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Sri Meenakshi

Temple History

The Meenakshi temple is believed to have been founded by Indra (king of Deva celestial deities) while he was on a pilgrimage to atone for his misdeeds. He felt his burden lifting as he neared the swayambu lingam (self formed lingam, a representation of Shiva used for worship in temples) of Madurai. He ascribed this miracle to the lingam and constructed the temple to enshrine it. Indra worshipped Shiva, who caused golden lotuses to appear in the nearby pool.

Tamil literature speaks of the temple over the last two millennia. Thirugnanasambandar, the famous Hindu saint of Saiva philosophy, mentioned this temple as early as the 7th century, and described the deity as Aalavai Iraivan. The temple is believed to have been sacked by the infamous Muslim invader Malik Kafur in 1310 and all the ancient elements were destroyed.

The initiative to rebuild the structure was taken by first Nayak king of Madurai, Viswanatha Nayak (1559–1600) under the supervision of Ariyanatha Mudaliar, the prime minister of the Nayak Dynasty and the founder of the Poligar System. The original design by Vishwanatha Nayak in 1560 was substantially expanded to the current structure during the reign of Thirumalai Nayak (1623–55). He took considerable interest in erecting many complexes inside the temple. His major contributions are the Vasantha Mandapam for celebrating vasanthorsavam (spring festival) and Kilikoondu Mandapam (corridor of parrots). The corridors of the temple tank and Meenatchi Nayakar Mandapam were built by Rani Mangammal.

Rous Peter (1786–1828), the Collector of Madurai in 1812, got nickname 'Peter Pandian’ as he respected and treated people of all faiths equally. He donated a set of golden stirrups studded with diamonds and red stones to the temple.Goddess Meenatchi is believed to have saved Rous Peter from a fatal incident. He also wished that after his death, his body be buried in a position that would enable his eyes to face the temple

According to legend, the sacred Suyambulingam discovered by the king of Gods indira at Kadambavanam, was later enshrined by him in Madurai. The fact that the Lord is seen on the vehicle of Indira in this temple is said to be proof for this.

Many historical evidences of the temple have been found dating back from early A.D. The temple was almost completely destroyed in the year 1310 following the invasion of the Islamic conqueror Malikkapur.As kings who were followers of Islam were noted for their intolerance towards other religions, the invaders destroyed most of the ancient sculptures of the temple.

Thirugnanasambandar the Hindu Saint has mentioned the temple in his songs which go back to early 7th century. The Lord has been described as Alavai Iraivan in his songs.The temple was restored to its pristine glory in the late 14th century when the Hindu Kings came back to power in Madurai.This can also be termed as a new beginning of a new era in the history of the temple, when it was almost rebuilt. The King Thirumalai Naicker played an important role in the construction of the new form of the temple according to records.

ARULMIGU MEENAKSHI SUNDARESHWARAR THIRUKKOIL - SHRINES AND DEITIES

The central shrine of Meenakshi Amman temple and her consort Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and each of these are protected by four minor towers at the four points of the compass, the outer tower growing larger and reaching higher to the corresponding inner one. The Meenakshi shrine has the emerald-hued black stone image of Meenakshi.

The Sundareswarar shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam (tower over sanctum).

The golden top can be seen from a great distance in the west through the apertures of two successive towers. The area covered by the shrine of Sundareswarar is exactly one fourth of the area of the temple and that of Meenakshi is one fourth that of Sundareswarar.

The tall sculpture of Ganesh carved of single stone located outside the Sundareswarar shrine in the path from Meenashi shrine is called the Mukuruny Vinayakar.

A large measure of rice measuring 3 kurini (a measure) is shaped into a big ball of sacrifice and hence the Ganesh is called Mukkurni Vinayagar (three kurinis).

This deity is believed to be found during a 17th-century excavation process to dig the Mariamman temple tank. The presiding Lord of this sacred shrine was in the times of yore known as Chockanathar, and Chockalinga Perumal. Now the deity is known as Sundareswarar, Meenakshi Sundarar, Somasundarar, Kalyana Sundarar, Shanbaga Sundarar, Attavai Shevagan, Chockalingam, Adiyarku Nallan, Adhiraveesi, Vilayaduvan, Abhideka Chockar, Azhagiya Chockar, Kadambavana Chockar, Puzhugu Neidhu Chockar, Kadambavaneswarar, Karpoora Chockar, Madureswarar, Irayanar, Peralavayar and other names.

 

Additional Information

Festivals are celebrated in this temple thoughout the year. Some of the most popular festivals of the temple are Chitra festival, Avanimoola festival, Masi Mandala festival, Float festival, and Navarathri cultural festival. The most important festival associated with the temple is the "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam" (the divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year.

Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Arapalayam Bus Stand, Mattuthavani Bus Stand are the other bus stations of Madurai City.

Madurai City have good Hotels and Lodges for the accommodation of the pilgrims.

Periyar Bus stand is the only 1 Km from the temple. Madurai City is well connected by the bus and train routes.

Madurai Railway Junction is just 1.7 Km in distance.There are direct trains from Madurai connecting important cities in India like Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Banglore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Kollam, Kanyakumari, Trichy, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram, Thanjavur, Vijaywada, Calcutta, Nagpur and Bhopal.

Madurai International Airport is the nearest airport which is 11.5 Km from the temple.
  • Darshanm: 5.00AM to 12.30PM and Evening: 04.00 PM to 10.00 PM
  • Contact Person: Temple Office
  • Contact Number: +91 0452 234 4360, 234 9868
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