Meenakshi Temple Madurai

By Sanjeev Nayyar esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net | 2016

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Meenakshi Temple Madurai. Left of pic is West gopuram. Right is North gopuram. U see the Golden Lotus Tank. According to tradition Indra worshipped Bhagavan Shiva with Golden Lotus Flowers from this tank. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam (tower over sanctum)." Centre of pic u can see gold plated vimana.

Pic by Mahesh Venkateswaran whom I met in Barsana near Mathura, he is nice to give us permission to use this pic. Overview of temple from a hotel whose name I forget. U can see the 4 gopurams, east west north south. Very good angle. "Madurai''s temple architecture exhibits a seamless synergy of the distinctive aesthetics of its rulers. If Pandya rulers, till 1334, gave its majestic towers, the Vijayanagara kings 1377-1560 added monolithic pillars and the Nayaks 1600-1750 large prakarms and pillared halls".

We present temple pics in two parts. First is this which focuses on external. Second is inside temple. East side gopuram. "The name Madurai is traced from Madura or the sweet nectar of Shiva." Detailed captions info taken from Heritage Holidays in India published by Outlook Travellers. Do buy, very useful.

Vertical view east tower. There are 12 gopurams. "This tower was constructed by Maravarman Sundarapandian the Pandian King (1216 - 1238). The tower is 153.3 feet in height, and the base measurers 111.3 feet by 65.6 feet. This bears 1011 episodes from puranams sculptured in it."

Side view. Can today''s engineers make such a huge gopuram. "Madurai is also revered as one of the five Cosmic Dance Halls of Shiva. It is believed that Shivji performed the Dance of Bliss at the Hall of Silver." This tower was constructed by Maravarman Sundarapandian the Pandian King (1216 - 1238).

Lower part stone, upper stuccos. Stone has been replaced at many places as you can see. Probably there were stone images in the niches earlier. Temple is about 258 meters in length and 241.4 meters in breadth.

Stucco east front. Lower centre shows man with many faces and hands with musical instrument in hand. On cow is Shiva and Parvati. Next to that is man with head of a cow.

East gopuram left side close up. "This is a twin temple. Temple in southern side is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi and the other to Lord Sundareswarar."

East gopuram right side top. Centre of gopuram large face like thing is Kirti Mukha - to keep away evil spirits. "Gopurams covered from top to bottom with multi-colored images of celestial beings and mythological figures. The towers are noted for stucco work."

Side top view of east gopuram. Lots of trees on east and west side. Gives you a idea of the size at a higher level. "The Meenakshi shrine is one of the 51 Shakti peetams. It is one of the five (panchas) of Lord Nataraj. The Shrine is glorified as the Velliambalam".

Side view top close up of Kirti Mukha. Centre of pic and below the Kirti Mukha is image of a Goddess flanked by dwarpalas (doorkeepers) on either side. In the niches all around are ladies could be Apsaras. Wish had taken a close up only of the top part of gopuram.

Mid level view of both sides. "The original Meenakshi Temple was razed to the ground in 1311 by Malik Kafur. The sanctum however survived. In 1510 Vishwanatha Nayak remade the temple at the same spot.

At gopuram entrance on pavement shop. Behind where men sitting is stone images which represents Ravana attempting to lift Mount Kailash, the abode of Bhagwan Shiva and his Consort Devi Parvathi. Details of towers taken from the official temple site. Thanks.

Now there is a walking path around the temple. U cross path and enter what could be a Mandapam. It now has shops. U see warriors on horse. "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 that of Sundareswarar."

When I walked in saw lots of shops amidst images. Best things prayers continue to be offered. This is Badrakali, the fierce form (marak tatva) of the Divine Energy Shakti who destroys evil.

Meenakshi Kalyanam - Mahavishnu giving away (kanyadhan) Meenakshi to Somasundarar. "A great warrior Meenakshi reached Mount Kailash. Shiva promised to wed her at Madurai, as Sundareshwarar (Shiva of Beauty). Vishnu gave the bridal away in a celestial wedding like none other. The couple stayed on as presiding deities of Madurai and still watch over the city".

Shiva as Nataraja. Read Many aspects of Shiva by Dr Karan Singh Click here

Temple board. Very clean and organised temple. "Temple has two sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara". Thanks friends for helping with some captions.

To left of east gopuram entrance. Left side is Ganesha. Right is his brother Murugan. Top centre left to right second is Ganesha, third is Nandikeshwarar, right with three heads is Brahma. Centre not sure could be a form of Vishnu, centre lady and right could be form of Shiva because of the crescent.

As you walk in there are stone images and shops on either side and a nicely painted ceiling. There are five towers above the sanctum of the Lord. To read about the Towers Click here

View of Gold Lily Tank with north side gopuram and The Thousand Pillared Hall where Shivji performed the dance of bliss. Close to this temple is the Koodalazhagar Temple, one of the 109 celestial abodes of Vishnu revered by the Alwars".

West side gopuram, pic about 5 pm. If you want to click pics then first take from outside, leave camera in hotel and go with cell camera inside temple.

West side tower, imposing. "This was constructed by King Parakrama Pandian during his reign between 1315 and 1347. This has a height of 154.6 feet with a base length of 101 feet and a width of 63.6 feet. This tower houses 1124 sculptures of mythological importance."

Close up of west gopuram. Creativity at work.

Close up right side of west tower.

Close up left side of west tower.

Top part west tower.

Went to the terrace of a building to click west tower evening. Shop was owned by a Kashmiri, nice of him. Around the temple saw lots of shops owned by Kashmiris - in this case some three floors. Did not see any customers. Very good collection of items, not only Kashmiri. Seen similar wow shop in Thanjavur just outside Maratha Palace. Hope they make money.

Close up of tower top, showed both sides so you get idea of great work.

Close up of stuccos.

Temple has various entrances. U see gopuram inside temple complex. These are in addition to the four gopurams in four directions.

Group of people from Rajasthan. Saw lots of Rajasthanis in Rameshwaram and Madurai.

North side tower. "Construction of this tower was started by Krishnaveerappanaicker (1564 - 1572) and completed by the family of Amaravathi Pudur Vayinagaram Nagappa Chetti in 1878. This is 152 feet in height and the length of the base is 111.6 feet with a width of 66.6 feet. This houses 404 carvings depicting mythological stories."

Right side view going up to the top.

North side side view from bottom. How did our ancestors make such wow monuments? Creative, innovative and above all love for Parvati and Shiva.

Close up north side gopuram. Missed seeing the Mukkuruni Vinayakar shrine that has a huge deity of Ganesha. To see pics of the wow Nayak Palace Madurai 1.5 kms away Click here

View of gopuram inside temple complex through north side gopuram entrance. Design is different from what you saw earlier. This link nicely tells you about what to see in templeClick here

South side tower. "It was constructed in the year 1559 by Siramalai Sevanthi Murthy Chetti. It is the tallest of the temple towers measuring 160.9 feet in height, with a base area of 108 feet by 67 feet 1511 mythological figures are seen in it." To see pics of Meenakshi on official temple site Click here

Left side view going to the top. To see a video of 1000 pillared hall Click here

Close up right side of south tower. To see video of panoramic view of temple Click here