Religious journey to Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the oldest and biggest temples of India. Located on the banks of the River Vaigai, Meenakshi temple complex is like a city within Madurai city in Tamilnadu.  A 2500 years old temple is dedicated to the deity Meenakshi, the manifestation of Goddess Parvati, and her consort Sundareswarar the Lord Shiva. It’s not only your religious excursion to worship Goddess Meenakshi but an opportunity to find your inner self and peace in divine serenity of the temple complex.

Meenakshi temple

How to reach

Madurai has airport and regular flights from major Indian cities such as Chennai, Banglore and Coimbatore. Madurai is well connected by trains from everywhere in India. The temple is 2 km from the railway station. It’s well connected by road as well. Madurai is 464 km from Chennai by road.

Worship Time

The temple opens in the morning 5.00 with Thiruvanandal Puja that goes up to 6 am. Between the usual worship timings of 5am to 12.30pm and 4pm to 10pm, several poojas are done which are no less than festivities. The Chithirai Annual Festival organized in months of April-May for 12 days is one celebration to view and enjoy at Meenakshi Temple.

Chithirai Annual Festival

Historical Facts about the temple complex

  • The temple complex has always been lifeline to Madurai city
  • The temple is believed to be built by Indra the celestial deity
  • Present design is attributed to the rulers Nayakas who ruled between 16th and 18th
  • Redesigned in 16th century by Nayakas after its destruction in early 14th century by Khiljis.



Temple

The temple complex is spread in 45acre area, 4 entrances on 4 directions. It’s surrounded by 14 Gopurams-the gateway towers, tallest being 172 feet (52m). Each Gopuram has the sculptured face right up to the top with filled up colorful divinity figures. The central shrine precincts of Meenakshi Amman temple and her consort Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and each of these are protected by four smaller towers at the four places of four directions. The Meenakshi shrine has the emerald-hued black stone idol of the deity Meenakshi.  Sundareswarer temple is in the central of the complex and is much larger area than main deity Meenakshi temple. The sculpting of divine figures and carving on walls are amazing spectacles not to miss. A large single stone sculpture is standing on the way to Meenakshi temple from here. It’s called ‘Mukkuruny Vinayakar’, said to be found in 17th century excavation.

Mukkuruny Vinayakar’

Hall of 1000 pillars

There is a huge hall of 1000 pillars ‘Aayiram Kaal Mandapam’ as it’s called, in reality there are 985 pillars.  Some of these pillars are musical pillars, when you tap each pillar they sound differently. All the pillars have sculptures of dancing figures and other carvings.

Aayiram Kaal Mandapam’

Golden Lotus tank

Golden Lotus tank or ‘Pottramarai  Kulum’ is the tank where lotus flower grow, and myth recalls of Indra using lotus from same pond to do mahayagya. Shiva is known to bless the pond hence no marine life is there in the pond. One funny myth to test the literature is also known to occur here, good literature floats and bad literature sinks.

Golden Lotus tank

Temple museum

 Inside the complex, the temple museum has vast collection of idols, figures and sculptures. It’s amazing to observe when one is there in the complex.

Advice:

 Wear proper clothes preferably Indian clothing while visiting the temple. No short clothes are allowed. Also do not carry objectionable things such as knife, matchbox and cigarettes.

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