Meenakshi Temple of Madurai
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
in a cascade of colors is the beautiful Meenakshi Temple - a typical, yet
classic representative of Dravidian temple architecture with its gopurams
(large sclupted gateways) and mandapams (multi-pillared halls). Lord Shiva
and his consort Meenakshi or the Fish-eyed one are the reigning deities
here. The complex, the dual shrines dedicated to the god and the goddess add
to the elegance and the mystery of a divine legend - not widely known in the
other parts of India.
The Legend of Meenakshi
The Pandyan King, who is accredited to have built the princely state
Madhurai (Former Madurai), was childless and after years of prayers and
devotion was blessed with a Ayonija child (one born not from the womb). This
child, an incarnation of Shiva and Parvati, had three breasts and
fish-shaped eyes and smelled like a fish. It was said that the abnormalities
would dissappear when she met her rightful man. The child was named
Meenakshi - Meen meaning 'fish' and akshi meaning 'eyes'. After her father's
death she took the reigns of power and was cured of her ailments the moment
she met Lord Shiva or Sundareshwara (the Beautiful Almighty). In their
marriage the Lord entertained his guests with the mighty Chidambaram or the
cosmic dance. The pair thus became another insignia of of Shiv-Shakti
The majestic shrine of Lord Shiva, measuring 254 by 237 mt. lies at the
centre of the temple complex. Nine gopurams (monumental sclupted gateways),
each 200 ft high, circumvents the temple precincts. The tallest spire is 60
mt and had the designation of the tallest of its kind in entire Asia for a
long time. The temple has a thousand pillared hall with 985 beautifully
scultured pillars which are tourist favorite. The shrine was expanded by
emperors of the Vijaynagara dynasty during the late 16th Century and it took
about 120 years to complete.
The ritual dominance of the goddess developed much later and today tourists
flock this place seeking blessings and partake in the legion of festivals
that take place almost round the year. The power of Shiv-Shakti is something
so predominantly felt in the temple precincts that many believe that a visit
to the temple brings luck to the newly married.
Don't miss these out....
» Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam -
A famous South
Indian temple with Lord Vigneswara as the presiding deity. The temple hosts
the Annual Float Festival in the months of January/ February.
» Thirupparankundram -
About 6 km southwest of
Madurai is one of the six dwellings of Lord Subramanyam and is famous for
its cave and rock cut temple built by the Pandyas in the 8th century.
» Tirumalai Nayak Palace -
building built in 1523 features the architectural works of the Nayaks and
gives an insight into ancient Tamil history.
Madurai airport has flights to all major metros like Chennai, Mumbai etc.
The railway station connects with all the major South Indian cities. And if
you are planning to take drive, Madurai is 472 km from Chennai, 232 km from
Kanyakumari, 446 km from Bangalore and 1454 km from Mumbai.