: Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Popular For : An important Pilgrimage Centre and for outstanding architecture.
Deity Worshipped : Lord Somasundara (Lord Shiva) And Goddess Meenakshi
Built By : The Pandyan King, Kulasekhara
Festivals Celebrated : Meenakshi Kalyanam In April-May And The Teppam Festival
The Meenakshi Temple complex is a city temple in Madurai. It is one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient in Madurai and most revered in India. The soaring and exquisitely carved towers enclose the temple dedicated to Meenakashi temple in Madurai. The south gateway contains the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi and is about nine storeys high in Madurai.
It looks like a fortified citadel from outside. The Temple premise includes a complex of columned Mandapas, tanks, stores, shrines and, at the core, the two temples of Shiva as Sundareshvara and Devi as Meenakshi. The stonewalls and towers of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai rise out of the crowded streets of the city center. From her rambling maze-like palaces the Goddess Meenakshi presides. It is said that her image is carved out of a single emerald.
The sanctuary of Shiva has an assembly hall, a vestibule and a cella which is surmounted by a small shikara which penetrates through the flat roof covering of the whole portion of the temple . The sanctuary of Meenakshi is half the size of Shiva's sanctuary. The Gopuras at Madurai are among the most richly adorned in southern India. The temple is beautified with eleven gopuras. Four among them are 45 mtrs in height. Each gopuram is a pyramidal structure with a straight or slightly curved slope. The gopurams with life size sculpture of images from Hindu mythology are the captivating sights of this temple.
Various kings have renovated the temple, adding intertwined corridors, larger-than-life sculptures, polishing and honing an abode suitable for Meenakshi, the Goddess Shakti herself, born as daughter of a Pandya king. According to the legend of this temple the marriage of the goddess to Shiva actually took place in Madurai and is still celebrated every summer with great pomp and gaiety.
The south gateway is the ideal way for entering the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi. On looking up you would see the four mythical beasts called Yalis looking downwards. The eyes would glide from the yellows to the flashes of pure greens, blues, and whites on the 150 ft South Gopuram. It is beautifully proportioned, nine stories high and crowded with griming gargoyles and gryphons that perch on the ornate curved edges. Between them stand or gently sit sedate gods and goddesses.
Reaching Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
Air : Madurai is connected by air with Mumbai and Chennai. Madurai airport is 10-km away from the city.
Rail : Madurai has direct rail connections to Bangalore, Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, Tirupathi and Tuticorin.
Road : There are excellent roads connecting Madurai to all parts of South India. Madurai city has 5 Major Bus Stands- Periyar Bus Stand, Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Arapalayam Bus Stand, Mattuthavani Bus Stand. From Madurai town buses, suburban buses, taxis, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are available to reach the temple.