Navratri Delight – Fifteen Sterling Destinations. Abounding Divinity.
The beauty of Hinduism lies in its diverse mythological stories and legends – tales that have stood the test of time and continue to flourish. However, stories do not come alive merely in the faith of its believers. They flourish in the splendour of architecture – in the majestic sculptures, colourful murals and detailed paintings that adorn our numerous temples.
In short, when you chance upon a phenomenon such as the sprawling temple complex of Meenakshi Amman in Madurai, you truly begin to appreciate the power of stories. The massive area spanning over six hectares boasts of numerous mandapams, endless corridors, towering sculptures and several metres-tall gopurams, adorned with various mythological images of Dravidian gods and goddesses.
The Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi Amman, incarnation of Parvati and consort of Lord Shiva. Meenakshi means “fish-shaped eyes”, signifying the beautiful fish-shaped eyes of the deity, which is supposed to end all miseries when one gazes into them.
The exact age of this mighty temple has been difficult to predict. In fact, it is believed to have been founded by the king of Devas, Indra himself. Tamil literature gives references to this temple for the last couple of millennia. The initiative to rebuild the original temple was by first Nayak king of Madurai, Viswanatha Nayak.
The Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four different directions. The temple was chosen to be one of the seven wonders of India by NDTV and is now running as the forerunner in the race to be one of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World.
Legend has it that long ago, Malayadwaja, the Pandya king who ruled over this region performed an extensive Yagna, praying for a progeny. In the end, a three-year old girl sprang out of the pyre. However, she had one striking deformity – she had three breasts, one of which would vanish only when she met her consort. As years went by, Meenakshi grew up to become a valiant and beautiful princess, who excelled in warfare. On her conquest to the Himalayas to attack Kailasha, she met Lord Shiva and immediately her third breast vanished. She bowed her head down in shyness. Shiva came back to Madurai and they got married here and ruled this region.
To this day, the people of Madurai continue to celebrate their fish-eyed princess and deity, Meenakshi Amman with fondness. Indeed, for a temple as famous as the Meenakshi Amman temple in the old town of Madurai, there is simply no dearth of tales to listen to.
Distance from Kodai – By The Lake: 116km, 2 hours 36 minutes
Distance from Kodai – Valley View: 122km, 2 hours 45 minutes
Closest city: Tiruchirappalli – 115 kms