Monday, December 28, 2015

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of MaduraiTamil NaduIndia. It is dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai and is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature though the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655 CE
It houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers), ranging from 45–50m in height. The tallest is the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high and two golden sculptured vimanas, the shrines over the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of the main deities. The temple attracts 15,000 visitors a day, around 25,000 on Fridays, and receives annual revenue of ₹ 60 million. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple. It was on the list of top 30 nominees for the "New Seven Wonders of the World". The temple is the most prominent landmark and most visited tourist attraction in the city. The annual 10-day Meenakshi Thirukkalyanam festival, celebrated during April and May, attracts 1 million visitors.
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple (twin temples) is one of the biggest temples in India. The original temple built by Kulasekara Pandyan was in ruins. The plan for the current temple structure was laid by Viswanath Nayak and was completed by Thirumalai Nayakar. The Aadi, Chittirai and the Maasi, and Veli streets surround the temple. Both temples are adorned with exquisite carvings & sculptures and gold plated vimanams.
Sree Meenakshi Temple at Madurai is probably the most beautiful and widely recognized temple in the whole of South India. The main deity is Goddess Meenakshi and it is a ritual that anyone who wants to visit, must go through the entrance situated at the eastern side facing the deity. This is the 245th Devaram Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalam and 1st Sthalam in Pandya Naadu on the banks of river Vaigai. Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar and Manikkavasakar has sung hymns in praise of Lord Shiva of this Temple
The history here is tethered intricately with facts and myths. The origin of the temple dates back as far as 1600 BC. Though there are no definitive written details about the origin, the ancient scriptures sheds lights on the legends about the origin and growth. The shrine was not built as it is seen today. As the temple has stood tall for over 3500 years, this has been modified and developed by the rulers of the place from time to time blending their favorite style or architecture.
Meenakshi Amman Temple covering over 45 acres is the most important temple for worshippers of Lord Shiva in Madurai. Also known as Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, this temple is present in the heart of the temple city of Madurai. As the name indicates the temple is dedicated to Meenakshi Amman which is the other name of goddess Parvati, the consort of the God Shiva. Though the temple is very old, the current temple buildings are hardly 400 years old. The original structure had been destroyed during several invasions which had occurred and was repaired between 1623 and 1655.
Geographic Location
Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is located at 9°55'10.5"N 78°07'09.9"E or 9.919574, 78.119413.
Temple’s Speciality 
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Greatness of Temple    
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Legends
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History
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Temple – Architecture
The temple is the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai and one of the largest temple complexes in Tamil Nadu. The temple complex is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular enclosures contained by high masonry walls. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four directions. Vishwanatha Nayaka allegedly redesigned the city of Madurai in accordance with the principles laid down by Shilpa Shastras (rules of architecture) relevant to urban planning.
The city was laid out in the shape of square with a series of concentric streets culminating from the temple. These squares continue to retain their traditional names, Aadi, Chittirai, Avani-moola and Masi streets, corresponding to Tamil month names. Ancient Tamil classics mention that the temple was the center of the city and the streets happened to be radiating out like lotus and its petals. The temple prakarams (outer precincts of a temple) and streets accommodate an elaborate festival calendar in which dramatic processions circumambulate the shrines at varying distances from the centre. The vehicles used in processions are progressively more massive the further they travel from the centre. The complex is in around 45 acres (180,000 m2).
At the core of the temple complex are the two sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareswarar, surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. Meenakshi (the “Fish-eyed Goddess”) has a temple to the south, and Shiva, known here as Sundareswarar (the “Handsome God”), a temple to the west. Since she is the presiding deity the daily ceremonies are first performed in her shrine and, unlike the practice at other temples, Sundareswarar plays a secondary role.
It’s not so much a temple as a 6-hectare complex enclosed by 14 gopurams (gateway towers), all of which are carved with a staggering array of gods, goddesses, demons and heroes. The oldest gopuram is the eastern one, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan during 1216-1238; the highest is the southern tower which towers 52m over Madurai. Their soaring multi-storeyed towers rise from solid granite bases, and are covered with colourful stucco figures of gods, goddesses, mythical animals and monsters which are renewed and painted every 12 years – the most recent touch-up having been completed in February 2009.
There are about 4000 granite sculptures on the lower levels. In addition to the Golden Lotus tank and various pillared halls there are five vimanas over the sanctuaries. There are two golden sculptured vimanas, the shrines over the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of the main deities.
The most stunning of these is perhaps the hall of thousand pillars called Meenakshi Nayakkar mandapam. But unlike the name, it has 985 pillars to be exact. It depicts the insignia of the Nayak Kingdom, a creature having a lion’s frame and an elephant’s head. The hall also has many more exquisite sculptures in it. There is also an area with musical pillars; each when struck is engineered to produce different notes of music.
This temple ranks among the five most important (Pancha Sabhai or Pancha Bhoota Stalam) Nataraja shrines in Tamil Nadu. The deity of Shiva at the Meenakshi Amman Temple is made of silver. The unique feature of this statue is that unlike in the other temples in which the left leg raised in dance pose, this particular statue has its right leg in the dance pose presented by Lord Shiva.
Apart from these architectural splendours the temple also possesses over 33,000 stunning sculptures. Most of them can be found on the gopurams. These depict gods, demons and various kinds of animals mentioned in the epics. There is also a huge monolithic figurine of the divine couple’s child, Ganesh. The new hall or Puthu Mandapam opposite the eastern gopuram houses many more statues built under by Thirumalai Nayak.  The outer gopurams have plaster figurines. These figures are adorned in bright colors and look very attractive to the visitors. The temple tank here measures 50 * 37m and is called as the tank of the Golden Lotus or Porthamarai Kulam. This pond literally has a lotus made of gold at its centre and no marine creatures are present in this temple pond.
There is also a small portico flanking the tank. It showcases paintings from the Nayak periods back in the 17th and 18thcenturies. The most elaborate among them depicts the wedding of the divine couple etched on a flamboyant red backdrop of a flowering tree, delicately lined in white, green and yellow ochre.
Gopurams:
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Shrines:
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Holy Tanks:
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Halls:
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Hall of Thousand Pillars:
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Musical Pillars:
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Other Interesting Features:
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Temple Museum
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Paintings
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Inscriptions
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Temple Plan
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Literary Mention
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Religious Significance
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Worship & Rituals
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Procedure for Worship
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Pooja Timings
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Prayers
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Festivals
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Temple Rules
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Social Services
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Administration
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Temple Pictures
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Connectivity
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1 comment:

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