tamil culture. The creation of the temple originally built by Kulasekara Pandya is however credited to the endeavors of the Nayak emperors.

The majestic Meenkshi Temple is enclosed within a high-walled crenellated structure. The focal point of the temple complex is the revered sanctum of Lord Sundareshwara and his spouse Meenakshi flanked by several small and ornate stucco shrines. The intricate temple architecture is one of a kind and is an amalgam of 12 imposing gopuras or towering gateways leading to the cardinal points and the core temples and the 12 nine-storied temple towers whose walls depict sculpted deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in vibrant hues. The chief temple tower landmarks include the:
  • East Tower
  • South Tower
  • West Tower
  • North Tower portraying the elaborately sculpted sudhai figurines.
Each of the shrines of the stately sanctum narrates a different story. At the eastern entrance the impressive Ashta Shakthi Mandapam is located. This grand hallway served the purpose of an eating-place for the devotees visiting the shrine. Built by the wives of emperor Thirumalai Nayakar, the statuettes recount the tale of Lord Shiva's genius and heroism and the story of his wife princess Meenakshi's maiden life.

Adjacent to the Ashta Shakthi Mandapam rests the Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam whose pillars portray a unique animal Yalli, possessing a lion's body and an elephant's head.

The temple complex also houses a golden lotus tank, the Potramaraikulam in whose holy waters devotees would take a dip in to absolve themselves of all their sins.

The Oonjal Mandapam, located at the tank's western extremity comprises of a swing and parrot cage. Every Friday the deities are placed on the swing while the devotees surround them chanting holy hymns. The trained parrots that keep chanting Meenakshi's name further enhance the charm of the Oonjal Mandapam.

The beauty of the Swami Sundareswarar Shrine sited near the legendary Kadamba tree, the foyer Velli Ambalam containing an idol of Lord Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance) adorned in silver leaves, the aesthetic thousand pillar Mandapam depicting Dravidian figurines, the Musical pillars which strike a melodious note and the Vanta- Mandapam (the hall which celebrates Holi) cannot be expounded by mere words.

Several festivals like the Chithirai, Avanimool, Navarathri and Float Festival are celebrated with gaiety in the temple premises.

Meenakshi Temple, a hallmark of ancient history and traditional customs is a must see destination of India.

Last Updated on: 7/05/2013