Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is certainly a visitor’s paradise, since the astounding and marvelous temple complex situated in the heart of the ancient and cultural city of Madurai showcases a deep connection with art, history, heritage and architecture that is very unique in splendor and substance.

The temple which is devoted to Mother Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwarar, the presiding deities is considered to be a master piece construction. It is believed that Lord Shiva himself descended upon this holy place to seek the hand of Goddess Meenakshi, a place where the celestial wedding took place.

The imposing majestic towers of the temple with thousands of sculptures, the outstanding artwork that embellish the various mandapams, apart from the skillfully crafted stone pillars are striking features of this temple with a rich connect of culture and heritage. It is a treasure trove waiting to be explored; no matter how many times one pays a visit to this iconic landmark.



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The Sanctum Sanctorum of Meenakshi Shrine :

The Meenakshi shrine and its prakaarams are inspiring in devotion and take the visitor in a spirit of awe and admiration for its elegance and beauty. The garbhagriha of the sanctorum is almost a square measuring about 25 feet each side with the ardha mandapam on its front.

One would wonder how it was possible to get such detailed skill work on the stone pillars that are standing out for years as an architectural beauty combining precision based symmetry and elegant grace.

The garbhagriha has a Gajalakshmi panel on its beam under a thornam. This feature is unique since a welcome by the elephants is auspicious. The ardha mandapam has a plain interior and there are no pillars to give an impression of the space.

The mahaa mandapam has six rows of pillars forming a central nave and three on the aisles on either side, which are ordinary conical in type, but would give a pleasing look to the viewer.

The image of Meenakshi in the sanctorum must be one of the most powerful icons ever sculpted in any temple, as it is found here in Madurai. The ravishing treat for the devotee to get a glimpse of the blushing new bride resplendent in her wedding finery with attire and ornaments that go well is a sight to behold.

Facing the gopuram is the aarukaal peetam of the shrine. At the south east corner of this corridor are the stucco figures of Thirumalai Nayakar and his queens facing the kolu mandapam in the south west corner at the other end of the southern prakaram.

The Sanctum Sanctorum of Lord Shiva Shrine :

The sanctorum of Lord Shiva shrine is surrounded by the sculptures depicting the entire Thiruvilayadal (Divine Sport), which would transcend time to through the corridors of history, bringing the play through colourful sculptures. The 12 feet figure which imposingly stands at the entrance gives a feeling of the strong presence of the lord inside.

Lord Sundarehswara is personified in the sanctum sanctorum as the Shiva Lingam which is considered to be the very one worshiped by Devendra. He is known as Thiru Aalavayudaiya Naayanar or Thambiran in temple epigraphs. The Kalladam a Tamil literary work of the 9th century refers to Lilas performed by Lord Sundraseshwara.

Lord Sundareshwarar is embodied in a lingam form in the sanctum sanctorum in the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai. The construction of a Vimanan (tower over the sanctum sanctoroum) conforms to the Sthala Puraanam (temple history). Along the peripheral walls of the sanctum sanctorum one can see majestic sculptures of elephants. This is known as Indra Vimanam. Eight elephants known as Ashta Diggajangal will be supporting the Vimanam in eight directions.

This is one such place which must rank as the must visit place at least once in a life time, so as to witness the extravagant colour and detailed skillful sculptures, which truly is an architectural marvel.

Facets of the Temple :

Inscriptions :

Meenakshi Amman Temple is a treasure for ancient inscriptions alongside the walls and main portion of the temple complex. Saint Thirugnana Sambandar has sung in praise of the temple in his Madurai Thiruppadikam.

Among the hundreds, the Archaeological Survey of India have identified and copied sixty four inscriptions, many of which belong to the later Pandia periods. Inscriptions are also found on the rule of kings during various periods and their contribution towards heritage, culture and literature.

Golden Lotus Pond :

The iconic Golden Lotus Pond in Meenakshi Amman Temple is an important facet that one can never miss during the visit to the temple. Legend has it that Indra offered a golden lotus from this pond to Lord Shiva to absolve himself of the sin of killing Virthraasura. The pond has no marine life on account of the boom that lord Shiva granted to a stork as per an anecdote in Thiruvilayadal. The corridors around the pond have mural paintings of the colourful depictions of the divine sports of lord Sundareshwarar.

Thousand Pillared Mandapam :

The thousand pillared mandapam is a huge edifice that is located in the north east corner of the Aadi Street. It is spread in an area of 60,000 sq feet and faces south with an entrance that leads to a long central nave with two rows of pillars on either side of it totaling 985 pillars. It is sculptured beautifully with iconographic figures. The shrine contains a large image of Nataraja
showing him dancing on top of a large Kurma Peetam. Yallis are stupendously sculptured in single stone along the pillars which is very unique

Kalyana Mandapam :

This mandapam reflects the same grandeur that prevailed during the celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi. It symbolizes auspicious beginnings and the festivities of the God and Goddess are commenced with a special puja from here. The mandapam has beautiful carvings and nuances of the divine sports which are depicted with great finish by skilled artisans. The important festival relating to the Meenakshi Sundareshwarar’s marriage takes place here annually which is world class in terms of pageant and splendor.

Pudhu Mandapam :

In order to celebrate festivals held during the summer season, the kings of the Vijayagara dynasty and those belonging to the Nayakars built spacious mandapams within the precincts of the temples. One such major attraction of the Meenakshi Amman Temple is the Pudhu Mandapam built by Thirumalai Nayakar which is located in front of the East Gopuram.

It is a large corridor measuring 34,650 sq feet. Along the length of it is a central nave with an aisle on either side of it provided by four rows of pillars. This canopied mandapam is also known as the Vasantha Mandapam to which the images of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar are brought on special occasions.

Gopurams :

The Towers of Meenakshi Amman Temple are very unique and spectacular which attracts the details of the eye with awe and admiration. Most of the fables of the Hindu mythology find a place on these towers.The four main outer gopurams on the east, west, north and south have a singular beauty and grace of their own.

The East Gopuram: Considered to be the oldest among the outer gopurams, this is with 9 tires and a height of 153 feet. It carries 1011 architectural stucco images.

The West Gopuram: This gopuram is 154 feet high and has 1124 stucco images and has a story to tell of the vision of the creator with meaningful depictions of the sculptures.

The South Gopuram: The most iconic of all the gopurams is this south gopuram since it is situated near the picturesque Golden Lotus Tank. It is 160 feet high and has been embellished with 1511 stucco images. The sloping edges of the south gopuram have a concave sweeping curve that is more visible than the other gopurams which is what makes it stand out.

The North Gopuram: This stands at a height of 152 feet and has 404 stucco images. This gopuram has cubicles and a carved ceiling similar to those in the south gopuram.

Festivals at Meenakshi Amman Temple :

Month of April – Chithirai :

Celebrated for 12 days during April, this festival brings out the pomp, colour and splendour of the temple, which includes the Celestial Wedding of Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwarar.

Month of May – Vaikasi :

The spring festival is hosted for 10 days and on the 10th day milk and mango are offered to the deities

Month of June – Aani :

Oonjal festival is conducted for 10 days and on the10th day triple fruit pooja is performed.

Month of July – Aadi :

The Aadi Mulaikottu is celebrated for 10 days. Special recitak of Nadhaswaram are usually the highlight of this festival in devotion to Amman.

Month of August – Aavani :

Celebrated for 18 days. The famous episode of Lord Shiva carrying soil for earning pittu is enacted.

Month of September – Purataasi :

The much famous Navarathri festival is celebrated in a grand manner with an attractive golu that captivates the mind and is very pleasing to the eyes and mind.

Month of October – Aipasi :

Kolaattam is conducted for 6 days at the temple in which women dance kolaaatam with short sticks in colourfiul attire.

Month of November – Karthigai :

Deepam – lights festival is conducted for 10 days at the temple. On the day of Kaarthigai more than one lakh lamps are lit at the temple which is an beautiful sight.

Month of December- Maargazhi :

Oil anointing ceremony is conducted for 9 days at the temple. The deity of Meenakshi Amman is taken out in a procession on the Chitirai Streets. Month of January – Thai: The float festival is conducted for 12 days. On the 12th day an impressive float festival is conducted.

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