Welcome, Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.



Meenakshi Amman Temple


MeenakshiTemple, also referred to as Meenakshi Amman or Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple, is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and her consort, Sundareshwar, a form of Shiva. The temple is at the center of the ancient temple city of Madurai mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature.Though the temple has historic roots, most of the present campus structure was rebuilt after the 14th century CE, further repaired, renovated and expanded in the 17th century by Thirumalai Nayak. In early 14th century, the armies of Delhi Sultanate led by Muslim Commander Malik Kafur


plundered the temple, looted it of its valuables and destroyed the Madurai temple town along with many other temple towns of South India. The contemporary temple is the result of rebuilding efforts started by the Vijayanagara Empire rulers who rebuilt the core and reopened the temple. In the 16th century, the temple complex was further expanded and
fortified by the Nayak ruler Vishwanatha Nayakar and later others. The restored complex now houses 14 gopurams, ranging from 45–50m in height, with the southern gopura tallest at 51.9 metres. The complex has numerous sculpted pillared halls such as Ayirakkal, Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam and Pudu-mandapam. Its shrines are dedicated to Hindu deities and Shaivism scholars, with the vimanas above the garbhagrihas  of Meenakshi and Sundaresvara gilded with gold.
The temple is a major pilgrimage destination within the Shaivism tradition, dedicated to Meenakshi Devi and Shiva. However, the temple includes Vishnu in many narratives, sculptures and rituals as he is considered to be Meenakshi's brother. This has made this temple and Madurai as the "southern Mathura",one included in Vaishnava texts. The Meenakshi temple also includes Lakshmi, flute playing Krishna, Rukmini, Brahma, Saraswati, other Vedic and Puranic deities, as well as artwork showing narratives from major Hindu texts. The large temple complex is the most prominent landmark in Madurai and attracts tens of thousands visitors a day. The temple attracts over a million pilgrims and visitors during the annual 10-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, celebrated with much festivities and a ratha procession during the Tamil month of Chittirai. The Temple has been
adjudged best ‘Swachh Iconic Place’ in India as on October 1, 2017 under Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi's Flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

Legent
According to a legend, Meenakshi emerged out of a ‘Yajna’ (sacred fire) as a three-year-old girl. The ‘Yajna’ was performed by a king named Malayadwaja Pandya along with his wife Kanchanamalai. Since the royal couple had no child, the King offered his prayers to Lord Shiva, requesting him to grant them a son. But to their dismay, a triple-breasted girl emerged from the sacred fire. When Malayadwaja and his wife expressed their concern over the girl’s abnormal appearance, a divine voice ordered them not to fret over the girl’s physical appearance. They were also informed that the girl’s third breast will disappear as soon as she meets her future husband. The relieved King named her Meenakshi and in due course crowned her as his successor.
Meenakshi ruled over the ancient city of Madurai and also went on to capture the neighboring kingdoms. Legend has it that she even captured Indralok, the abode of Lord Indra, and was on her way to capture Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, as well. When Shiva appeared before her, Meenakshi’s third breast disappeared and she knew that she had met her better half. Shiva and Meenakshi returned to Madurai where their wedding took place. It is said that the wedding was attended by all the gods and goddesses. Since Parvati herself had assumed the form of Meenakshi, Lord Vishnu, Parvati’s brother, handed her over to Lord Shiva. Even today, the wedding ceremony is celebrated every year as ‘Chithirai Thiruvizha’ which is also known as ‘Tirukalyanam’ (the grand wedding).
According to legend, the sacred Suyambulingam discovered by the king of Gods indira at Kadambavanam, was later enshrined by him in Madurai. The fact that the Lord is seen on the vehicle of Indira in this temple is said to be proof for this.
Many historical evidences of the temple have been found dating back from early A.D. The
temple was almost completely destroyed in the year 1310 following the invasion of the Islamic conqueror Malikkapur.As kings who were followers of Islam were noted for their intolerance towards other religions, the invaders destroyed most of the ancient sculptures of the temple.
Thirugnanasambandar the Hindu Saint has mentioned the temple in his songs which go back to early 7th century. The Lord has been described as Alavai Iraivan in his songs.The temple was restored to its pristine glory in the late 14th century when the Hindu Kings came back to power in Madurai.This can also be termed as a new beginning of a new era in the history of the temple, when it was almost rebuilt. The King Thirumalai Naicker played an important role in the construction of the new form of the temple according to records.

Temple Formation
The temple occupies a huge area in the heart of Madurai as it spreads over 14 acres. The temple is enclosed with huge walls, which were built in response to the invasions. The entire structure, when viewed from above, represents a mandala. A mandala is a structure built according to the laws of symmetry and loci. There are various shrines built within the temple complex. Apart from the two main shrines, which are dedicated to Sundareswarar and Meenakshi, the temple has shrines dedicated to various other deities like Ganesha and Murugan. The temple also houses goddesses Lakshmi, Rukmini, and Saraswati. 
The temple also has a consecrated pond named ‘Porthamarai Kulam.’ The term ‘Potramarai Kulam’ is a literal translation of ‘pond with a golden lotus.’ The structure of a golden lotus is placed at the center of the pond. It is said that Lord Shiva blessed this pond and declared 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 any new literature.
The temple has four main towering gateways that look identical to each other. Apart from the four ‘gopurams,’ the temple also houses many other ‘gopurams’ that serve as gateways to a number of shrines. The temple has a total of 14 towering gateways. Each one of them is a multi-storey structure and displays thousands of mythological stories and several other sculptures. The major ‘gopurams’ of the temple are listed below.

#Kadaka GopuramàThis towering gateway leads to the main shrine that houses Goddess Meenakshi. The gateway was rebuilt by Tumpichi Nayakkar during the mid-16th century. The ‘gopuram’ has five storeys. 

#Sundareswarar Shrine Gopuramà This is the oldest ‘gopuram’ of the temple and was built by Kulasekara Pandya. The ‘gopuram’ serves as a gateway to the Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) shrine.

#Chitra Gopuramà Built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan II, the gopuram depicts the religious and secular essence of Hinduism. 

 
#Nadukkattu Gopuramà Also called as the ‘Idaikattu Gopuram,’ this gateway leads to the Ganesha shrine. The gateway is placed right in between the two main shrines.

#Mottai Gopuramà This ‘gopuram’ has fewer stucco images when compared to the other gateways. Interestingly, ‘Mottai gopuram’ had no roof for nearly three centuries.

#Nayaka Gopuramà This ‘gopuram’ was built by Visvappa Nayakkar around 1530. The ‘gopuram’ is astonishingly similar to another gateway called ‘Palahai Gopuram.’ 


The temple also has numerous pillared halls called ‘Mandapams.’ These halls were built by various kings and emperors and they serve as resting places for pilgrims and devotees. Some of the most important ‘mandapams’ are given below:

#Ayirakkal Mandapamà It literally translates to ‘hall with thousand pillars.’ The hall, which was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar, is a true spectacle as it is supported by 985 pillars. Each and every pillar is sculpted magnificently and has images of Yali, a mythological creature.

#Kilikoondu Mandapamà This ‘mandapam’ was originally built to house hundreds of parrots. The parrots that were kept there in cages were trained to say ‘Meenakshi’. The hall, which is next to the Meenakshi shrine, has sculptures of characters from Mahabharata.
 
#Ashta Shakthi Mandapamà This hall houses the sculptures of eight goddesses. Built by two queens, the hall is placed in between the main ‘gopuram’ and the gateway that leads to the Meenakshi shrine.

#Nayaka Mandapamà ‘Nayaka Mandapam’ was built by Chinnappa Nayakkar. The hall is supported by 100 pillars and houses a Nataraja statue.
 

Significance & Worship

Since Meenakshi is the main deity of the temple, the temple signifies the importance of woman in a Tamil Hindu family. The temple also portrays the cordial relationship between Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. The Sundareswarar shrine is known as one fifth of ‘Pancha Sabhai’ where Lord Shiva is believed to have performed the cosmic dance. Worship mainly involves rituals and processions. One of the rituals involves placing an image of Sundareswarar inside a palanquin which is then moved to the shrine of Meenakshi. The palanquin is taken into the shrine every night and is brought back to the shrine of Sundareswarar every morning. The devotees usually worship Meenakshi before offering their prayers to Sundareswarar.

Festivity
 
Apart from the main festival, which is basically the wedding ceremony of the deities, a number of other festivals are celebrated in the temple. Some of these include ‘Vasantham festival,’ ‘Unjal festival,’ ‘Mulai-Kottu festival,’ ‘Arudhra Dharsan festival,’ ‘Thai utsavam,’ ‘Kolattam festival,’ etc. Each of these festivals has its own significance and is celebrated during various months throughout the year. The temple also celebrates ‘Navarathri festival.’ During ‘Navarathri’ the temple displays colorful dolls which are collectively called ‘gollu.’ ‘Gollu’ often convey stories from mythological scenes.

Night

As the evening draws in experience the extraordinary ‘Going to Bed Ceremony’ at Sri Meenakshi Temple. Each night the image of Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar) is carried from his shrine to join his consort Parvati at hers, in another part of the temple.  This ceremony is chaotic and noisy but we feel its not to be missed if travelling to Madurai.  Each morning he is returned to his own place of rest. Please note non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the Temple’s main sanctum area but can witness the ceremony from a gallery outside.

Its the Meenakshi Amman Temple so u can travel this place.

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