Meenakshi Amman Temple is an ancient and one amongst the most important temples of India. Located in the holy city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi Temple can be reached easily by the means of local transport from Madurai. The city comprises its own domestic airport that is connected with all the major cities of India. Renowned for its astonishing architecture, Meenakshi Amman Temple has been nominated for the new Seven Wonders of the World. Hundreds and thousands of devotees come every year to pay their obeisance of the Lord.
Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple is dedicated to Sundareswar (form of Lord
Shiva) and Meenakshi (form of Goddess Parvati). The term "Sundareswar"
suggests "the beautiful lord" and "Meenakshi" means "the
fish-eyed goddess". As per the Hindu folklore, Madurai is the same
city where Lord Sundareswar (Shiva) appeared to marry Goddess Meenakshi
(Parvati). Meenakshi Temple is regarded as one of the most sacred places
of Parvati, other being Kamakshi at Kanchipuram, Akilandeswari at
Thiruvanaikaval and Vishalakshi at Varanasi.
At the center of the sanctum sanctorum, the shrine of Shiva embraces the
site. It is a famous image of Nataraja (Dancing form of Lord Shiva) on a
massive silver altar. The shrine is also known as Velli Ambalam (Silver
abode). In the proximity, there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
Known as Mukuruny Vinayakar, the temple adores the idol that was found
during the excavation made in Temple Lake. On the left side of Shiva,
the shrine of Goddess Meenakshi appears enchanting with quite less
Sprawled in an area of 45 acres, the temple complex comprises not less
than twelve superlative gopurams (towers), which are richly sculptured
and decorated. The tallest tower rises to the extent of 170 feet. The
main sanctum sanctorum is believed to be more than 3500 years old. The
fortifications and other outer construction are estimated to be
1500-2000 years old. The colossal structure of the temple has got the
dimensions of 254 by 237 meters.
Having history of thousands of years, the present structure of the
temple got erected in the early 17th century. Aayiram Kaal Mandapam is a
thousand pillared hall, which is prominent due to its class sculptures.
The hall is truly a marvel of architecture and definitely
worth-visiting. 'Kalyana Mandapa' is the hall, where the marriage of
Shiva and Parvati is observed every year in the Hindu month of 'Chaitra'
In the temple, Potramarai Kulam is a consecrated pond where devotees go
around before entering the main shrine. The term "Potramarai Kulam"
suggests "the pond with a golden lily". It is said that Lord
Shiva blessed this pond and acclaimed that no marine life would grow in
it. In the Tamil folklore, the pond is believed to be an evaluator for
reviewing the worth of a new literature.
Meenakshi Thirukalyanam (The divine marriage of Meenakshi) is the most
important festival that is observed with full fervor at the temple.
Every year, the festival falls in the month of April. Besides this
festival, occasions like Navratri and Shivratri are also celebrated with
full enthusiasm. In the vein of other Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the
Fridays of the Tamil months of Aadi (July 15 - Aug 17) and Thai (Jan 15
to Feb 15) are also commemorated here.
According to a mythological legend, Lord Sundareswar (Shiva) appeared on
the earth in order to marry Goddess Meenakshi, who is believed to be an
incarnation of Parvati. In advance, Parvati appeared in the form of an
infant after the great penance of Malayadwaja Pandya (the ruler of
Madurai). When the girl grew up, Lord descended on the earth to propose
her. The grand marriage was observed and it was assumed to be the
biggest event on the earth. Lord Vishnu had to attend the marriage of
her sister Meenakshi, but on the way he was tricked by Lord Indra and
The marriage took place at Madurai and angered Lord Vishnu swore never
to visit the city. He settled on the nearby hill of Alagar Koil.
Ultimately, he was conciliated by the other Gods and he came to bless
the celestial couple. Upkeeping the traditions, the marriage and
Vishnu's pacification are celebrated as the major festivals in Madurai
till date. The celestial couple is regarded to have ruled Madurai for a
long time. After they left the world, it is not apparent that what
actually happened. As per another legend, Shivalingam was discovered by
Lord Indra, who built the initial temple.
The origin of the temple is not clearly identified, though Tamil
literature boasts about the temple for the last duo of millenniums.
Meenakshi Temple is said to have been ransacked by Malik Kafur, who
damaged all the ancient elements (a Muslim invader) in 1310. In the 17th
century, the temple was rebuilt by Arya Natha Mudaliyar, who was the
Prime Minister of the first Nayak of Madurai. Afterwards, Thirumalai
Nayak made additional contributions to the structure.