Saturday, 21 December 2013

Madurai Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Swamy Temple, Madurai


Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar:-


Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple (often called Meenakshi Amman Temple) is situated in the heart of the Madurai City, covering an area of 17 acres, the entire city being built around it.
Lord Shiva as Sundareswara or the Lord of beauty. The other sanctuaries is dedicated to Meenakshi, the wife of Shiva. Meenakshi is seen holding a parrot and a bouquet in her hand. The original temple created by Kulasekara Pandyan in the early years was in ruins. The present temple was reconstructed in the early 17th century by Tirumala Nayak. The temple is surrounded by Aadi, Chittiraj and the Massi streets.

Meenakshi (Meena meaning fish and akshi meaning eye) is the principal deity of the temple, and not Sundareswarar - this is unlike most Shiva temples in India where usually Shiva is the principal deity. And legend has it that Madurai is the actual place where the wedding of Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient in the world. In fact it was in the list of top 30 nominees of the “New Seven Wonders of the world”. The temple is situated in the heart of the city covering an area of 17 acres, the entire city was built around it.

       Contrary to the custom followed in all the major temples of Tamil Nadu Goddess Meenakshi (meaning fish eyed) is worshipped first by the devotees in this temple. In other temples the male deity will be worshiped first. Here Arti/Deeparadhana is done to Meenakshi first.
        Meenakshi was born with three breasts. The Pandya king and the queen, who were her parents, were told that the third breast will disappear when she sees the right man. This happened when she met Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva). Even today a statue with three breasts can be seen in Pudumandapam opposite temple.
The lady goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple and not Sundareswarar - this is unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity.

Shrines:-

 The central shrine of Meenakshi and her consort Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and each of these are protected by four minor towers at the four points of the compass, the outer tower growing larger and reaching higher to the corresponding inner one. The Sundareswara shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam (tower over sanctum). The area covered by the shrine of Sundareswarar is exactly one fourth of the area of the temple and that of Meenakshi is one fourth of that of Sundareswara.

Meenashi:-

 Devi Meenakshi, the fish-eyed Goddess, who stands with a parrot and a bouquet, radiating love and compassion. The sublime grace of the divine Mother and her infinite mercy are beyond words.
The Meenakshi’s idol is beautifully carved and her diamond nose ring dazzles in the glow of the oil lamps. She is always dressed in bright silk and looks gorgeous.

Sundareswarar:-


Lord Sundareswarar's shrine is situated in the Northern side of the Kilikoontu Mandapam. There is the idol of Lord Sri Ganesh called as the Mukkurini Pillaiyar. It is believed that the idol was found when the king Thirumalai Nayakar planned to built a tank about 3 kms from the temple. He found the idol and brought the same to the temple and erected it there.

The kadamba tree is present in the outer pragaram of the Lord Shiva's shrine. There is a dancing posture of the Lord present in the Shrine called as the Velli Ambalam which is covered with Silver all over. This is the one of the idol of Nataraja which is called as the Velli Sabhai. There is many Sabhai's present in the temples of Lord Shiva all over the state.
In the next sanctum is the shrine of Lord Nataraja where the Lord is worshiped in the dancing pose with his right foot raised. Adjacent to it is the sanctum of Sundareswarar, which is supported by 64 boothaganas (ghostly hosts), 8 elephants and 32 lions. The Sivalinga, which bears the names of deities such as Chokkanathar and Karpurachockar, inspires deep devotion.

Vinayaka:-

·        There is big statue of Lord Ganesh inside the temple. This 6 X 4 feet statue was discovered when the Nayak king was digging the earth for sand and stones for the temple. A big (Mukkuruni) kozukkattai or modak made up of 18 kilo rice and several kilos of jaggery/sugar is offered to it every year on Ganesh Chathurthy day. Kozukkattai or Modak is a steamed rice offering inside which is Puranam made of coconut or other grains.

History of the Meenakshi Temple:-

The shrine of Meenakshi at Madurai, popularly known as the Meenakshi Temple, was built during the reign of Chadayavarman Sundara Pandyan in the 12th century. The imposing 9-storey tower was built between the 13th and 16th century. During the 200-year reign of Nayakka rulers, many Mandapams (covered structure with pillars) were constructed in the temple premises, like the Hall of Thousand Pillars, Puthu Mandapam, Ashta Sakthi Mnadapam, Vandiyoor Theppakulam, and Nayakkar Mahal. The temple, as it stands today, was built between 12th and 18th century.

Mythology of Meenakshi Temple:-

The divine marriage where brother Vishnu hands his sister Parvati to Shiva (from left, Vishnu, Meenakshi, Shiva).

According to Hindu legend, Shiva came down to earth in the form of Sundareswarar to marry Meenakshi, an incarnation of [Parvati]. Parvati had earlier descended to earth in the form of a small child in response to the great penance of Malayadwaja Pandya, the ruler of Madurai. After growing up to adulthood, she began ruling the city. The Lord appeared on earth and proposed to her. The marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, was traveling to preside over the marriage from his holy abode at Vaikuntam. Due to a divine play, he was tricked by god [Indra] and delayed on the way. Meanwhile, the marriage was presided over by a local god [Koodal Azhaghar]. This is celebrated anually as ‘Chitirai Thiruvizha’ in Madurai. During the period of Nayakar rule in Madurai,in order to link the ‘Azhakar Thiruvizha’ and the ‘Chitirai Thiruvizha’ a story was added that Vishnu was angered and swore he’d never cross ‘Vaigai’ Later he was pacified by the other lords. Hence born the ‘Azhaghar Thiruvizha’.

Modern History of Meenakshi Temple:-

The history of the original structure is not properly known, but Tamil literature speaks about the temple for the last couple of millennia. [Thirugnanasambandar], the famous Hindu saint of [Shaiva] philosophy, has mentioned this temple as early as the 7th century, and describes the Lord as Aalavai Iraivan. The temple was believed to have been sacked by the infamous Muslim invader Malik Kafur in 1310and all the ancient elements were destroyed. The initiative to rebuild the structure was taken by [Arya Natha Mudaliyar] , the Prime Minister of the first Nayak of Madurai (1559-1600 A.D.), the founder of ‘Poligar System’. Then came the most valuable contributions of Thirumalai Nayak circa 1623 to 1659. He took considerable interest in erecting the Vasantha Mandapa of the temple complex.

About Madurai:-

The city of Madurai has been constructed in the form of a lotus and is built around the temple. Owing to its rich cultural heritage and architectural splendor, the city is often referred to as the 'Athens of the East'. The origin of Madurai dates back to the Sangam period, the golden period of Tamil Literature.According to mythology Madurai was earlier a forest called Kadambavanam. Once a merchant passing through the forest saw Indran, the King of Gods worshipping a Swayambhulingam under a Kadam tree. This was immediately reported to King Kulsekarer Pandayan. The king cleared the forest and built a splendid temple, known as the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarer Temple, around the holy Lingam and later built a beautiful lotus-shaped city surrounding the temple.In 302 BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai and was followed by Marcopolo and Ibn Batuta, all of whom mentioned about their visit in their travelogues. There were many others travelers, from countries like Rome and Greece, who visited the city and established trade with the Pandya Kings. Madurai was captured by the Cholas in the 10th century AD and was ruled till the end of the 13th century. In 1223 AD, Pandyas came to power again and patronized the Tamil language. The city became prosperous during the reign of the Pandya Kings.Many master-pieces or "Silapathikaram" were created during that time.

Legends:-

According to Hindu legend, in order to answer the prayers of the second Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai, Goddess Parvati appeared out of the Holy Fire of the Putra Kameshti Yagna performed by the king.

According to another legend, the goddess herself had given a boon to Kanchanamalai in one of her previous births that she will have the privelege of mothering the goddess. This girl, who came out of the holy fire had three breasts, to the king's shock. A voice from the heavens told him not be worried and that the third breast will vanish as soon as the girl meets her future husband. The happy king named the girl as 'Tadaatagai' and brought her up.

The girl does not have any realization of her birth and she grows up as a normal human girl. Being the heir to the throne after Malayadwaja, Tadaatagai was trained carefully in all the 64 fields of knowledge, which includes warfare, too. As the time came when Tadaatagai should be coronated, according to the customs, she had to wage war on the three worlds across eight directions (Digvijayam).

After conquering Satyaloka (Lord Brahma's Abode), Vaikuntha (Lord Vishnu's Abode) and Amaravati (the Divine Abode of the Devas), she advanced to Kailasha (Lord Shiva's Abode). She very easily defeats the Ganas and Nandi, the celestial bull, she headed to attack and conquer Shiva, the owner of the place. No sooner she looked at the Lord, the third breast vanished immediately.

Tadaatagai, realizes the reason and understands that Lord Shiva is her destined husband, and she realizes that she is the incarnation of Parvati. Then both of them return to Madurai and the king arranges the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage with Shiva, the next day.

The marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, was traveling to preside over the marriage from his holy abode at Vaikuntam. Due to a divine play, he was tricked by God Indra and delayed on the way.

Meanwhile, the marriage was presided over by a local god from Thirupparankundram Pavalaakanivaai Perumal. This is celebrated annually as 'Chitirai Thiruvizha' in Madurai.

During the period of Nayakar rule in Madurai, the ruler Thirumalai Nayakar then linked the 'Azhakar Thiruvizha' and the 'Meenakshi Wedding'. Hence born the 'Azhaghar Thiruvizha' or 'Chithirai Thiruvizha'.

Story of Kannagi:-

In fact, the Madurai that we know today is not the Madurai of ancient times, for it is said that the entire city was once destroyed in an all-consuming fire. The story behind that fire is told in the 5,270-lined epic poem Cilappatikaram ["The Story of the Jewelled Anklets"] written by a Jain monk by the name of Ilango Atikal in the 5th century C.E. According to the author of the poem, it is a story about the importance for kings following dharma, the glory of a chaste woman and the effects of past-life karma.
Kannagi    

Although Cilappatikaram was written only 1,500 years ago; the story itself is much older. The poet-monk only learned of the story when visiting the countryside near the Periyaru River with his brother, Senkuttuvan, a Chera King. On the banks of the river, villagers told the king and Ilango the story of Kannagi, a woman with a single breast who sat down under a tree and did austerities for 15 days, without food or water, until she died. The villagers worshipped Kannagi as the Goddess of Chastity, and her story so inspired the king that he asked his brother to immortalize it in poetry for the benefit of mankind.

Rather than retell the story, here are lines extracted from the translation by Professor A.L. Basham from the original Tamil.

Kovalan, the son of a wealthy merchant in Kaverippattinam, married Kannagi, the lovely daughter of another merchant. For some time they lived together happily, until, at a festival at the royal court, Kovalan met the dancer Madavi and fell in love with her. He bought her favours and in his infatuation forgot Kannagi and his home.

Gradually he spent all his wealth on the dancer. At last he was penniless, and returned repentantly to his uncomplaining wife. Their only fortune was a precious pair of anklets, which she gave to him willingly. With these as their capital they decided to go to the great city of Madurai, where Kovalan hoped to recoup his fortunes by trade.

On their arrival at Madurai, they found shelter in a cottage, and Kovalan went to the market to sell one of Kannagi's anklets. But the queen of Nedunjeliyan, the king of the Pandyas, had just been robbed of a similar anklet by a wicked court jeweller.

The jeweller happened to see Kovalan with Kannagi's anklet, and immediately seized it and informed the king. Guards were sent to apprehend Kovalan, who was then killed on the king's orders. When the news was brought to Kannagi, she went out into the town, with her eyes ablaze with anger, carrying the remaining anklet in her hand as proof of her husband's innocence. [The city caught ablaze from the fire in her eyes.]

At last the patron goddess of the city [Meenakshi] interceded with Kannagi, and she agreed to withdraw her curse, and the fire abated. Weak with loss of blood from her self-amputated breast, Kannagi struggled to a hill outside the city4, where after a few days she died, and was reunited with Kovalan in Heaven. Meanwhile the news of her death spread throughout the Tamil Land. She was deified, temples were raised and festivals held in her honour, and she became the patron goddess of wifely loyalty and chastity.

About Temple:-




Meenakshi temple has a total of 12 Gopurams inside among which South Towers is largest with 170 m. It houses 1511 idols with postures describing the legends associated with them. The most amazing thing to be noticed is that sculptural work and paintings are very delicate, detailed and  artistic.
The Raja Gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the Pudu Mandapam and the Thirumalai Nayakar's Palace are living examples of his passion for art. Later, Madurai slipped into the hands of the British's East India Company. In 1781, British appointed George Procter to look after the city. He was the first collector of Madurai.After independence, Madurai became one of the major commercial districts of Tamil Nadu. It is surrounded by several hills, mainly Annamalai, Pasumalai and Nagamalai, named after their resemblance to an Elephant, a Cow and a Snake respectively. The city is a major exporter of Jasmine flowers. Due to its historical background, the temple city of Madurai attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year from India and abroad. “


The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is commonly referred to as the Meenakshi temple.The main deity Sundareswarar means the Beautiful Lord and His divine wife Meenakshi means One who rules the world through her eyesight[citation needed] and Koil means temple in Tamil. The temple forms the heart and lifeline for the 2500 year old city of Madurai that is believed to be the home for the classical language of Tamil.

 According to the Hindu legends, Lord Shiva with his divine group of followers appeared here in this city of Madurai, to marry the daughter of the Pandya ruler, Meenakshi, who is believed to be a form of Hindu goddess Parvati. This temple is one of the most sacred abodes of Parvathi, others being Kamakshi of Kanchipuram, Akilandeswari of Thiruvanaikaval and Vishalakshi of Varanasi.Both the marriage and the Vishnu's passification are still celebrated as the biggest festival in Madurai, name Azhakar Thiruvizha (the festival for the beautiful lord). A detailed article on the divine marriage can be found here.The divine couple are believed to have ruled the region for a long time and it is not clear what happened to the place after they left. Another legend says that the Shiva's deity in the form of Linga was discovered by the god of heaven, Indra who built the original temple. This tradition is still followed in the temple with the deity is accompanied by a model of Indra's vehicle, during festive processions.


The temple has a stunning architecture and was a frontrunner in the election for the modern seven wonders of the world for its architectural importance. The complex houses 12 magnificent gopurams or towers that are elaborately scultptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built only in the early 17th century. According to Hindu legend, the Lord Shiva came down to earth in the form of Sundareswarar to marry the goddess Meenakshi, who is a form of Parvati, Shiva's divine consort. Parvathi had earlier descended to earth in the form of a small kid in response to the great penance of Malayadwaja Pandya, the ruler of Madurai. After growing up she starts ruleing the city and the Lord appears on earth and proposes to marry her. According to Hindu mythology, the marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Lord Vishnu the divine brother of Meenakshi was traveling to preside over the marriage from his holy abode at Vaikuntam. Due to a divine play, He was tricked by god Indra and delayed on the way and the in the meanwhile marriage is presided over by a local god Koodal Azhaghar. This angers Lord Vishnu very much and he swears never to enter the city and settles in the outskirts at the beautiful hill of Alagar Koil. He was later convinced by other gods and he proceeded to bless the divine couple - Shiva and Parvati.Many majestic towers (gopurams), small and big, beckon one and all to this historic temple. As it is a common practice to worship Devi Meenakshi first and then Lord Sundareswarar, devotees enter the temple through the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam on the eastern street, named after the figures of eight sakthis represented on the pillars on two sides. At this Mandapam, one can see the vivid scriptural representation of Devi Meenakshi's wedding with Ganesha and Subramanya on either side.A three-storied 'gopuram' stands at the entrance of the shrine and on the outer sanctum, the golden flagstaff, Thirumalai Nayakar Mandapam, brass images of Dwarapalakas, and shrines of Vinayaka can be seen. The Maha Mandapam or the inner sanctum can be reached through the doors in Arukal Peedam where the shrines of Ayravatha Vinayakar, Muthukumarar, and the celestial bedroom is extant. In the shrine, Devi Meenakshi is depicted as the fish-eyed goddess who stands with a parrot and bouquet, emanating love and grace.In the next sanctum is the shrine of Lord Nataraja where the Lord is worshiped in the dancing pose with his right foot raised. Adjacent to it is the sanctum of Sundareswarar, which is supported by 64 boothaganas (ghostly hosts), 8 elephants and 32 lions. The Sivalinga, which bears the names of deities such as Chokkanathar and Karpurachockar, inspires deep devotion.Lord Siva appeared on the naming ceremony of the city and blessed it. The divine nectar (madhu) from the tangled locks of Siva fell on the blessed city and so, the city came to be known as "Madhurapuri". It is also said that centuries ago Lord Siva himself performed sixty-four wonders, called "Thiruvilaiyadals", in Madurai. Thus, the holy city finds reference in the great Indian epics - Ramayana, Kautilyas and Arthasastra. Madurai also served as the capital of Pandayan Kings.



In the next sanctum is the shrine of Lord Nataraja where the Lord is worshiped in the dancing pose with his right foot raised. Adjacent to it is the sanctum of Sundareswarar, which is supported by 64 boothaganas (ghostly hosts), 8 elephants and 32 lions. The Sivalinga, which bears the names of deities such as Chokkanathar and Karpurachockar, inspires deep devotion. This hall is a testimony to the excellence of Dravidian architecture. The hall has 985 pillars and is so arranged that from every angle they appear to be in a straight line. At the entrance is the equestrian statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar who built this consortium of art and architecture. The 'chakram' (wheel of time) engraved on the ceiling denoting the 60 Tamil years is truly spellbinding. The images of Manmatha, Rathi, Arjuna, Mohini, and the Lady with a flute are nonetheless awe-inspiring. There is a unique exhibition of rare artifacts and idols in this hall.The Famous Musical Pillars & Mandapams,


 The Musical Pillars are near the northern tower, and there are five musical pillars each consisting of 22 smaller pillars - carved out of a single stone - that produce musical notes when tapped.Hundreds of devotees catch hold of the two big ropes by which the float is drawn and they await the signal to start. One rope is pulled by men standing on the central island and second by those on the bank of the lake. After the final ritual of worship the priests give the signal and the men strain at the ropes.Slowly, the great float moves away from the shore and begins its circuit. As the men on the rope run along the bank of Teppakulam the thousands of spectators crowding there enjoy by shouting the names of the deities in great joy. The float itself moves around the lake at slow, steady pace. After a couple of rounds, which take more than three hours, the ornamental raft is mooved to the central island and remains there till the evening. All through the day, a number of boats ply to the island bringing thousands of devotees to worship.

Both these temples of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar are connected with a beautiful corridor. Inside the Sundareshwarar temple there is a beautiful idol of Nataraja. This is one of the Pancha sabhas of Nataraja called Velli Ambalam (the deity is adorned with silver kavacham) the other one I have visited was Nellaiappar Kovil (see my earlier post on Nellaiyappar Kovil Tirunelveli). The idol here is beautiful and around 10 foot high. Unlike the other Nataraja’s idols in a dance posture with their left leg raised the one here is having right raised which is a unique feature. It is really wonderful to watch the cosmic dance form of Lord Nataraja. It is believed that a sincere devotee requested the god to change his posture as it would be stressful to use the same leg posture always and the Lord obliged. The Siva lingam here is also beautiful.

As we come out of the Sundareshwa sannidhi we can see Dakshinamoorthy, Lingodbhavar, Durgai Amman sub shrines and Chandikeshwarar. While praying to Chandikeshwarar we have to clap our hands while praying as he is supposed to be sleeping.

When we come out of Sundarehwarar temple we can see small shrines dedicated to Danda yudhapani, Siva, and Navagrahas etc. and out side is a Nandi mandapam and the flag post in front. Nandi mandapam has beautiful carvings on all four sides.

 The four outer Gopuras in the four directions are marvellous works of art. They are of perfect proportions, though they were built at different time and though, moreover, they have been repaired and renovated from time to time. The Gopuras of Tamil Nadu, by themselves, form a chapter in the history of Indian Art. Some of the brightest pages are due to the towers of Madurai.

 West Gopura:-

The west Gopura was built in the fourteenth century, a troubled period in the history of the temple and the city following the Muslim invasions. It is difficult to believe that a venture of this magnitude could have been possible in that time of travail. But the sources of information are clear. They attribute the Gopura to a Parakrama Pandya. There were many kings of that name in the century. Since the famous Pandya crest of two carps appears on this Gopura, it may be accepted that the Pandyas did build it. This was their swan song in the temple, which will always be associated with their piety, munificence and glory. It is 48m high, rising on a base that is 31m by 14m. Like the three other Gopuras, it is of nine tiers.

 Southern Gopura:-

The most beautiful and the most artistic of the four, the southern, frequently photographed for its lovely eminence over the Golden Lily Tank, is also the tallest, 49m. Its stone base measures 32.9m by 20.4m. The tower sweeps in a graceful curve. It was built about the middle of the sixteenth century by Siramalai Sevvanthi Murti Chettiar, a scion of a family of Tiruchi, which has contributed much to the temple.

Northern Gopura:-

The latest in date is the northern Gopura, which was built by Krishna Veerappa Nayak (1564-72). For some reason, it was without a Sikhara and was not plastered. Therefore, it was called the "Mottai" Gopura. The deficiencies were supplied in renovation about the end of the last century.

Such an ancient and renowned fane has attracted considerable literature and many beautiful traditions, apart from those narrated above. It is said for example Rous Peter, a Collector in the early decades of the last century, was so beloved of the people that they called him "Peter Pandya". Every day he would go round the temple on horseback. One night when he was asleep, there was heavy rain. A little girl woke him up and beckoned him outside his house. The girl then vanished. Peter, convinced that She was Goddess Meenakshi, presented valuable jewels to the temple.

Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam:-

Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam is a huge hall, adjoining Ashta Shakthi Mandapam. It comprises of 110 pillars, which are adorned with the figures of a peculiar animal called Yalli, with the body of a lion and the head of an elephant.

Potramaraikulam (Golden Lotus Tank):-

Potramaraikulam is a huge tank, where devotees take bath in the holy water. The area surrounding the temple used to serve as the meeting place of Tamil Sangam, the ancient academy of poets. The works of its members were judged by throwing them in the water. The ones that did not sink in the tank were considered worthy of attention. A pillared corridor surrounds the holy tank.

Oonjal Mandapam and Killikoontu Mandapam:-

The western side of the tank houses the Oonjal (swing) Mandapam and Killikoontu (parrot cage) Mandapam. The golden idols of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed on the swing in the Oonjal Mandapam every Friday. The parrots kept in the Kilikoontu Mandapam recite Meenakshi's name.

Thousand Pillar Mandapam:-


There is a massive hall in the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which comprises of 985 magnificently sculptured Dravidan columns. Known as the Thousand Pillar Mandapam, this hall also houses an art museum, with a rich collection of icons, photographs, drawings, etc.

Musical Pillars:-

To the west of the Thousand Pillar Mandapam are the Musical Pillars. The specialty of these pillars is that each one of them produces a different musical note, when stuck.

Kalyana Mandapa:-

Kalyana Mandapa lies to the south of Thousand Pillar Mandapam. It serves as the venue of the marriage festival of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, held every year during the Chitirai Festival in mid-April.

Vasantha Mandapam (Pudhu Mandapam):-

Thirumalai Nayakkar built the Vasantha Mandapam, also known as Pudhu Mandapam. Every year, the hall plays host to Vasanthosavam, the Spring Festival, held in the Hindu month of Vaikasi (April/May). The pillars of the hall are adorned with elaborate sculptures of Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi, scenes from their wedding, along with the figures of ten of the Nayak Kings and their consorts.

Temples around Madurai:-

Koodal Alagar Temple:-

 A famous temple, situated of the city. The sanctum sanctorums of this temple are seen one above the other, it is unique to this temple. Convenient steps have been provided to reach the top floors. Just like the Peria koil tower of Tanjore, the shadows of Astanganga vimanam do not fall on the ground. The stone walls on the 3 sides of the Athittanam are full of artistic works. Sun's rays reach the sanctum sanctorum through the 7 windows in this wall. There are beautiful sculptures made of lime mortar on the Vimanam (structure over the sanctum sanctorum). In the third floor, the scenes of "Dasavatharam"(the ten Incarnations) are depited with lime mortar sculptures around the shrine. The shrine of goddess thayar Maragathavalli, built with granite stones and carved with sculptural works is seen here. There is an unjal mandapam (swinging mandapam) full of artistic wooden works.

Kallalagar Temple:-

 Kallazhagar temple is one among the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. It is located 20 kms from the Temple town of South India, Madurai. The presiding deity of this temple is also known as Meenakshi Amman's brother. The temple is situated in a scenic milieu with Vrishabhadri hill at the backdrop for this temple. There are 2 forts near the temple.The temple gate is guarded by the deity Karuppannasami.

Tiruvedagam:-

 Nestled 20 kms from Madurai in the town of Tiruvedakam, lies the Shiva temple of Edakanatheswarar. This temple is on the banks of Vaigai river and is very closely associated with Tirugnanasambandar.

Thiruvadavur:-

 One of the most enchanting temples in my Madurai trip. A huge temple with only a very few people around. This is one of the favorite temples I would like to go back and spend time in.


Thiruparankundram:-

 Thiruparankundram is one of the 6 adobes of Lord Karthikeya. The sanctrum santorum here is constructed out of one huge rock. The temple resides in a mountain which takes different shapes when seen from different directions. The majestic hill of Thiruparankundram is the first Aarupadaiveedu (out of the six) abode of Lord Murugan. This is the place where the Lord married Devasena the daughter of Lord Indra (King of Gods).

Thirumohur:-

 When the asuras tried to stand among the devas, in order to get a share, Surya and Chandra identified them, where by their heads were replaced by snake's heads and they became rahu and kethu. So this is a place where pariharams may be offered to rahu and kethu. The puranic name of Thirumohur.

Palamudhircholai:-

The holy shrine of Pazhamudircholai is nestled 13 miles away from Madurai. Pazhamudircholai was earlier known as Solai malai. This pilgrim abode is one of the six Arupadaiveedu (six abodes) of Lord Murugan. The town of pazhamudircholai is known to be very rich in vegetables, flowers and fruits. Hence it derive this name pazhamudircholai: Pazham -fruit, udir - shake and cholai - garden. The temple is located on top of Azhagar Malai Hill. At the foot of this hill is the Vishu Temple, Azhagar Koil.
Murugan. This is the place where the Lord married Devasena the daughter of Lord Indra (King of Gods).

Thirumohur:-

When the asuras tried to stand among the devas, in order to get a share, Surya and Chandra identified them, where by their heads were replaced by snake's heads and they became rahu and kethu. So this is a place where pariharams may be offered to rahu and kethu. The puranic name of Thirumohur .

Vandiyur Thepakaulam Mariamman temple:-

Mariamman Teppakulam is a huge 16-acre water tank situated at about 5 km distance from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Located in the region of Vandiyur, the tank has a Vinayaka temple at the center, which can be accessed only by water. Near the tank is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Mariamman and hence the name ‘Mariamman Teppakulam' (Teppakulam meaning water tank in Tamil).

Temple Timings:-
 04:00 to 12:30 and 16:00 to 21:45
Pooja Timings:-
    Thiruvanandhal Pooja
    05:00 - 06:00
    Vilaa Pooja
    06:30 - 07:00
    Kaalasandhi Pooja
    07:30 - 08:30
    Thirikaalasandhi & Uchikkaala Pooja
    10:30 - 11:30
    Saayaratchai Pooja
    16:30 - 17:00
    Arthajama Pooja
    19:30 - 20:40
    Palliyarai Pooja
    21:00 - 21:30

There are close to 50 priests in the temple who perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to Shivaite to the Adishaivas, a Brahmin sub-caste. The priests live in a closed area north of the temple.The temple has a six time pooja calendar everyday, each comprising four rituals namely abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai(waving of lamps) for both Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. The puja (worship) ceremonies are held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast.

 Festivals:-

 The most important festival associated with the temple is the "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam" (The divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year. The marriage of the divine couple is regarded as a classic instance of south Indian female-dominated marriage, The marriage brings together rural and urban people, deities and mortals, Saivas (those who worship Shiva) andVaishnavas (those who worship Vishnu) in order to celebrate Meenakshi as the royal monarch. During the one month period, there are a number of events including the "Ther Thiruvizhah" (chariot festival) and "Theppa Thiruvizhah" (float festival). As per the tradition , even today every evening, before closing the temple, a ritual procession led by drummers and a brass ensemble carries the image of Sundareswarar to Meenakshi's bedroom to consummate the union, to be taken back to his day setting the next morning at dawn.

How to Reach:-

By Air:-
 Madurai is well-connected by domestic flights with Mumbai and Chennai. The Airport is 10 km away from the main city.

By Rail:-
 Madurai is well-connected by direct trains with cities like Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Bangalore, Rameshwaram, Tanjore, etc.

By Road:-
Madurai is well-connected with all the major cities of Sough India. the city has 5 major bus stands - Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Periyar Bus Stand, Mattuthavani Bus Stand and Arapalayam Bas Stand.

2 comments:

  1. Nice one. I have visited a website which had the contents of the most popular temples around India with brief and clear informations. Please check out the following website:
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  2. Hi mehathi, i just checked out the website www.templedetails.com
    Got more information about all popular temples. It was good. Thanks for your information.

    ReplyDelete