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Meenakshi Temple - Wonders of Incredible India

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Meenakshi Amman Temple is an ancient and one amongst the most important temples of India. Located in the holy city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi Temple can be reached easily by the means of local transport from Madurai. The city comprises its own domestic airport that is connected with all the major cities of India. Renowned for its astonishing architecture, Meenakshi Amman Temple has been nominated for the new Seven Wonders of the World. Hundreds and thousands of devotees come every year to pay their obeisance of the Lord.

Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple is dedicated to Sundareswar (form of Lord Shiva) and Meenakshi (form of Goddess Parvati). The term "Sundareswar" suggests "the beautiful lord" and "Meenakshi" means "the fish-eyed goddess". As per the Hindu folklore, Madurai is the same city where Lord Sundareswar (Shiva) appeared to marry Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati).

Special Features of the Temple

Swami Sundareswarar Shrine
The Shrine of Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva) the consort of Goddess Meenakshi is to the north of Kilikoontu Mandapam . There's a gigantic idol of Sri Ganesh called Mukkurini Pillaiyar on the way. There's a stump of a Kadamba tree, in the outer pragaram (corridor outside the main shrine), which is said to be a part of the same tree under which Indra worshiped Shiva linga. There's also Kadambathadi Mandapam in the outer corridor and big hall called 'Velli Ambalam'. There's also an idol of Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance), covered with silver leaves. Thus this hall is named as Velli Ambalam (Silver Hall).

Ashta Sakthi Mandapa
It is a convention in this temple, different from that followed in others, that the devotee offers worship first to Goddess Meenakshi. Therefore, while there are four other entrances into the temple, under huge Gopuras in the four cardinal directions, it is customary to enter not through any of them but through a Mandapa, with no tower above it. This entrance leads directly to the shrine of the Goddess. This Mandapa is an impressive structure, with a hemispherical ceiling. It is 14m long and 5.5m wide. There are bas-reliefs all over the place. Over the entrance one of them depicts the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Somasundara. The Mandapa derives its name, the "Ashta Sakthi", from the fact it contains sculptures of the eight Sakthis (also spelt as Shakti). Those of the four principal Nyanmars were added during renovation of the temple in 1960-63.

The Golden Lily Tank
The lovely and historic Golden Lily tank then comes into view. It is from its banks that most popular photographic views of the temple are taken, showing the gigantic south outer Gopura. The northern corridor leads directly to the shrine of the Goddess. On its pillars are the images of some of the Sangam poets, of Kulasekhara Pandya, the first builder of the temple, and of Dhananjaya, who figures in the traditional story of its origin. There is no fish in the tank. The corridors around the tank are rightly called the "Chitra Mandapa", for the walls carry paintings of the divine sports of the Lord, as narrated in the "Tiruvilayadal Puranam". They have been renewed from time to time. A short while ago there were paintings on wooden panels affixed over an older series. They have since been removed to the Temple Museum in the thousand-pillared Mandapa.

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