The Madurai Meenakshi Temple #WTFOW #writebravely

The Madurai Meenakshi Temple #WTFOW #writebravely

I visited the Meenakshi Amman temple of Madurai in April this year with my parents and sons.  I have still not recovered from the beauty of this magnificent temple town and its surroundings.  I feel,  I have not yet seen it all completely and plan to revisit the temple again.

This was a plan I made for close to a year ever since I saw a post from a fellow blogger.   My maternal grandfather had visited the temple in his youth and had asked my mother to visit it atleast once in her lifetime.  It is incredibly beautiful.  The pictures I took do absolutely no justice to the beauty of the place.

Tamil temple architecture is different from Kerala temple architecture.  The layouts are similar with an outer periphery,  an inner periphery and the sanctum sanctorum with the idol inside the inner periphery.  Everything is laid out as per the shastras with the idols placed as per directions.  Kerala temples are sombre, serious affairs with the stone walls left in its natural states,  minimal decorations,  quiet atmosphere inside the temple with the smell of sandalwood paste, flowers and coconuts.

But, when it comes to Tamil temples,  it is all about color and vibrance.  Most of the temples have gopurams or the tall towers at the entrance gates.  The more famous the temple,  higher the gopurams and more vivid the decorations on the gopurams.  It is colors everywhere from the gopurams to the sculptures inside, to the ceilings, the floorings,  the saris and traditional skirts of the devotees.

The Meenakshi Amman temple is made up of 14 gopurams ranging from 45-50 meters in height.  These gopurams were built by the Nayak ruler Vishwanath Nayakar in the 16th century when he rebuilt the temple.  But the temple has been in existence for over 2,500 years as per references mentioned in Tamil literature.  There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures inside the temple (Source : Wikipedia).  Every pillar, ever corner, steps have sculptures.  There is a museum inside the temple and many artwork is just strewn around with no labelling.  Do not miss the 1000 pillar mandapa made of stone pillars and so many sculptures that my mind is still boggling.

It was by chance that we had reached the temple during its annual 10 day festival called Meenakshi Tirukalyanam.  Meenakshi Amman is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati.  She marries Sundareshwar (Shiva incarnate) during this festival.  Together,  they rule over the Madurai kingdom and bring prosperity to the people.

So,  when we reached there,  the hotels were packed but we had our places reserved.  The temple was getting decked up for the impending marriage.  They put up pandals to shield against the scorching heat.  It was over 40 degrees there and difficult to walk over the stone floors. But, they had put carpets for people to walk on.  The interiors were decorated with lights.  Every ceiling highlighted.  Its famous Lotus pond were decorated with lights with props of Shiva and Parvati.  All the gopurams were illuminated.  We visited first in the morning and then again in the evening to look at the lights and take in the atmosphere.  We also saw the palanquins of Meenakshi Amman and Sundareshwar being brought into the temple.  The idols were beautiful, studded with stones.  Sundareswar came on his faithfull bull Nandi.  Surrounded by chants, hymns and the crowd,  it was an incredible experience.  It was difficult to get a picture and I decided to soak in the atmosphere and gave up on the picture.

Due to the festival,  the crowd was incredible.  But, everything was managed very well.  We queued up for 2 hours to get a darshan.  My old parents were also able to continue comfortably in the line.  There were fans,  places to sit and water kept at strategic locations for the people.  There is no jostling and pushing as I have seen in some of the other temples.

Did I tell you,  the air was filled with the fragrance of Jasmine?  There was jasmine in the decorations,  in the hair of all devotees as gajras,  the flower sellers surrounding the temple.  It was also the season for jasmine flowers and the heady scent was everywhere.

Here is the aerial view of the temple with its gopurams sourced from Wikipedia.

Some images I took of the gopurams and the festivities.  This is surely not the last post on the temple.

Some images I took

West Tower

West Tower

The entrance to the West Tower. Here the sculptures are mostly related to the wedding of Meenakshi Amman and Sundareshwar.

West Tower

West Tower

More details on the West tower. Notice Sundareshwar on his favourite Nandi bull.

The Wedding

The Wedding

Vishnu is doing kanyadan for his sister Meenakshi Amman to Sundareshwar.

Inner Gopuram

Inner Gopuram

This was one of the Gopurams on the inside. They become smaller in height as we go closer the idol inside the temple.

More illumination

More illumination

More illumination inside the temple near the lotus pond.

Lotus pond

Lotus pond

Illumination surrounding the lotus pond. Notice the people sitting on the steps to get idea of the scale.

Ceilings Illuminated

Ceilings Illuminated

All ceilings were illuminated. The lights were still being put up when we visited.

South Tower

South Tower

South tower with more details. Here, it looks like the guests at the wedding with many sculptures of gods, godesses, saints, goblins.



 

‘I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6‘.  Today’s prompt is to Feature a map and write about a place either real or virtual

20 thoughts on “The Madurai Meenakshi Temple #WTFOW #writebravely

  1. I love Madural Meenakshi Amman Temple. It’s a master piece of perfect architecture and beautiful sculptures. it’s one of the places one should never miss while travelling in Tamil Nadu. I am really proud about it.

    1. Pls suggest some more places to visit. I am planning on Thanjavur, rameshwaram when I visit Kerala next.

  2. I had visited Madurai Meenakshi temple in my childhood. I don’t remember how I felt and all, as I was just a kid who just accompanied her parents. You have given a well description on the complete set up, I felt as if I am walking there beside you. Well written, Lata.

  3. This is really fascinating. The photographs are incredible. Thank you for such an informative glimpse into this temple. I truly enjoyed it.

  4. I have read a lot about the amazing and intricate architecture of temples in South India, especially the gopurams.
    Havent been to any temple as yet. Wonderful clicks, Lata!

  5. As much as I’m not religious, I’ll admit the architecture of these temples is amazing!

  6. What a lovely post. 2 of my favorites, south and temples come together.. And your description is lyrical.
    One of my favorites is to visit temples wherever i travel, and TN is beautiful for its temples every few kms even on the highway and interiors.

    1. Thank you.. I loved the compliment. TN is full of temples. I saw too many on my 3 day visit there. And it is still such a small part. I need to do a Discover TN.

  7. I visited Meenakshi temple when I was around 9 years old..yet I still remember the place..not much have changed..great captures Lata.

  8. Strange this too is one of my must visit temples in the world . I had such a feeling of contentment when I visited the Thiruvananthapuram temple i.y next visit is the temple at Mylapore. Unfortunately I didn’t feel so blessed when I went to Tirupathi . Perhaps it was the crowds

    1. I didn’t know you love visiting temples. Did you visit the Padmanabhapuram Temple? I think compared to the Tamil Nadu temples, this one is quite subdued. The gopuram is a plain cream color. We cannot make out the details. I have not visited Tirupathi. The crowds put me off. I am planning to visit Thanjavur and Thiruvanallur. But first, this weekend is for Mookambika temple. Surely visit Madurai. You will need 2 days to visit the temple and the surrounding temples. I plan to visit again.

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