Religious Places

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple

Written by Sudhir Kumar

The Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is being one of the greatest temples of Meenakshi in India. It is well known for the sprawling landscape filled with sculptured halls, pillars and lofty towers which have lavish artwork in all forms. Madurai is even the site of the 64 Tiruvilayadalgal of Shiva and one of the 5 Pancha Sabhais of Nataraja. The Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient. According to legend Madurai is the actual site where the wedding between Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The gigantic temple complex, the statues exploring the entire range of human emotions, everything here is larger than life. The soaring and exquisitely carved towers enclose the temple dedicated to Meenakashi. The south gateway contains the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi and is about nine storeys high Holidays in Tamil Nadu. According to the legend of the temple, the Pandyan king, Malayathuwajan, performed a Yagna seeking the blessing of God for a child. A three year old child with three breasts appeared from the sacrificial fire causing a great anxiety at the ceremony.Then a mysterious voice informed that the third breast would disappear when she met her future husband. Even the instructions that the child be known as ‘Thadathagai’ and be brought up as if she was a son, were given. Subsequently, the child was brought up giving training in all aspects of royal duties befitting a prince including the art of war.

History of  Meenakshi Temple

Sri Meenakshi Temple Society was established in October 1977. The property was purchased on June 20, 1978. Sri Ganesh temple was constructed and inaugurated on Ganesh Chathurthi day in August 1979. Houston families took turns and performed daily poojas. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam (inauguration) was performed in June 1982. The deities at the main temple include Meenakshi, Sundareswara, and Venkateshwara, were installed according the agamas and yantras. Nandi, Siva’s vehicle, is directly opposite to Siva. Garuda, Vishnu’s vehicle, is directly opposite to Venkateswara. Lakshmi, the companion of Vishnu, is the Goddess of wealth. She is represented as Padmavati. After 12 years, in June 1994, Ashtabhandhana was performed for the main deities. The east Rajagopuram, three gopurams and four prakara temples with sannadhis for Maha Ganapathi, Ayyappa, Subramanya Parivar, Ramar Parivar, Anjaneeya, Radha-Krishna, Durga, Jyothi, Kannikaparameshwari, Navagraha, Bairavar, Natarajar, and Sivakami were constructed in July 1995. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam for the Rajagopuram and for prakara temples were performed on July 16, 1995. The Kalyana Mandapam was inaugurated in July 1998. A few years later in October 2003, MTS inaugurated the Youth Center, which boasts a kitchen and library. Currently, MTS is completing the Visitors Center, which was inaugurated in December 2009, and will include library /gift shop, temple archives, meditation room, and the Ratham house. The newly built silver Ratham will be used for procession during important Hindu festivals.

Inside Meenakshi temple

Ashta Sakthi Mandapa 

This Mandapa is a convention in this temple, different from that followed in others, that the devotee offers worship first to Goddess Meenakshi. Therefore, while there are four other entrances into the temple, under huge Gopuras in the four cardinal directions, it is customary to enter not through any of them but through a Mandapa, with no tower above it. This entrance leads directly to the shrine of the Goddess.

Potramaraukulam (Golden Lotus Tank) 

This temple tank is an ancient tank where devotees take bath in the holy water. The corridors around the tank are rightly called the Chitra Mandapa, for the walls carry paintings of the divine sports of the Lord. The area around this tank was the meeting place of the Tamil Sangam – the ancient academy of poets.This academy judged the worth of any work of literature presented before it by throwing it into the tank. Only those that did not sink were considered worthy of attention. The tank is surrounded by a pillared corridor. Steps lead down to the tank, enabling worshippers to take bathe in it.

The Thousand Pillar Mandapam 

It is the ‘wonder of the place’, Actually the number of pillars count to 985. Each pillar is sculptured and is a monument of the Dravidan sculpture. There is a Temple Art Museum in this 1000 pillars hall where you can see icons, photographs, drawings, etc., exhibiting the 1200 years old history. There are so many other smaller and bigger mandapams in the temple. Just outside this mandapam, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar when stuck, Produces a different musical notes.

Oonjal Mandapam

Two Mandapas, the Unjal (swing) and the Kilikatti (parrot cage), are on the western side of the tank. On their ceilings are more paintings. The Kiliatti Mandapa has on its walls the carvings of the divine sports. The most ornamental of the temple’s Mandapas, it was built in 1623.

How to Reach the Temple

  1. Through Airways -the city of Madurai is connected by air with Mumbai and Chennai. Madurai airport is 10-km away from the city.
  2. Through Railways- the city of Madurai has direct rail connections to Bangalore, Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, Tirupathi and Tuticorin.
  3. Through Roadways – 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, and Mattuthavani Bus Stand. From Madurai town buses, suburban buses, taxis, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are available to reach the temple. Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is a Beautiful Place For Vacations.

About the author

Sudhir Kumar

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