Meenakshi Amman Temple - Tamilnadu
The geographic center of the Madurai City in the down south of Tamil Nadu is the temple complex which makes you spell bound with its 14 tower gates called Gopurams and with its architectural elegance of appearing in a series of quadrangular precincts arranged in a perfect manner. Meenakshi Amman temple in the sleepless city called Madurai has been witnessing a minimum of 15,000 visitors per day generating a revenue of $60 million per year.
Meenakshi Amman temple is one of the very few temples in India where the first reverence is given to the Goddess Meenakshi. She is blessing her devotees with her beautiful eyes likened to that of a fish and the very reason she is called as Meenakshi (In tamil, Meen refers to Fish). The presiding deities are Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar. The temple is believed to exist from the 14th century which was constructed during the Pandyas Dynasty. Once there was a King called Malaiyatvaja Pandian ruling Madurai. He had everything in his life except for a child. So, he was trying to please the Almighty with all possible rituals. During one such function, a girl child appeared out of the fire. She was very beautiful but with three breasts. Both the parents were shocked to see her and at that time there was a voice from the heaven telling them not to worry and the third breast will disappear when she meets her future husband for the first time.
The girl was christened as Thadathagai and grew learning all the 64 forms of arts. When she went to the places of Brahma, Vishnu and Indra, the celestial deities, she was able to defeat them very easily. But when she entered the abode of Lord Shiva, she could not fight with him and her third breast disappeared. Both of them realized that they had to marry each other and returned to Madurai. The marriage celebrations of Meenakshi-Sundareswarar is said to be the grandest event on Earth happened so far. Even today the marriage celebrations are conducted in a pomp manner during April-May in the name of Chithirai Thiruvizha and on that auspicious day of the celestial marriage, one million people assemble at Madurai to attend the wedding celebrations.
The temple has been redesigned by the Nayak Kings in such a way that the entire Madurai City is around the sanctum of both the presiding deities. They are perfect in structure and looks like the central part of a flower, the petals are symmetrically extending on all the four sides. Even today, the streets are retained with the names of Tamil months as Avani-Moola Veedhi, Chithirai veedhi, Aadi Veedhi, Mela Masi veedhi and Vadakku Masi veedhi. The temple is said to have 33,000 sculptures housed in different halls constructed by various Kings of the Pandya and Nayak Dynasties. The temple has enjoyed various offerings and endowments from the Kings who have in turn enjoyed the Goddess’s mercy.
The places of interest to visit in this temple are the different halls named as Kilikoondu Mandapam, Kambathadi Mandapam, Puthu Mandapam, Mudali pillai mandapam and Mangaiyarkarasi mandapam. The religious significance of this temple is that, Goddess Meenakshi holds a parrot in her hand. Normally parrots are associated with Andal, an Azhwar saint. Another religious significance is that this is the only temple where Lord Nataraja is performing the cosmic dance with his right leg which can never be seen in any other temples of Lord Shiva
The temple tank is called as the Tank of Golden Lotus, in Tamil, it is called as “Potramarai Kulam”. The tank is believed to be the approving authority of any newly written literature. If the work is authentic, it will float on the tank, otherwise, it will sink. Thirukkural has been staged in this tank by Thiruvalluvar 2000 years ago.
Come and enjoy the grace and benevolence of Lord Sundareswarar and His consort Goddess Meenakshi Amman blessing the devotees in this 2500 old city Madurai !
How To Reach:
By Flight- It is well connected with all major cities in the country through regular flights. The airport is just 10 km from the main city.
By Train- Madurai is well connected to all parts of South India. Buses are operated from all major cities of South India. NH 44 leads to the city. Madurai has 5 major bus stations, from where you can get buses to almost every city in Tamil Nadu.
By Road- The railway falls on the Madurai-Tiruchirappalli-Dindigul-Quilon line which is an important junction of the southern railways. There are many trains to Madurai throughout the year.