The ultimate glory of temple style of South India, Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most popular attractions of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, India. This sacred temple is well-known for its 1000 pillars. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is also called as Meenakshi Amman Temple which is situated at the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is a renowned historic Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Sundareswarar and his consort, Goddess Parvati in the form of Meenakshi, principal deity of the temple. This holy shrine is surrounded by 14 magnificent Gopurams which includes two golden Gopurams for the main deities. These Gopurams have been painted beautifully from bright colors and are also marvelously sculptured.
This sacred temple has an eminent and exquisitely carved tower enveloping the temple and temple wall was painted depict its founding legend, dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi. Meenakshi temple consists of the twin temples of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva. Both the temples are about nine-story high.
The structure of this famous historic Hindu temple which is standing till today was built between 1623 and 1655 CE. There are several popular stories related to Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. It is believed that the Indra founded the Meenakshi temple when he was on a pilgrimage to atone for his misdeeds. Suddenly, Indra felt his burden lifting as he neared the swayambu lingam (self-formed lingam which is a representation of Shiva being used for worship in temples) of Madurai. He ascribed this miracle to the lingam and constructed the temple. Indra worshipped Lord Shiva, who, in his grace, caused golden lotuses to appear in the nearby pool. The exact time of temple’s origin is not confirmed but it was built by Survivor of the Kumari Kandam. In the 14th century, the Sultanate Muslim Commander, Malik Kafur looted the temple and its valuables. The present temple standing today was rebuilt in the 16th Century by the Nayak rulers Vishwanatha Nayakar. This holy shrine is a great example of magnificent sculptures and architecture which is having majestic stonewalls and towers.
The image of Goddess Meenakshi is believed to be carved out of a single emerald. Various kings renovated this temple, corridor which is surrounding the sanctum is called Kilikoondu Mandapam (“birdcage corridor”). According to a legend, in this historical temple, the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Shiva took place. Every summer, marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi is still celebrated with great gaiety and enthusiasm.
These most prominent temple witnesses around 15,000 visitors per day. You can see a huge crowd, especially on Friday. In the month of April and May, a festival named ‘Meenakshi Trukalyanam’ is celebrated there with great enthusiasm. There are more than 50 priests in the temple who perform the Puja (rituals) every day and also during festivals.