Updated May 25, 2023
Sri Meenakshi Temple at Madurai
Amongst the famous significant temples in India, the Madurai Meenakshi Temple temple holds a prestigious position. This Hindu temple represents several symbols that portray South Indian culture on Earth. Ma Meenakshi and Lord Shiva, also known as the “Mathura of South India” by travelers, reign as the ruling deities in this temple. The temple is the epitome of traditional architecture with stunning artwork. It is on the southern bank of the river named Vaigai in Madurai.
Background and History
Historians assert that the Meenakshi temple, constructed during the reign of the Pandyan dynasty, is the oldest temple in South India. The then king of this dynasty was Kulashekarar Pandyan. King Kulashekarar built the temple when he saw Lord Shiva in his dream. Therefore, he instructed the artisans to create the temple with Hindu writings about Lord Shiva and Meenakshi during the 5th century. However, this temple was destroyed during the 16th Century Mughal period and was again reconstructed. Of India’s seven marvels, Meenakshi Temple is highly noteworthy.
The architectural details and fascinating sculptures present in this largest temple in South India attract several tourists every year from the world. The intricate design on this temple’s walls are incredible; several Hindu gods and goddesses images in the temple with religious writings. Apart from Lord Shiva and Meenakshi, there are separate chambers for other gods like Ganesha, Laxmi, Murugan, Saraswati, and many more. The whole temple structure looks like a mandala from the top view. It consists of Gopurams and Mandapams inside the premises.
Meenakshi Temple’s Main Gopurams
The Madurai Meenakshi Temple comprises 14 principal Gopurams. Of which 4 are similar high structures/towers. Other gopurams act as a doorway toward every chamber of deities in Meenakshi Temple. Each building represents a mythological story and painting.
Some of the essential Gopurams are as below:
#1 Kadaka Gopuram
This was reconstructed during the middle of the 16th century by Tumpichi Nayyar. It has five entrances that go towards the main temple of Meenakshi.
#2 Sundareswarar Gopuram
It acts as a gateway toward the house of lord Shiva in this temple.
#3 Mottai Gopuram
It is the most ancient area inside the temple without any ceiling or roof.
#4 Chitra Gopuram
This Gopuram is to illustrate the spiritual core of Hinduism.
Mandapams in the Meenakshi Temple
Several column hallways are present in this Madurai Meenakshi Temple. These are known as Mandapams. Earlier, when tourists visited this temple, these mandapams were used for resting.
A few of the popular mandapams are as follows;
#1 Ayirakkal Mandapam
This area consists of 985 pillars and is known as a hall of thousand of posts. Paintings of mythological characters are present on each of these pillars. Beside this hall, there is a holy lake called Porthamarai Kulam. The worshippers arrive here to take a sacred bath in this pond. Porthamarai Kulam is also famous for its golden lotus structure centrally placed in it.
#2 Kilikoondu Mandapam
The mandapam housed several parrots, which were caged and trained to collectively call out “Meenakshi.”Many holy characters from Mahabharat are present on this specific mandapam’s walls.
#3 Ashta Shakthi Mandapam
Eight deity artworks, Known as “Astha Shakti,” are present in this space.
#4 Nayaka Mandapam
It is the dance hall area consists of the Nataraj statue. This mandapam was created by Chinnappa Nayakkar.
Interesting Facts About Madurai Meenakshi Temple
The hidden magical facts about the Meenakshi Temple are as follows;
- The temple has artwork and pieces of literature on the Shilpa Shastra. The fact that this Hindu temple was constructed solely by Indra Deva serves as a significant indication to historians and researchers.
- There are 14 multiple gateways to enter Meenakshi Temple. Moreover, at the entrance, two substantial golden statues are present. All over the walls of this temple have 33,000 and more inscriptions.
- The temple’s giant hall with thousand pillars construction astonishes every traveler. The structure of the pillars is one solid granite block. It is why Meenakshi Temple is in nominations for one of the critical seven wonders in India of the 30 contenders.
- The deity of Meenakshi in the temple will be green because of the use of green stone. People also consider Meenakshi as a menstrual Goddess here. The ancient story of the Meenakshi temple states that Meenakshi, or Parvati, was born with three breasts.
The tranquility and vibrant streets of Madurai attract tourists. You can explore every corner of Madurai with historical essence. The Meenakshi Temple is one of the most important religious places in Madurai. You can visit this temple anytime during the year and witness the brilliant artwork.
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