Saturday, October 24, 2015

Madurai Meenakshi Temple

Madurai Meenakshi Temple (Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple,Madurai Meenakshi Amman Kovil,Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple) is situated in the heart of Madurai City of Tamil Nadu State.This more than 2500 years old temple is mentioned in many old texts and the self manifested 'Swayamboo' idols of the deities were consecrated by King of the Devas 'Lord Indra' is the belief.This temple is the most impressive attraction in the temple city of Madurai.It is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi (Devi Parvathi) and Lord Sundareshwarar (Lord Shiva).
The magnificent temple complex built in Dravidian Style is very beautiful and having gigantic 14 'Gopurams' (entrance gate structures) out of which four are 'Raja Gopurams' which have enormous  sizes and height.The Southern Gopuram is the tallest which is  160.9 feet tall.Many of the Gopurams and other  existing structures are constructed after a severe destruction by invaders in the year AD 1310.Large part of the renovation works and additional works were carried out by the King 'Thirumalai Naicker'.Some of the Gopurams were constructed by other eminet devotees.The King accepted the contribution from common people also for the construction of the temple and thereby created a feeling among them  that it is 'their own' temple.
The legend is that Parvathi Devi took the incarnation as the daughter of a childless King 'Malayadraja' by which  a three year old female child came out of the sacred fire when he conducted 'Puthrakameshti Yagna'.The child grew as a beautiful princess having 'fish shaped eyes' and other lovely features and was called as 'Meenakshi'.She attained the throne after her father's demise  as the 'Queen' of Madurai and after awhile  met 'Sundareshwarar' the human form of Lord Shiva at Kailash and  they got married.They ruled Madurai for a very long time.
They became the presiding deities of this temple when Lord Indra found the 'Swayamboo' idols at 'Kadambavanam' and installed it at the temple location.
Even though Goddess Meenakshi is having  much importance in this temple Lord Shiva is  much more important.The Shrine of Shiva temple occupies one fourth of the area of the temple and the Shrine of Goddess Meenakshi is one fourth of the area of Lord Shiva's shrine.
There are four 'Nine tier Gopurams' which are 'Raja Gopurams' in this temple  complex.
There is 'one' Seven tier Gopuram.
There are 'five'  'Fiver Tier Gopurams'
and there are two 'Golden Gopurams' for the Shrine of God Sundareshwarar and Goddess Meenakshi.
The tallest Gopuram which is on the south side was constructed in the year 1559.
East Gopuram was constructed by a Pandian King during 1216-1238 which is having a height of 153 feet.
The temple pond is called as 'Aadi Theertham' in which bloomed the 'Golden Lotus' for Lord Indra to perform Poojas.
The pond is also called as 'Parama Theertham,Gnana theertham,Mukthi theertham' etc..The devotees are supposed to take a  bath in the pond and worship the deities.It is believed that if the devotees take bath in the pond on New moon day,first day of the month,eclipse day,and other auspicious days and worship the Lord their aspirations for success will be fulfilled.The pinnacle of the 'Golden Gopurams' of 'Swamy and Amman'  can be viewed from the pond and 64 miracles of Lord Shiva can be viewed on the walls surrounding the pond.

There are various 'Mandapams' in this temple such as 'Meenakshi Naicker Mandapam,Muthupillai Mandapan.Thousand Pillar Mandapam,The celestial wedding hall,Veeravasantharayar Mandapam,The New Mandapam,Nagara Mandapam' etc.
The Gopurams,Mandapams, pillars etc are all decorated with beautiful and stunning sculptures.There are several paintings also which are all centuries old but retains its brightness and attractive beauty.The sculptures are colored  and paintings are all made with natural dyes. 
Worshiping Goddess Meenakshi Devi at first and then proceeding   to worship Lord Sundareshwarar is the traditional practice followed in this temple.There are several other deities at Madurai Meenakshi temple including Lord Ganesha.
There are ancient 44 stone inscriptions in the temple which gives light to several facts about the temple history.    

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tourist Attractions of Madurai District

Madurai District is the second largest populated district in Tamil Nadu State.The Headquarters is Madurai City which is famous as a 'Temple town' where the very famous Madurai Meenakshi Temple is situated.The city is surrounded by three small and enchanting hills 'Nagamalai,Annamalai,and Pasumalai'.
Madurai is also known as 'Athens of the East', 'City of Festivals', 'Sleepless City',City of four Junctions' etc.

Madurai is well known for the 'Jasmine Flower' which grows abundantly

here.This variety of flower is generally known as 'Malligai' locally.
Places of interest in Madurai are:-
Gandhi Museum
The Gandhiji Memorial Monument is visited by tourists which showcases  several articles that  were used by Mahatma Gandhi.The public can witness many  personal belongings of the great leader here.
Thirumalai Nayakar Palace
This beautiful Palace which was built by Maharajah Thirumala Nayakar in the year 1636 is under the care of Archaeological Department.
Kutladampatti Waterfalls

It is about 30 km northwest of Madurai City amidst reserve forest in the magnificent Western Ghats.It has a height of 27 meters and the best time to visit this waterfall is from September to February.
This rock-cut Lord Muruga temple is situated 7 km from Madurai City and it is one  among the six famous Subramanya Swamy Shrines known as 'Arupadai Veedu'.
Pazhamudir Cholai
It is located in the small hill called as 'Azhagar Koil' which is 4.5 km away from Alaganallur.It is the 6th Shrine of the famous 'Arupadai Veedu' of Lord Murugan.(Lord Subramanya Swamy).
Alaganallur is a Panchayat town in Madurai District where during the middle of January (Usually on 14th January)  every year a festival known as 'Jallikettu' is conducted which is  'Bull Fight'.Many people gather at this place on that occasion to watch this event.
Koodal Azhagar Perumal Temple
It is located in the center of the City of Madurai and it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.It is one among the 108 'Divyadesams', the holy abodes of Lord Vishnu.
Kazimar Big Mosque
Kazimar Big Mosque or 'Kasimar Periya Pallivasal' is  located in the heart of Madurai City.It was established in the 13th century.This first Mosque of Madurai can accommodate 2500 worshipers.
St.Mary's Cathedral Church

St.Mary's Cathedral Church in Madurai was established in the year 1841 CE.
This Shrine is very famous and  is situated in the heart of Madurai City.