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Meenakshi Amman temple

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Meenakshi Sundereshwara Temple


or Meenakshi Amman Temple
Tamil: மமமமமமமம மமமமமம
மமமமமமம

Meenakshi Sundereshwara
Temple or Meenakshi
Name: Amman Temple Tamil:
மீனாட்சி அம்மன்
ோகாவில்

Date built: Unknown


Goddess Meenakshi
Primary deity:
(Parvati)
Architecture: Dravidian architecture
Location: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple Tamil: மீனாட்சி அம்மன்


ோகாவில் is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is
dedicated to Lord Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord) and his consort, Goddess
Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi). The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of
Madurai. The complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams
for the main deities, that are elaborately sculptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for
the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present
structure is believed to have been built in 1600[1]. The tallest temple tower is 51.9 metres (170 ft)
high[1].

Contents
[hide]

• 1 History
o 1.1 Hindu Belief
o 1.2 Modern History
• 2 The temple structure
o 2.1 Shrines
 2.1.1 Velli Ambalam
o 2.2 The lake Porthamarai
o 2.3 Thousand Pillar Hall
o 2.4 Ashta Shakthi Mandapam
• 3 Temple Tower Details
• 4 Festivals
• 5 Current Status
• 6 See also
• 7 References

• 8 External links

[edit] History
[edit] Hindu Belief

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

Meenakshi deity at the temple


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 from Thirupparankundram [Pavalaakanivaai Perumal].
This is celebrated annually as 'Chitirai Thiruvizha' in Madurai. During the period of Nayakar rule in
Madurai, the then ruler Thirumalai Nayakar linked the 'Azhakar Thiruvizha' and the 'Meenakshi
Wedding'. Hence born the 'Azhaghar Thiruvizha' or 'Chithirai Thiruvizha'.

[edit] Modern History

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.

[edit] The temple structure

The West Gopuram


The East GopuramThe South Gopuram The North Gopuram

Inside the Temple The entrance to the Amman ShrineInside the Temple From the Outer Prakaram

Temple Tank
One of the Temple entrance
The temple is the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai. The temple walls, streets
and finally the city walls (ancient) were built around the temple in concentric squares. Ancient Tamil
classics mention that the temple was the center of the city and the streets happened to be radiating out
like the lotus and its petals. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing
four directions.

The complex is in around 45 acres (180,000 m2) and the temple is a massive structure measuring 254
by 237 meters. The temple is surrounded by 12 towers, the tallest of which, the famous Southern
tower, rises to over 170 ft (52 m) high.[2]

Shrines

This temple is a complex of many deities. The Shiva shrine lies at the centre of the complex,
suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Outside the Shrine, lies huge
scultpture of Lord Ganesh carved of single stone and there is a shrine for a giant Ganesh temple, called
the Mukuruny Vinayakar. This idol is believed to have been found during an excavation process to
dig the temple lake. The Meenkashi shrine is on the left of the Shiva shrine and is of sculpturally less
valuable than the Shiva shrine.

[edit] Velli Ambalam


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This is one of the five royal courts (Shabai or Shabha) of lord Shiva velli (Tamil)= Silver Ambalam
(Tamil)= Stage or altar. This Shiva shrine also consists of an unusual sculpture of the Hindu god
Nataraja. This massive Nataraja sculpture is enclosed in a huge silver altar and hence called Velli
Ambalam (Silver abode). Famous Hindu marquee and a dancing form of Shiva that normally has his
left foot raised, has his right foot raised in this temple. According to the purana, this is on the request
of the Rajasekara Pandya king a sincere devotee of the lord. Asked the Lord to change his position, as
he felt that always keeping a single foot raised will pose enormous stress on that, based on his personal
experiments in dancing.

Other four courts of Lord Shiva in Tamil Nadu:

Shaba(court Deity made


Place
) of

Pon Ambalam Chidambara


Gold
m
Porshabhai
Chitra Courtallam or Fresco
Shabhai picutre
Kutrallam
Thamira
Thirnelveli copper
Shabhai

Rathna Thiruvaalang
Gems
Shabhai adu

[edit] The lake Porthamarai

Deity of Lord ShivaThe Porthamarai KulamThe Porthamarai KulamThe Porthamarai Kulam

Porthamarai Kulam, the sacred pond inside the temple, is a very holy site for devotees. People go
around the 165 ft (50 m) by 120 ft (37 m)[3] lake before entering the main shrine. The name means the
Pond with the Golden Lotus, and the lotus that grows in it has a golden color. According to legend,
Lord Shiva promised a stork that no fish or other marine life would grow here and thus no marine
animals are found in the lake.[4] In the Tamil legends, the lake is supposed to be a judge for judging a
worth of a new literature. Thus, authors place their works here and the poorly written works are
supposed to sink and the scholastic ones are supposed to float.[3][5]

[edit] Thousand Pillar Hall


A section of the Thousand Pillar Hall in the morning.

Thousand Pillar hall of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple was built with the oldest Nellaiappar
Temple, Tirunleveli[6] as a model. The Aayiram Kaal Mandapam or Thousand Pillar Hall contains
985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars. It is considered culturally important and is maintained by the
Archaeological Survey of India. The Thousand Pillared Hall was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar in
1569[7]. He was the Prime Minister and General of Viswanatha Nayak of the first Nayaka of Madurai
(1559-1600 A.D.). He was also the founder of Poligar System, the quasi-feudal organization of the
country, which was divided into multiple palayams or small provinces and each palayam was ruled by
a palayakkarar or a petty chief[8]. At the entrance of the Mandapam, we can still see his statue; the
majestic pose of Ariyanatha Mudaliar seated on a beautiful horse-back which flanks one side of the
entrance to the temple. The statue is still periodically crowned with garlands by modern worshippers[7].
Each pillar is carved and is a monument of the Dravidian sculpture. There is a Temple Art Museum in
the hall where icons, photographs, drawings, and other exhibits of the 1200 years old history are
displayed. Just outside this mandapam, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when
struck, produces a different musical note. The kalyana mandapa, to the south of the pillared hall, is
where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated every year during the Chithirai Festival in mid-
April.

[edit] Ashta Shakthi Mandapam

This is the first hall in the entrance of Meenakshi shrine tower near to East Tower. The hall carry the
statues of eight goddesses and hence the name. At present we could find many shops selling pooja
items in this hall.

[edit] Temple Tower Details


[edit] Festivals
The most important festival associated with the temple is the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam (The divine
marriage of Meenkashi) that is celebrated in April every year. During that one month period, in which
most Tamil Nadu temples celebrate their annual festivals, there are a number of events including the
Ther Thiruvizhah (Chariot festival) and Thoppa Thiruvizhah (Float festival) are celebrated. Apart
from this, major Hindu festivals like Navrathri, Shivrathri are celebrated in a grand manner. Like most
Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July 15 - Aug 17) and
Thai (Jan 15 to Feb 15) are popularly celebrated with thousands of devotees thronging to the temple. In
every Tamil month some festive occasions will happen in the temple like Aavani Urchavam,
Maarghazi Urchavam, Navaraathri, etc. Like Meenakshi Thirukalyanam Festival, Avani Moola
Utsavam is also the major important festival in Meenakshi Amman Temple. This is a 10-day festival
mainly devoted to Lord Sundareswarar which describes His various leelai a.k.a. Thiruvilayadal
performed in Madurai city to save His devotees from distractions and problems.[9]

[edit] Current Status


The towers of the temple were covered in scaffolding for repainting till March 2009. The work was
completed early April 2009 by numerous Temple craftsmen who abstained from a number of vices to
be eligible to undertake the work. Also most of the archaeological retrieval work on the paintings,
walls, scriptures, statues inside the temple were completed on a war-footing. The Temple adorns a very
fresh look now.

The temple consecration (Kumbabishekam) took place on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 between 9:00 am
and 9:45 am by 300 Sivachariars in a grand fashion[10][11]. Also you can watch out the video clipping of
the world's famous Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple Kumbabishekam here.[12]

[edit] See also


• Annamalaiyar Temple
• Kalahasti temple
• Ekambareswarar Temple
• Chidambaram Temple
• Thiruvanaikaval Temple
• Nellaiappar Temple

[edit] References
1. ^ a b SkyscraperPage - Meenakshi AmmanTemple
2. ^ "Madurai.com - The meenakshi temple". http://www.madurai.com/meena.htm.
3. ^ a b "MAKING OF THE MAGNIFICENT TEMPLE DEDICATED TO MEENAKSHI
SUNDERESWARAR". http://www.pradosham.com/meena1.php.
4. ^ "Temple theertham". http://www.maduraimeenakshi.org/templenew.php?
link=theertham.
5. ^ "Sanga Thamizh".
http://www.digitalmadurai.com/madurai/history/sanga_thamizh.htm.
6. ^ "Tirunleveli Nellaiappar Temple".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nellaiappar_Temple.
7. ^ a b History&Description of Sri Meenakshi Temple: By T. G. S. Balaram Iyer, T. R.
Rajagopalan - Meenakshi Temple - 1977 - 42 pages
8. ^ Saints, Goddesses and Kings By Susan Bayly
9. ^ "Avani Moola Utsavam History and Festival Details".
http://maduraimeenakshitempleforu.blogspot.com/2008/08/aavani-moola-
festival.html.
10.^ Madurai Kumbabhishekam Photos by TripsGuru, April 8th, 2009
11.^ http://travel.webshots.com/album/570875698ACevpL
12.^ "Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple Kumbabishekam Video Clipping".
http://maduraimeenakshitempleforu.blogspot.com/2009/09/meenakshi-temple-
kumbabhishekam-video.html.

[edit] External links


Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Madurai
Meenakshi temple

• Official site
• About.com article
• Dravidian Temple Architecture - Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
• Read Useful Details about Meenakshi Temple
• Indhistory page
• Blog about Madurai and Meenakshi Amman Temple

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Coordinates: 9°55′10″N 78°07′10″E / 9.91944°N 78.11944°E

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