Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
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.
Golden Lotus Tank
This beautiful tank is situated within the temple complex. This holy water was creted by Lord Siva by thrusting his “Soolam” (Three tonged spear) into the earth in deference to the plea of Nandhi Devar and other deities. It is believed that the king of Devas Indra worshiped Lord Shiva with Golden Lotus Flowers from tank. The tank is surrounded by spacious corridors. Scenes from Thiruvilaiyadal Puranams are painted on the wall of the northern corridors and on the wall of the northern corridors and on the wall of the southern corridors verses from the ancient famed Tamil devotional poems and Thirukkural have been inscribed on marbles slabs. On the pillars of northern corridors are figures of 24 poets of the Third Tamil Sangam (Period), the merchant Dhanajeyan who saw the temple at first and then King Kulasekhara Pandiyan who first built the temple. On the south west of this tank we can see the Viputhi Ganesh.
The Golden Lotus Tank within the precincts of this temple is the place where the sangam or the Tamil literary society used to meet to decide the merit of the works presented to them.
Sri Meenakshi Shrine
After seeing the Golden Lotus tank we crossed the Vembathoor tower and enter in outer Praharam of Meenakshi Shrine. In this Praharam the Golden Flag Staff, Thirumalai Vinayak, King Thirumalai Naick Mandapam, Golu Mandapam, Koodal Kumarar are seen. Completing this Praharam we returns to the Flag Staff and enter into the temple on theway of Aarukal Peedam (Pedestal with six pillars). During the Chitra festival the coronation of Devi Meenakshi is performed here every year. In the entrance of the Maha Mandapam or inner Praharam we saw two beautiful copper images of Dwargabalas. In this Maha Mandapam Irrattai Vinayakar, Muthu Kumarar and Palliyarai (Holy-Bedroom) are seen to the west and nearby there are the Artha mandapam and the Sanctum Sanctorum. We worshiped Sri Meenakshi who stands with a parrot and a bouquet, radiating love and compassion. The sub line grace of the divine holy mother and her infinite mercy are beyond words. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the Meenakshi shrine.
Swami Sundareswarar Shrine
The entrance of the Sundareswarar shrine there are two Dwaragabalas each 12 feet height. In the first praharam we can see the Aarukal Peedam (pedestal of with six pillars). In this peedam Thiruvilayadal Puranam (miracles of Lord Siva) of Paranjothi Munivar was inaugurated. Two copper images of Dwaragabalas stand here. Going through the way of Aarukal Peedam we enter the Maha Mandapam we can see Sri Nataraj in Velli Ambalam and 63 copper images of Nayanmaras (Siva Saints). Here Sri Nataraj has its right leg raised. The Sanctum Sanctorum is known as Indra Vimanam. And it was supported by sixty four “Bhootha ganas” thirty two Lions and eight Elephants. On this Indra Vimanam stands Lord Sundareswarar in form of Lingam. The Lingam which was so many names like Chokkanathar, Karpoora Chokkar inspirer a deep devotion. Non Hindus are not allowed inside the Sundareswarar shrine.
In this mandapam contain Golden flag Staff Nandhi Mandapam, Bali peedam and eight stone pillars with carving images of Lord in his various forms. The famous sculpture of Devi Meenakshi Wedding is striking illustration of the excellence of South Indian Art. This mandapam was built by Krishna Veerappa Nayakker in 1564 AD., and renovated the Nagarathars in 1977AD, with these statues.
Thousand Pillared Hall
This famous thousand pillared hall is eastern side of Kambathadi Mandapam. It was built by Dalavai Ariyanatha Mudaliyar in 1569 AD who built this treasure house of art. Now this hall actually contains 985 pillars only. These spaces for the remaining 15 pillars were taken up for two small temples. As we enter the chakram carved on the ceiling denoting the 60 Tamil years is astonishing. The arrangement of the pillars is a treat to the eye from any angle. The images of Narthana (dancing) Ganesh, Shiva, Radi, Manmatha, Arjuna, Bhima, Chandramathi, Saraswathi, Mohini, Bitchadanar are magnificent carvings. A beautiful image of Natraj and Sivakami are installed in a mandapam at the farthest end of the hall.
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