Meenakshi Temple Tour

Meenakshi Temple Tour

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Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

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Tour Information & Highlights
The world famous Meenakshi Temple is situated in Madurai, one of the oldest city of Tamil Nadu. The magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Meenakshi, is the perfect example of Dravidian architecture. The temple complex encircles the statues, which reflects the whole range of human emotions.

The temple complex covers an area of 6 hectare and houses the structures date back to the 12th to the18th century. Originally the temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the real credit for making the temple goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks, who ruled over Madurai between the 16th to the 18th century, left a magnificent impression of their rule in the Meenakshi Temple.
Meenakshi Temple Architecture
The temple complex is enclosed within a high wall, the two sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara stands in the centre. These sanctums are surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls.

The 12 gopurams (towers) of the temple are highly impressive. The high towers rise from solid granite bases are carved with images of gods and goddesses, mythological figures and depictions of legendary stories. The temple tower shave been divided into East, West, South and North.

East Tower - The 161 feet 3 inch, high tower isnine storeyed and has 1011 Sudhai figures.

West Tower - The 163 feet 3 inch, high tower is nine storeyed carved with 1124 Sudhai figures.

South Tower - The 170 feet 3 inch, high tower has nine storeys with 1511 Sudhai figures.

North Tower - The 160 feet 6 inch high, nine storeyed tower has Sudhai figures than other towers.
Attractions of Meenakshi Temple
Gopura - The Gopuras (Pramidal gates) exceedsmore than 50 meter in height. These high gateways are the entrance to the temple complex, at four cardinal points. While the lower gopuras lead to the sanctums of the main gods and goddesses.

Ashta Shakthi Mandapam - The Mandapam (Hall) stands at the beginning of eastern gateway. The Mandapam was built by Thirumalai Nayakar's wives, Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholimamai.

Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam - This spacious hallis located adjacent to Ashta Shakthi Mandapam, used for shops and stores.The hall has 110 pillars, which are carved with the images of a peculiar animal. The sculptures on the pillars are related to some of Lord Shiva's Thiruvilayadals (miracles) and also the story of Meenakshi's birth and her life as the princess of Madurai. The dedicated lamp-holder inside the hall has 1,008 lamps, which are lit on festivals.

Potramariakulam (Golden Lotus Tank ) - The Potramariakulam tank is an ancient tank, where devotees take bath. It is said that the area around the tank was the meeting place of the Tamil Sangam- the ancient academy of Tamil poets. The pillared corridor surroundthe tank, while the steps lead down to the tank, enabling worshippers to take bathe in it.

Oonjal Mandapam - The Oonjal (Swing) Mandapam is situated on the western side of the Potramariakulam tank. The 28 pillars of the mandapam, exhibit interesting sculptures of images from Hindu mythology.

Swami Sundareswarar Shrine - Swami Sundareswarar Shrine is situated to the north of Kilikoontu Mandapam. In the corridoroutside the main shrine, there is a stump of the Kadamba tree. The Kadambathadi Mandapam and a big hall called as Velli Ambalam (Silver Hall), are also situated in the outer corridor. An idol of Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance) covered with silver leaves can be seen here.
The Thousand Pillar Mandapam, Meenakshi Temple
In this Mandapam there are 985 beautifully decorated columns. The monument of the Dravidanart houses a Temple Art Museum, where you can see idols, photographs, drawings, etc
Vasantha Mandapam (Pudhu Mandapam), Meenakshi Temple
Built by Thirumalai Nayakkar the mandapam is famous for Vasanthosavam - the Spring festival, celebrated in Vaikasi (April-May). The pillars of the mandapam contain interesting sculptures of Shiva, Meenakshi, scenes from their wedding as well as the images of ten of the Nayak Kings and their consorts.
Kilikatti Mandapas, Meenakshi Temple
The mandapa was built in1623 and derives its name from the fact that there are parrots in a cage here. On the walls of the mandapa, there are carvings of the divine sports.
Meenakshi Kalyanam Festival, Meenakshi Temple
Meenakshi Kalyanam is one of the most interesting temple festivals at Meenakshi Temple. In Meenakshi Kalyanam, the marriage festival of Lord Sundareshwar and Goddess Meenakshi is celebrated, for twelve days that starts from the second day of lunar month. This festival is celebrated annually in the month of April- May.
Famous Excursions from Meenakshi Temple
Mariamman Teppakulam
The tank is located at a distance of 5 km in the east of Meenakshi temple. It has an idol of Vinayakaor Vigneshwara stands on a plat form in the centre.

Tirumalai Nayak Mahal
The palace of Tirumalai Nayak lies around 1 km from the Meenakshi temple. Built in 1523 the place is an example of Indo- Sarcenic buildings and also presents the architectural style of the Nayaks.

The Gandhi Museum
The museum is located at the old palace of Rani Mangammal. The museum has a historical account of India's struggle for freedom.

Situated at a distance of 8 Kms, south of Madurai, the temple has Pandyan rock- cut shrines of the 8th century. A wide range of images of Hindu gods carved on the walls can be seen here.
Accommodation in Madurai
To visit the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai the best place to stay are hotels across Madurai city. There are several hotels ranging from 5 star to budget hotel. The well equipped hotels offer a pleasant stay to guests.

Famous hotels of Madurai are Taj Garden Retreat (5 Star), GRT Residency (3 Star), Hotel Germanus (3Star), Hotel Sangam (3 Star), Hotel International, Hotel Supreme and Hotel MR International etc.
Best Time to Visit Meenakshi Temple
The temples can be visited almost any time through the year. But the temperature in summer remains high while the winters are some what cold. Sothe best time to visit the temple is between October to March. If one wants to enjoy the festivals of Meenakshi temple then he may visit in April - May.
How to reach Meenakshi Temple?
As the Meenakshi Temple is located in Madurai, so it is easily accessible from all parts of the country. Madurai is well- connected by Air, Rail and Road with major cities if the country.

By Air - Madurai airport is 10 Kms from the city andis connected by air with Mumbai and Chennai.

By Rail - Madurai railway station has direct connections with Bangalore (385 Kms), Coimbatore (227 Kms), Cape Comorin (235 Kms), Chennai (444 Kms), Rameshwaram (152 Kms), Thanjavur (158 Kms) and Tiruchirappalli (142 Kms).

By Road - Madurai is connected with good motorable roads with all parts of South India.
The distance of important towns from Madurai are Bangalore (385 Kms), Chennai (444 Kms), Coimbatore (227 Kms), Cape Comorin (235 Kms), Kodaikanal(120 Kms), Periyar (160 Kms), Ooty (325 Kms), Rameshwaram (152 Kms), Tanjore (158 Kms), Trichy (142 Kms) and Trivandrum (264).
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