Madurai Meenakshi temple
Madurai Meenakshi temple is a symbol of Hindu architecture and religion. The temple is spread over 6 hectares. This makes it one of the largest temples in India.
One of the reasons why this particular temple is so famous is owing to the fact that it consists of 1000 pillars. This is an architectural wonder in itself. It is one of the main reasons why people often frequent the temple.
Where is the Meenakshi Temple?
The Meenakshi Temple is located at Madurai in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The temple lies in the heart of the city and attracts a huge number of tourists and pilgrims from all across the globe.
How will you gain access?
Madurai has its own airport which is located at a distance of 12 km from the city center. The airport operates regular flights connecting the city to places like Chennai and Mumbai. By rail, the city is linked with Coimbatore, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, and other towns and cities of South India. There is a good road network as well that connects Madurai to all the major towns of Tamil Nadu and other surrounding areas.
Timings of the Madurai Meenakshi temple:
The temple opens from morning 5 AM to 12:30 PM in noon and thereafter, it opens from 4 PM in the evening to 10 PM in the night. Thus, you are able to visit Madurai Meenakshi temple almost for the entire day just leaving out the afternoon in between. Owing to this very reason you can easily cooperate along with the other temples as well as places of religious importance which you can visit and explore within the city.
Generally speaking, when you are coming to the temple, you have to spare at least 2 hours in order to explore the temple fully.
One of the main things which you would be able to notice in the temple is the sculptures as well as the carvings. These are pretty ancient but at the same point in time, they represent a rich cultural heritage.
When you’re visiting this Temple, some of the things which you should definitely check out our:
- Morning/Evening Aarti
- Hall of 1000 Pillars
- The temple festival which is held in April and May
The temple also has plenty of halls and gateways which have been intricately carved with the sculptures of Gods as well as Goddesses. There are also quite a few sculptures of mystical figures as well. The temple in itself is an example of the architectural prowess of the people of those times. This temple is also one of the jyotirlinga temples which is spread all over India.
So, if you really want to explore the spiritual as well as the mythological side of the town, this is one of the best temples which you can visit in order to explore the rich cultural heritage. If you are visiting the city, this is an architecture which you should definitely not miss. Over the years, the temple has been carefully preserved by the government as well as the authorities in order to maintain the grandeur of the temple. This has led to the temple becoming one of the most primary tourist attractions in entire southern India.
What does it signify?
The Meenakshi Temple is one of the largest and most ancient temples in the country. It is believed that Madurai is the actual site where the wedding between Shiva and Meenakshi took place. According to Hindu mythology, Indra once killed a demon who was then observing penance. He could find no way of freeing himself of the sin and so came down to earth. As he was passing through a forest of Kadamba trees in Pandya land, he felt relieved. His attendants told him that it was all due to a Shiva Linga that lay beneath a Kadamba tree. Absolutely certain that it was a Shiva Linga that had helped him, he worshipped it and built a small temple around it. It is said that it is the very Linga that is still worshipped in the Madurai Temple.
What beckons devotees?
Ashta Shakti Mandapa
It is customary for the devotees and worshippers to offer prayers first to the goddess Meenakshi. Though there are four entrances to the temple, the devotees enter through a Mandapa that leads directly to the goddess’ shrine. The Mandapa is a splendid structure, measuring 14 m in length and 5.5 in width. Bas-relief can be observed all around.
Samagam Meenakshi Naicker Mandapam
The Mandapa provides connections with the larger Mandapas and another larger hall. It was erected in the year 1707. In those days the temple’s elephants, camels, and bulls used to be sheltered here. The Mandapa, a huge hall, is 42.9 m in length and 33.5 m in width. There are 110 stone columns here each measuring 6.7 m in height. Delicate relief work and carving can be seen here.
Mudali Pillai Mandapam
The Mudali Pillai Mandapam was erected in 1613. The walls of the Mandapa bear numerous Puranic scenes. It measures 183 m in length and 7.6 m in width. The Mandapa was devoid of any natural light but it was only during the last renovation that windows were added to it.
The Golden Lily Tank
The Golden Lily Tank is a major attraction around. Popular photographic views of the temple are taken standing on the banks of the very tank. From here one can have a splendid view of the gigantic south outer Gopura, with the northern corridor leading directly to the shrine of the goddess. The corridors around the tank are termed as the ‘ChitraMandapa’ for the reason that the walls bear paintings of the divine sports of the lord.
Historic Shrines in the Prakaras
One can find a number of historic shrines in the Prakaras. Lord Sabhapati is a famous shrine out of the lot. It is the popular Velliambalamwhere Lord’s divine sports took place at the request of the sages. There is a shrine of the Sangam poets in the second Prakara. There is a row of fourteen small shrines in the very Prakara.