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.
The traditional and radically different Indian alternative to the famous Spanish sport of bull fighting, Jallikattu is a sport played as a part of the celebrations during the harvest festival of Pongal.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal2 hrs
Built in 1635, by the King Thirumalai Nayak who had the vision of creating a masterpiece of a royal residence, it was designed for the king by an Italian architect.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral2 hrs
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Madurai, also known as the Church of Our Lady of Dolours, is one of the most popular churches not only in Madurai but also in Tamil Nadu.
Kazimar Big Mosque2 hrs
Said to be the first Islamic place of worship in Madurai city, Kazimar Big Mosque was built in 13th century by a descendant of Prophet Muhammad, Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin who had visited the city from Yemen.
Wholesale Banana Market1 hr
Are you bananas for bananas? Then you must visit the Wholesale Banana Market in Madurai.
Thiruparankundram Subramaniya Swamy Temple2 hr
One of the 6 temples of the ‘Arupadaiveedu’, dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Thiruparankundram Subramaniya Swamy Temple is one of the most prominent religious shrines in south India.
Vilachery Pottery Village3 hrs
A 30-minute drive from Madurai will take you to the fantastic and quaint village of Vilachery, best known as a pottery village where almost every single one of the 200 homes belongs to pottery artisans.
Looking for a gorgeous day-trip from Madurai? Look no further than Meghamalai!
Gandhi Memorial Museum2 hrs
Not many people know this, but the city of Madurai has played quite a role in the life of the Nation’s Father Mahatma Gandhi.
Pazhamudhircholai Murugan Temple2 hrs
One of the six important abodes of Lord Murugan – otherwise known as the ‘Arupadaiveedu’ - the Arulmigu Solaimalai Murugan Temple is located on the Pazhamudhircholai hill, north of Madurai.
Vaigai Dam2 hrs
Built across the river Vaigai, the Vaigai dam is one of the premier picnic spots in the area. The Vaigai dam itself is a lifeline for the people of Madurai, Theni and Dindgul.
Chettinad Maharaja’s Palace2hrs
Also known as the Kanadukathan Palace, this architectural wonder is a perfect example of traditional Chettinad Architecture.
Samanar hills are a beautiful blend of nature with history. Declared as a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India, these hills are associated with Jainism and Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions depict various facets of the religion.
Athisayam Theme Park4hrs
If you’re looking for a fun day out with family or friends, head to the Athisayam Theme Park in Madurai.
The Madurai Food Experience2hrs
Food and Madurai are so synonymous that it draws foodies from around the globe. The food in Madurai has evolved over centuries.