Saturday, 11 October 2014

Long drive to Delhi - 5 : Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamilnadu

Meenakshi Amman Temple also called Meenakshi Sundereshwarar Thirukkovil, is star attraction of 2500 year old city Madurai & is located in the centre of the town. Or town has developed around the Temple over a period of time. Temple is dedicated to Parvati (Meenakshi).

Present structure is said to have been re-built by King Viswanatha Nayak (1559 - 1600) under supervision of Ariyantha Mudaliar as per Shilp Shastra. Significant contribution was made by king Thirumalai Nayak during 1623 - 1655. Nayak Palace of the king Thirumali Nayak is at a short distance from the temple (you can have a look on photo-blog on the Palace in 'Long drive to Delhi - 6).

The complex is spread in 45 acres. It has 14 Gopurams or gates of which South Tower is the tallest. Eastern Gopuram is the oldest built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan (1216-1238). There are nearly 33000 statues in the Temple. Average number of visitors is over 15000 per day. On Fridays it is nearly double the number. So Darshan takes time. Keep 1 to 4 hours for Darshan.

Temple has a large sacred tank 165 ft by 130 ft, with a real gold lotus in it. There is a legend attached to the pond - if a writer places his new work here & if it is not scholarly it sinks!

The Temple is believed to have been founded by Indra while on pilgrimage. As he approached Madurai he found himself at peace. He attributed this to Swayambhu Lingam which he saw there & created the temple.

There are several halls or Mandapams in the complex - hall of temple tree, hall of eight goddess, new hall, dark hall & hall of beating drums. Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam or hall of a thousand pillars has 985 pillars in two rows which makes the temple world famous.

Alas cameras & mobiles are not allowed & therefore no photos. I feel they should review this so that magnificent statues & architectural concepts reach to public at large.

South Tower is the tallest (170 ft) Gopuram of The Temple. It has more than 1500 mythical statues each of which is unique & tells its own story 
Side view of South Tower in the evening
Inside the Temple
You can whisper your wish in the ear of the Nandi - good luck!

Pillars in the side hall which is a museum 

Subtle graceful smile on the face of Uttara 
Arjun posing as a eunuch during hiding & teaching dance to Uttara. One can spend days in studying these masterpieces
All told there are nearly 1600 carved pillars in the complex

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