Madurai Meenakshi Temple

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Meenakshi Temple

The Meenakshi Temple, also known as Meenakshi Amman or Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple, is sited in the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India. The temple is bestowed to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It functions as the apex point of everyday life of the people of the city. Not only have the denizens of Tamil Nadu, but tourists from far and across flocked in to the city to pay a visit to the temple since years.

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The temple is supposed to be constructed in the 17th century. It is renowned worldwide for its brilliant architecture, carvings, designs and painting. It has got 12 gargantuan towers also called the Gopurams. The temple holds a great significance and has intricate references in old Tamil Literature. The inner sanctorum is over 3500 years old while the outer features are more or less 1500-2000 years aged. The shrine of the reigning deity, Lord Shiva, is in the form of Nataraja. It is situated at the heart of the complex. It is a dancing pose of Lord Shiva. Usually the posture is supposed to be left foot raised and right foot grounded; the uniqueness here is the right foot of Lord Shiva is lifted instead of the left foot. This is due to the request of King Rajasekara Pandya, a great dancer himself, who requested the Lord to do so in order to keep an equilibrium and comfort of balance. It is hemmed in a huge silver alter called Velli Ambalam. The idol of Meenakshi or Parvati is placed on the left side of the shrine of Shiva. There is also a massive shrine of Lord Ganesha, Mukuruny Vinayakar in the premises.

Another attraction of this temple is the thousand pillar hall or Aayiram Kaal Mandapam put up by Arya Natha Mudaliyar who was the Prime Minister of the first Nayaka of Madurai, the founder of 'Poligar System'. The hall hosts 985 outstanding pillars with gorgeous carvings. Some of the pillars produce different musical notes when struck. It has also an Art Museum inside it. The hall is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

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The most vital festival of the temple is the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam which is supposed to be the marriage ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi. The other important occasions when the temple witnesses thousands of devotees swarming in the temple premises are the times of Aadi (July 15 – Aug 17) and Thai (Jan 15 – Feb 15). Ther Thiruvizhah (Chariot festival) and Theppa Thiruvizhah (Float festival) are also two prominent festivals associated with the temple.

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