Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple which is located in the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. This is among the most famous temples of India which is known throughout the world for its outstanding and impressive architectural beauty. In Hindu religion temple is the place which is reserved for spiritual and religious activities that include prayers and analogous rites.
Sri Meenakshi temple of Madurai is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati). Goddess Meenakshi is an incarnation of the Goddess Parvati who is worshiped mainly by South Indians. The utmost architectural wonder of this temple is a testimony to the affluent Dravidian Culture. Some of the prominent features of this colossal temple are:
This temple was built by Kulasekara Pandyan around 2000 years ago. The colossal structure of this temple is among the finest preserved monuments of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. Architectural and sculptural magnificence is the aspect of this temple which makes it popular throughout the world. The temple premise is surrounded by elevated wall which is adorned with various paintings and sculptures. The main deities of this temple are Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi, whose sanctums are encircled by number of smaller shrines and majestic pillared halls. Among the several magnificent structures the most striking ones are the 12 gopurams which are known for their bright colors painting and decoration of stucco figures of deities, animals, monsters, demigods, and celestial nymph.
Ashta Shakthi Mandapam:
This is located at the eastern entrance of the temple which is known for its 1,008 lamp holders. During festive occasions these lamps are lighted which gives spectacular sight to this place. Pillars of this structure are known for their carvings which depict the stories related to Meenakshi’s birth and LordShiva’s Thiruvilayadals (miracles). These pillars are carved on various mythological themes which mesmerizes visitors.
Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam:
It is situated adjacent to the Astha Shakthi Mandapam which is known for its 110 pillars. These pillars are famous for their beautiful carvings based on various religious and non-religious themes. A figure of animal with a lion’s body and an elephant’s head called Yalli is extremely beautiful.
Porthamarai Kulam (Golden Lotus Tank):
This is the sacred lake situated inside the temple premises, in which devotees take bath. According to the Indian mythology it is believed that Indra bathed in this tank to wash away his sin, and then worshiped Lord Shiva with golden lotus flowers from the tank. It is surrounded by the corridor which is known for its beautiful sculptures based on various religious themes. The pillars on the northern side of this corridor are decorated with 24 poets of the Third Tamil Sangam.
Some of the other well known attractions of grand Dravidian style edifice are Oonjal Mandapam, Swami Sundareswarar Shrine, Kalyana Mandapam, Aayiram Kaal Mandapam or Thousand Pillar Hall and many more.