The Meenakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. This temple is situated on the southern banks of the Vaigai River in the Madurai city of Tamil Nadu. The temple was constructed between the years 1623 and 1655. This Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple is quite distinct from the rest of the temples of the country as both Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshiped together in this temple. Legend has it that Lord Shiva, born as Sundareswaran, visited Madurai to marry Parvati (Meenakshi).
This place has been sacred since the beginning as it is the birthplace of Goddess Parvati, so this Meenakshi temple was built to commemorate and worship goddess Parvati. The Madurai Meenakshi Temple is very beautiful, consisting of 14 entrances or 'Gopurams', golden towers, sacred sanctum. Thousands of devotees visit this temple daily because of the sanctity and charm of this temple.
History of Meenakshi Temple
The history of the Meenakshi temple dates back to as early as the 7th century. The first changes to the structure of the Meenakshi temple are said to have been made by King Vishwanath Nayaka of Madurai in 1560, during the reign of Thirumalai Nayaka (1623–55), many complexes were built in the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, including Vasantha Mandapam and Kilikokondu Mandapam are included. The tanks and the corridors of the Meenachi Naikar Mandapam were constructed by Rani Mangalam.
Several controversies arose after the succession of the Pandya throne around the 14th century. Alauddin of Delhi invaded Madurai in 1310 and exploited anarchy. Behind the massive plunder of the city was his general, “Malik Kafur” who disturbed the lives of the general public. Out of the fourteen minarets of the Meenakshi Temple, all except Sundareswaran and Meenakshi were destroyed.
Architecture of Meenakshi Temple
Meenakshi Amman Temple depicts Dravidian architecture. The temple is most famous for its towers or 'Gopurams', visible from far away. About 12 Gopurams adorned the Meenakshi Temple, with four exteriors at a height of more than 160 feet. The complexes of the temple are made of high brickwork walls and are divided into several square enclaves. Meenakshi Temple is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu that has four entrances from four directions. There are about a thousand pillars in this temple. The images of various gods and goddesses are engraved in all from the state gate to the pillars of this temple.
The structure of the temple was built between 1623 and 1655. It has 14 gateway towers, which are 450 meters in height. The highest tower among them is the Southern Tower, which is 170 feet in height. There is also a large tank or Potramarikkulam in the temple complex, which is filled with holy water. The main temple here which is dedicated to Meenakshi and Sundareswaran is surrounded by three complexes and four are protected by small towers. Meenakshi's shrine is located to the southwest of the shrine of Sundareswaran, where the Goddess herself is in the form of black stone. The temple of Sundareswaran is in the center and both temples have gold towers, which are also visible from a distance. An idol of Lord Ganesh carved with a single stone is present here in the Vinayaka temple. The sanctum of the Madurai Meenakshi temple is adorned with many forms of Indra Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Within the Sundareswaran temple complex is a temple of Nataraja in which the Nataraja idol of Lord Shiva displays the Tandava (cosmic dance of destruction).
In this temple, Goddess Meenakshi had appeared with a parrot in her right hand. It is believed that the shrine is one of the five places where Shiva performed the Tandava. There is a huge statue of Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja made of silver, which shows Nataraja dancing with his right leg raised and is completely different from the rest of the images of Nataraja as he has the left leg in the rest.
How to reach Meenakshi Temple
There are bus services to Madurai from most major cities in South India. National Highway 44 leads to the city. Madurai is well connected to all parts of South India. The city has 5 major bus stands from where you can catch a bus to almost every city in Tamil Nadu.
The city of Madurai is an important junction of the Madurai-Tiruchirapalli-Dindigul-Quilon line Southern Railway. Trains to Madurai are easily available throughout the year. However, make a booking before traveling for the summer and holiday seasons.
Best time to visit Meenakshi Temple
Here in April every year, "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam" or the festival of Meenakshi's divine marriage is celebrated with great pomp and show. The celebration here is a classic example of a female domination ceremony, also known as the Madurai Vivah. This festival lasts for a month which includes many events like Rath Mahotsavam and Float Utsav. The festivities of Navratri and Shivaratri are also celebrated here. The best time to visit the Meenakshi Temple is during the winter season but one can also visit throughout the year.
Places to visit near Meenakshi Temple
The places to visit near the Meenakshi Temple are Gandhi Museum, Thirumalai Alagar Koil, Vaigaia Dam, etc.
Meenakshi Temple Timings and Entry Fees:
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai Timings:
9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai Entry Fees: