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Madurai Meenakshi Temple
Dedicated to the Goddess Meenakshi – a form of Parvati – the Madurai Meenakshi Temple is the outstanding feature of the ancient temple city of Madurai.
Located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River, the temple is one of the ‘Paadal Petra Sthalam’: a collection of 275 temples of lord Shiva that are revered in the verses of Tamil Saiva Nayanars of 6th-9th century CE.
Said to have been built by the Pandayan Emperor Sadayavarman Kulasekaran I, somewhere between 1190 CE–1205 CE, the temple has gone through numerous rebuilds and restorations as the rulers of Madurai changed over time. The temple complex now houses 14 gopurams or towers, ranging from 45–50 m in height, with the southern gopuram being the tallest at 170 ft. The west gopuram of the temple is the model based on which the Tamil Nadu State Emblem was designed in 1949 by artist R. Krishna Rao who was a native of Madurai. It is the only state emblem that has the Indian Flag and a Hindu temple tower on its seal. A monograph on Rao, published by the Lalit Kala Akademi quotes him as saying, "Hailing from Madurai, it was only proper that I should incorporate the Madurai temple in the state government's emblem."
The complex also has numerous sculpted pillared halls such as Ayirakkal (1000-pillared hall) mandapam, Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam and Pudu-mandapam. Its shrines are dedicated to Hindu deities and Shaivism scholars, with the vimanas above the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of Meenakshi and Sundaresvarar gilded with gold. The temple is referred to as the celestial wedding hall hosting the wedding of the Goddess Meenakshi to the Lord Sundaresvarar in the Tamil month of Chithirai. Even today, it is an auspicious venue and hundreds of couples get married in its precincts.
The temple is a major pilgrimage destination and is the most prominent landmark in Madurai attracting tens of thousands of visitors a day. The city roads radiate from the temple complex and major ring roads form a concentric pattern for the city, a structure that follows the Silpa Sastra guidelines for a city design.
The Meenakshi Temple is a theologically and culturally significant temple for Hindus. According to the Tiruvilaiyatal Puranam, of the list of 68 pilgrimage places in Shaivism, four are most important: Kashi (Varanasi), Chidambaram, Tirukkalatti and Madurai.
Good to Know :
Location: 6.8km from Sterling V Grand Madurai
Timings: 5 AM to 12.30 PM and 4 PM to 9.30 PM
Rush Hour: Temple will be crowded on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and through November, December, May, June and Navaratri festival days.
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