Location: Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Dedicated to: Lord Shiva (Sundareswarar) & Goddess Parvati (Meenakshi)
Architecture: Madurai Main, Madurai, Tamil Nadu 625001
Phone no: 0452 234 4360
Architect: Viswanatha Nayak
Significance: This sacred temple is celebrated for being the abode of Goddess Parvati
How to Reach: One can easily reach the temple from Madurai by taking a local bus or a rickshaw or by taking a taxi.
The most important festival celebrated at the temple premises is the divine marriage ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi known as "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam". This festival is celebrated every year in the month of April with full fervour and zeal. Also the Fridays falling in the Tamil months of Aadi (15th of July to 17th of August) and Thai (15th of January to 15th of February) are observed with great enthusiasm. Other than that Shivratri and Navaratri are special festivals celebrated here.
Meenakshi Amman temple is one of the most important temples of the country and is situated in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Madurai has its own domestic air port that makes it easy for the devotees to reach to the temple from far off places. This airport is also connected to the major cities of India that adds to the ease of travelling to this sacred temple. The spell-binding architecture of the Meenakshi temple has registered its name among one of the Seven Wonders of the World as revealed in the new list. A great many of devotees come every year to visit the temple and take the blessings of Goddess Meenakshi.
The temple is dedicated to celebrating the existence of Lord Shiva (Sundareshwar) and Goddess Parvati (Meenakshi). Whereas Sundereshwar refers to the beauty of the Lord Shiva, Meenakshi means the fish-eyed Goddess. The place where this temple stands is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva or Sundareshwar came to marry Goddess Parvati.
As per the legend, it is believed that, Indira, the king of Gods discovered the great Suyambulingam which was later enshrined in Madurai by him. This fact is proven by the fact that Lord Shiva is seen in the temple wandering around in Lord Indira's vehicle. In 1310 the temple was almost completely vanished after the invasion of Islamic conqueror Malikkapur. During the invasion, a great number of the ancient sculptures have been destroyed by the Islamic rulers following the intolerance for the other religions. The temple has also its mention in many of the ancient songs that plays as a testimony to its existence in the 7th century. Later in the 14th century the temple was restored to its normal when a Hindu ruler came back to the thrown in Madurai. The King Thirumalai Naicker is believed to have played an important role in rebuilding the temple and that period is considered as an era of renaissance for the history of the temple.
The temple has been built in the area of around 45 acres and there are around twelve towers or Gopurams which are decorated beautifully and attractively. The main sanctum of the temple is considered to be more than 3500 years old 2while the other outer and inner constructions of the temples are believed to be 1500- 2000 years old. The tallest of these towers is around 170 feet in height. The dimension of the temple measure around 254 by 237 metres.
While the temple has a very old history, it is the 17th century when the present structure of the temple was built. Aayiram Kaal Mandapam is a gigantic hall with thousands of pillars all around with astonishing sculptures. The other one is the 'Kalyana Mandapa' which is believed to be the area where the marriage ceremony of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated in the month of April in a grand ceremony.
The temple has been built following the Dravidian style which is considered as the most classic structure style of South India.
There are in total 12 gigantic Gopurams in the temple, of which four have been built in the four directions. There are also four main Gopurams at the entrance of the temple, these have been hevily and beautifully carved. The temple authorities get these gopurams cleaned after every 12 years.
This one is a holy pond in the temple, and the devotees believe it go around the pond sacred before making an entrance into the temple premises. Potramarai Kulam means a body of water with lily flowers. The fact that thsi pond has been blessed by Lord Shiva that no marine life will arrow in the pond is prevalently known.
As per a legend, it is believed that Lord Sundareshwar an incarnation of lord Shiva appeared on Earth to marry Meenakshi an incarnation of Goddess Parvati. Parvati has appeared on the Earth in advance as a daughter of Malayadwaja Pandya, the ruler of Madurai, after a lot of penance. When Goddess Parvati grew up, he came up to marry her