Meenakshi Amman is a historic temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati (Meenakshi) and her husband Shiva (Sundareswarar). The term “Meenakshi” means the fish eyed God and “Sundareswarar” means the beautiful lord. The temple is the heart of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai and has been covered significantly in Tamil literature.
The temple was built in the 6th century BC by survivors of Kumari Kandam. However, the entire credit for the splendid looks of the current temple goes to the Nayaks who ruled Madurai from 16th to 18th century and left a majestic imprint in the form of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.
As per mythology, Lord Sundareswar appeared on the earth to marry Goddess Meenakshi, incarnation of Parvati. The temple was founded by Indra (King of celestial deities) while he was on a pilgrimage to atone his misdeeds.
At Madurai he saw a swayambu lingam (symbol of Shiva in the form of a phallus having appeared on its own). The miracle led to his constructing the Meenakshi temple.
However the modern version of the temple could be traced to as early as 7th century, as stated by Thirugnana Sambandar,
the famous Hindu saint of Saiva philosophy. Malik Kafur, an infamous Muslim invader is said to have sacked the temple in 1310, destroying the ancient elements.
Vishwanatha Nayak, the first Nayak king took the initiative to rebuild the temple in 1600s under the supervision of Ariyantha Mudaliar, the then prime minister of the Nayak dynasty and founder of the Poligar system.
There are 14 temple gateway towers also known as Rajagopurams, the tallest of which is the famous Southern tower rising to over 170 feet (52 m) built in 1559. The Eastern tower is the oldest, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandian during 1216 – 1238. Each gopuram (tower) is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figurines of animals, gods, and demons painted in bright hues. The outer gopuram is a pyramidal tower with plastic figurines while the inner is the entrance to Sundareswarar shrine.
Temple Structure & Layout
Meenakshi Temple is one of the few temples to have entrances in all four directions. It is the geographic and ritual centre of the ancient city of Madurai and one of the largest temple complexes in Tamil Nadu. The temple complex is divided into several enclosures contained by high masonry walls. Vishwanatha Nayaka allegedly redesigned the city of Madurai according to the principles of Shilpa Shastras which are relevant to urban planning.
The temple first built in the 6th century BC is an architecture marvel. Temples that were built traditionally thousands of years ago have been blessed by God and merely spending some time in such places will reduce all the problems and burdens of people. Vaastu energy is always there with you at such a holy place. Temple like these, have soul connections with humans. That’s why a person would repeatedly be attracted by the same energy that brought them the first time. Magnetic energy has related to this temple.
“The Indian way of life provides the vision of the natural, real way of life. We veil ourselves with unnatural masks. On the face of India are the tender expressions which carry the mark of the Creators hand.” – George Bernard Shaw, Famous British Author.
There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple and a hall with a thousand carved pillars. It is not only a geometric marvel but also a Vaastu marvel. Temples used to be the medium through which one generation taught the next and so on. Stapathi who was originally an architect would look after all the architecture on the Earth requested the Kings to make such temples.