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.    

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