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Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple stands as a live legend representing the Indian culture and tradition to the world.
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Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
 
The Madurai Meenakshi Temple is located just one kilometer from the bus stand in the city of Madurai. Meenakshi is the residing deity in the temple. Kulasekara Pandya was the king who was the one who constructed the temple. But it is said that the temple developed in the reign of the Nayaks. It was in the 16th to the 18th century when the temple was built to what is now called as the Meenakshi Amman Temple.
   
Today the towers of the number that number to about 12 are the landmarks in the city. They are the;

1. East Tower – The east tower has height of 161'3". There are about 1011 sudhai figures in the Gopura.
2. South Tower – The south tower has height of 170'6". There are about 1511 sudhai figures in the Gopura.
3. West Tower – The west tower height is 163'3" with about 1124 sudhai figures in the Gopura.
4. North Tower – The north tower height is 160'6" with less number of sudhai figures than the other towers.

potramai_kulam
Ashta Shakthi Mandapam
When you enter the temple from the eastern gate then you will enter into a mandapam that was built by the wives of Thirumalai Nayakar namely Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholimamai. In the early days, food was distributed to devotees who traveled from a very long distance. The Thiruvilayadals of Lord Shiva is being depicted in the sculptures in the mandapam. The birth of Meeenakshi and her life as a princess is also depicted.

There is also a story behind Meenakshi who ruled as the princess over Madurai. Malayadwaja Pandya was ruling over the place in the days but he was childless. As it worried the kind and his wife, they performed yagnas and prayed to God for a child. From the fire came a little girl who had three breasts. The king was very much worried about it but he then heard a voice which said that the third breast will disappear when she meets his consort. The princess learnt all the skills and turned into a very brave princess and she was the one who stood the first in the times of war. It was in the battle field of the Kailas that the princess lost her heart to Lord Shiva. Her third breast also disappeared and their wedding took place. She then realized that she was none other than Parvati, Shiva’s wife. From then they ruled over the city of Madurai as Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. The wedding of the Lord Shiva and Meenakshi takes place every year as a very grand festival and there is the procession of the Lord and Meenakshi for 9 days and the wedding takes place on the tenth day in the month of Chithrai.

Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam
Next to the Ashta Shakthi Mandapam is situated the Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam which is famous for the pillars within. There are about 110 pillars in the mandapam in which the Yalli which has the head of the elephant and the one with the lion’s body is the most special of them.
Potramaraukulam (Golden Lotus Tank)
The tank in the Meenakshi Amman Temple is known as the Potramaraukulam meaning the Golden Lotus Tank. In the earlier days devotees took bath in the tank. The poets of the Tamil Sangam met in the place that surrounds the tank. The judgement for the work of the people in the field of literature was done here. There are steps in all the sides of the tank which takes the devotees down to the tank.
Oonjal Mandapam
On the western side of the tank are situated the Oonjal and the Killikoontu mandapam. Meenakshi and Sundareswarar idols are made to swing in the mandapam every Friday. In the mandapam are situated about 28 pillars which has the sculptures of the Hindu mythology. There are parrots in the Kilikoontu Mandapam that utter the name of the Lord in the Meenakshi Amman Temple.
Meenakshi shrine
At joining the Onjal mandapam is situated the Meenakshi Shrine where in Goddess Meenakshi is placed. There is huge crowd to worship the Goddess on Friday which is believed to be the day to worship the Goddess. During the holiday season there are people thronging in the temple from all over the country and all the year round there are tourists from the foreign countries too.
Swami Sundareswarar Shrine
Lord Sundareswarar’s shrine is situated in the Northern side of the Kilikoontu Mandapam. There is the idol of Lord Sri Ganesh called as the Mukkurini Pillaiyar. It is believed that the idol was found when the king Thirumalai Nayakar planned to built a tank about 3 kms from the temple. He found the idol and brought the same to the temple and erected it there.

The kadamba tree is present in the outer pragaram of the Lord Shiva’s shrine. There is a dancing posture of the Lord present in the Shrine called as the Velli Ambalam which is covered with Silver all over. This is the one of the idol of Nataraja which is called as the Velli Sabhai. There is many Sabhai’s present in the temples of Lord Shiva all over the state.
The Thousand Pillar Mandapam
The hall with 1000 pillars can be seen when one enters the temple from the eastern entrance. Today there are only 985 pillars in the hall. One will also be able to see the musical pillars in the temple. The tourist will able to see in front the history that covers about 1200 years in the form of icons, photographs and drawings and sculptures.
Vasanta Mandapam

Today Vasanta Mandapam is known as Pudhu Manadapam for the people in the city. There are various sculptures within that depict the wedding of the Lord and Meenakshi.



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