Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple Tour
Sri Meenakshi temple is situated in thheart of the city of Madurai covering an area of 17 acres, the entire city being built around it. The temple which has five entrances covers an area 847 feet long and 792 feet wide. This is a twin temple. The temple in the southern side is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi and the other to Lord Sundareswarar.
Origin of the Temple
The sacred Swayambu Lingam (self manifested) discovered by the king of Gods ‘Indra’ at Kadambavanam, was later enshrined by him in Madurai. Many years ago, what is the present city of Madurai was a forest of Kadamba trees. Once The King of Devas Indra, carried the sin of Brahmahathi. To rid himself of the sin, he undertook a pilgrimage and did penance. When he came to this kadamba forest he found a Swayambu Lingam beneath a Kadamba tree. He did severe penance and felt himself purified. He worshipped the deity with golden lotus flowers from a tank nearby, built a tower over the sanctum, and returned to Indraloka. The Devas started worshipping the Linga since then.
Later a merchant by name Dhananjayan, who happened to stay for a night near this shrine, noticed pujas being performed. He informed king Kulasekara Pandyan who ruled in Manavoor, about this incident. Lord Siva, with honey dripping from his matted locks, appeared in the King’s dream, gave him darshan and asked him to built a shrine there. The king came to the forest and worshipped the Lord. It was he who built the proper temple and the city of Madurai that became the famous capital of the Pandyas.
After King Kulasekara Pandyan, Malayadwaja Pandyan succeeds to the throne. As he had no children, he and his wife Kanchanamala performed a yagna to get a child. They were pleasantly surprised to see a girl emerge from the holy fire. The child had three breasts. A divine voice consoled them telling that her third breast would disappear when she meets her husband. They named her Thadathagai and she was none other than Devi Parvathi incarnate. The child, Thadathagai, was brought up like a prince and she mastered all arts of war.
Thadathagai succeeded the king and conquered the neighbouring countries and reached Kailas itself, the abode of Lord Siva. But on the battle field when her eyes met the gaza of Siva, he third breast disappeared. She realised she had met her Lord. Lord Siva came to Madurai, married Thadathagai and they ruled Madurai for a time. Then, after, making their son Ugra Pandyan an incarnation of Lord Subramanya as the king, they assumed the divine forms, as Sundaraeswarar and Meenakshi.
Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple History
Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple has become the greatest attraction for every tourist who visits the South. Such beautiful temple’s origin goes back o legendary times. Only a shrine of Siva existed in the 7th century AD. The shrine of Meenakshi was built during the reign of King Chadayavarman Sundara Pandyan, in the 12th century AD.
The temple was almost completely destroyed in the year 1310 following the invasion of the Islamic conqueror Malikkapur. As kings who were followers of Islam were noted for their intolerance towards other religions, the invaders destroyed most of the ancient sculptures of the temple. The temple was restored to its pristine glory in the late 14th century when the Hindu Kings came back to power in Madurai. This can also termed as a new beginning of a new era in the history of the temple, when it was almost rebuilt.
The reign of the Naickka rulers for 200 years saw the construction of many mandapams and other additions like the Hall of Thousand Pillars, Ashta Sakthi mandapam, Puthu Mandapam, Vandiyoor huge tank, and Naickar Palace. The greater part of the temple, as it exists today was built between the 12thand 18th century. In 1877 renovation on a large scale was done by the Nagarathar. During this renovation many of the fine sculptures n the Kambathadi Mandapam was installed and the unfinished North Tower was completed.