Meenakshi Amman Temple Madurai is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai.
Meenakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar.
It is said that the Meenakshi Amman temple was actually built in the 6th century BC by survivors of the Kumari Kandam.
In 14th century, the Mughal Muslim Commander Malik Kafur plundered the temple and looted it of its valuables.
The Nayak ruler Vishwanatha Nayakar around the 16th century rebuilt it. It was Vishwanatha Nayak who rebuilt the temple in accordance to shilpa shastra.
The temple attracts 15,000 visitors a day, around 25,000 on Fridays, and receives an annual revenue of Rs. 60 million. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple.
The temple is the most prominent landmark and most visited tourist attraction in the city.
The annual 10-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, celebrated during April and May, attracts 1 million visitors.
The Meenakshi Amman temple is believed to have been founded by Indra (king of Deva celestial deities). While he was on a pilgrimage to atone for his misdeeds.
The temple is surrounded by gopurams gateway tower. There are 14 gopuram the tallest of which, the famous southern tower, the oldest gopuram is the eastern one, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan.
The Meenakshi shrine has the emerald-hued black stone image of Meenakshi. The Sundareswarar shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later.
Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam. The golden top can be seen from a great distance in the west through the apertures of two successive towers.
The area covered by the shrine of Sundareswarar is exactly one fourth of the area of the temple and that of Meenakshi is one fourth that of Sundareswarar.
The tall sculpture of Ganesh carved of single stone located outside the Sundareswarar shrine in the path from Meenashi shrine.
A distinct feature of Meenakshi in terms of iconography is the presence of parrot in her right hand. The parrot is generally associated with the Vaishnava azhwar saint Andal.
There are close to 50 priests in the temple who perform the puja during festivals and on a daily basis.
The priests live in a closed area north of the temple. The temple has a six time pooja calendar everyday.
The most important festival associated with the temple is the “Meenakshi Thirukalyanam” (the divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year.
Timings : The temple is usually open between 0500hrs and 1230hrs and again between 1600 hrs and 21.30 hrs.
How to Get There
The Temple is just 2Km from Madurai Junction Railway Station.
Madurai Junction is the major railway station serving the city. It is an important railway junction in southern Tamil Nadu and is one of the top 100 booking stations in Indian Railways.
Madurai Airport was established in 1957 and is located 12 kilometers from the city. It offers domestic flight services to some cities in India and international services to Colombo and Dubai.