Madurai city is one of the oldest ancient cities in India, more than 2500 years old. This historic city ruled by Pandayas and Nayaks is very closely associated with Meenakshi (fish eyed) Amman Temple which is replete with superb artistic and life-like sculptures carved out of rocks. Dedicated to Lord Shiva- Sudareswarar (handsome Lord) the temple complex is in the center of this busy city, bearing testimony to the ancestry of the Tamil culture.
The Meenashi Amman temple is a heaven for Architects. Every place in the temple is artistically decorated. The massive ornate pillars and the life-size stone sculptures are just spellbinding Despite the passing of 2500 plus years, the beauty and the grandeur of this temple have not diminished. Simply a masterpiece of Indian temple architecture
|Meenashi Temple, Madurai,Tower(s),beautifull images of feitie, demoms, etc, www.flickr.com|
| images of deities on the tower. Meenashi temple,|
01. The temple complex, one of the largest in India, covers 45 acres of land and the massive building covers 254 by 237 meters. Sculpted and painted Gopurams (towers), twelve in number, that cover the periphery on all sides; the tallest tower being the 170 ft tall Southern tower.
02. The temple was almost totally damaged except Amman shrine during the Muslim invasion of Malik Kafur in 1310.
03. The famous Nayak King Viswanatha Nayak 1559 -1600 AD took up the complete rebuilding of the temple. Later King Thirumalai Nayak- 1623- 1659 built the Vasantha Mandapa, Kilikoottu Mandapam, Teppakulam and other monuments
Thirugnana Sambandar, the famous Hindu saint mentions this temple as early as the 7th century.
|Mukkuruni Vinayagar, the largest Ganesha statue in the south..vedicodyssey.com|
04. The massive stone idol of Lord Ganesa is monolithic made from single stone called ''Mukuruny'' Vinayakar. Purportedly found below the ground while Thirumalai Nayak was excavating the temple tank about 3 km from the temple. The shrine is in the outer Pragara (Corridor).
05. The massive Nataraja idol (cosmic dancer) covered with silver leaves in the Kilikoontu Mandapam is placed in a silver-plated alter. Hence he is called Velli Ambalam'(in Tamil Velli means silver).
06. It is said that the figure of Goddess Meenakshi Amman at this temple is engraved out of a single Emerald (Maragatham in Tamil) gem stone.
|Meenaskshi temple,Madurai. 1000 Pillars hall-www.tumblr.com|
08. This temple is famous for its 'Aayiram Kaal Mandapam' meaning a hall with thousand pillars. Actually it has 985 exquisitely carved pillars. It was built in 1569 (ASI);Yet another attraction is the musical pillars.
09. Meenashi Kalyanam(wedding) is conducted in the near by hall (chitrai festival) called Kalyana Mandapam.
Above image: Ashta Sakthi Mandapam (hall), built by the wives of Thrumalai Nayak. in Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu, South India.......
10. The Golden Lotus Tank (water tank or Kulam) known as 'Potramaraikulam' has connections with 'The Tamil Sangam', meaning ancient academy of eminent poets wo used to meet here. The tank is surrounded by by pillared corridor with beautiful paintings of Puranic events.
11. The swing Mandapam or Oonjal Mandapam in Tamil and Killikoontu, parrot cage, are situated
on the western side of the tank. As part of temple ritual, the golden idols of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are reverentially seated on the swing - Oonjal every Friday for pooja and prayer.
12.The Vasantha Mandapam, also known as the Pudhu Mandapam, built by Thirumalai Nayak holds the spring festivals - April/May. Scenes from Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi wedding are depicted here. So are the figures of the Nayak kings and their consorts in these pillars.
13.Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is being visited by more than 7000 to 8000 people each day. On festival days such as Chitrai, Karthigai deepam, etc, there will be more visitors.
|Meenashi temple. Nataraja idol with a raised right leg. jaybeetrident.blogspot.com|
14. The Nataraja shrine at Madurai is known as Rajata Sabha, where Shiva is depicted dancing with a raised right foot standing on his left foot. unlike raised left foot in all temples. This is called ''Kaal maari aadiya patalam,''