Meenakshi Amman Temple - Madurai,Tamilnadu
Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, the most revered heritage site and spiritual retreat in Tamil Nadu, moreover it is the face of Tamil Nadu Tourism. The temple has a magnificent charm of its own which captivates every visitor who visits to experience the splendour of this huge pilgrim center. The presiding deity of the temple is Goddess Meenakshi [Parvathy] and her consort Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Sundareswarar. As per the statistical data collected, likely 15,000 devotees visit this holy temple every day, and during the "Thirukalyanam" festival which is the most auspicious occasion of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, it attracts more than a million visitors. It was a nominee for the "New Seven Wonders of The World".
As far as the story of existence of the Meenakshi Temple goes, it is believed to be Indra who is the king of Devas as per Hinduism laid the foundations of this temple. Once Indra was passing through Madurai while he was on a pilgrimage to reverse his Vikarma [misdeeds], he sensed the presence of the Swayambhu Lingam [self-manifested lingam] nearby and enshrined it by himself.
The exact date of the construction of Meenakshi Temple is not available but it is evident that it has been mentioned in ancient Indian puranic texts, which proves it to be probably a couple of thousand years old. It was completely devastated by the Islamic Ruler of the North, Malik Kafur during the year 1310. It was only during the late 14th century when the Hindu kings came back to power, and restored the temple to its old glory. However the current structure of the temple was built during the period 1623- 1655 CE. The temple structure comprises of 14 Gopurams [temple towers] of each ranging height between 45m- 50m, which include 2 golden Shikaras above the main sanctum. Madurai Meenakshi Temple is world renowned for these spectacular towers in and around the temple, which can be seen from a long distance.
The wonders of the temple are led by the 1000 pillared Mandapam [hall]. Each pillar is exquisitely sculpted which adds more splendour to the temple. Towards the west of this mandapam are the famous Musical Pillars, which produce sounds of varying musical scale when struck. The large water tank within the temple complex, the Potramarai Kulam is another striking feature of the temple. It is surrounded by a few spectacular Murals on the corridor walls which picturises the Shaivite stories of Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam.
Major Festivals in Meenakshi Amman Temple
The Thirukalyanam [divine wedding] during the Chithirai Brahmotsavam is the most celebrated festival at the Meenakshi Temple Madurai. A throng of people, likely millions gather during this occasion to watch the holy marriage of their beloved Meenakshi Devi and Lord Sundareswarar. Navarathri festival during September – October is also a great spiritual gathering of the temple which is second in importance next to the Thirukalyanam. Avani Moolam Festival during August- September, the Masi Mandala Utsavam during February – March are the other major festivals of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple.
How to Reach Meenakshi Amman Temple?
By Air : The Madurai Airport is 11 kms away from the temple. There are a lot of direct and connected flights connecting Madurai to all major cities in India. After getting down at the airport grab a taxi or for those who prefer public transport may board in a Tamil Nadu Government transport bus to reach the Madurai Meenakshi Temple.
By Rail : Madurai Railway Station is connected by rail to all the major cities in India and the rail transport is the cheapest and easiest way to reach Madurai.
By Road : Mattuthavani Bus Stand is the major bus stand at Madurai where the interstate buses are available. There are frequent buses from all the cities in South India which connects Madurai.
Meenakshi Amman Temple Timings :
The temple is open for devotees from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm