A view of the temple towers behind the Golden lotus pond of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
A view of the temple towers behind the Golden lotus pond of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

The world famous Meenakshi Amman Temple is located in the ancient city ‘Madurai’, also called as ‘Temple City’ of Tamilnadu state in India. The principal deity of this temple is Goddess ‘Meenakshi Amman’, also known as ‘Goddess Parvathi’ (or) ‘Goddess Shakthi’. Here ‘Lord Shiva’ is named by ‘Lord Sundareswarar’. So, this temple is also called by ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple’. It is believed by Hindus that Lord Indira, the king of Devas discovered a ‘Swayambu Lingam’ (self-formed Lingam) here and enshrined in this temple.

Awe inspiring Temple Towers (Gopurams) of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
Awe inspiring Temple Towers (Gopurams) of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

In the year 1310 A.D. the Muslim invader Malik Kafur destroyed all the ancient sculptural elements in this temple. In 1559-1600 A.D. this temple was initially reconstructed by the first Naayak King of Madurai, Vishwanatha Naayak. Later in 1623-1655 A.D. King Thirumalai Naayakkar built many complexes inside and outside the temple. He played an important role in the reconstruction of the present form of this temple.

Tallest south tower of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
Tallest south tower of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

Specialties

This temple has 14 gopurams (gateway towers). Four of these gopurams are main entrances facing towards four directions. South gopuram is the tallest one of 170 feet in height. The sacred pond inside the temple is named by ‘Portramarai Kulam’ (pond with the golden lotus). ‘Lord Indira’ got the golden lotus flowers from this pond to worship ‘Lord Shiva’ in his Shiva Puja. Lord Shiva promised a stork (a bird in the ancient world) that, fish or any other water creatures would not grow in this pond and thus none are found here.

Portramarai kulam (Pond with the Golden Lotus) of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
Portramarai kulam (Pond with the Golden Lotus) of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

Another interesting Tamil legend is that, this pond is supposed to judge the worth of a new literature. In the ancient past, authors placed their new books of literature in the water of this pond. The poorly written works were begin to sink and the Scholastic one was start out to float. Thiruvalluvar’s ‘Thirukkural’ was accepted at this pond. Devotees believed that, they will be blessed with all their wishes for success if they have a dip in this pond especially on holy days such as Amavasai day (the new moon day), the first day of the Tamil month, days of eclipse and other auspicious days and then worship the Lord.

Madurai Meenakshi Amman
Madurai Meenakshi Amman

Worshipping ‘Goddess Meenakshi Amman’ at first before ‘Lord Sundareswarar’ had been the manner of prayer and a common practice traditionally made by the devotees. The idol of Goddess Meenakshi Amman is made of Emerald Stone. Here, She stands with a parrot and bouquet. ‘Meenakshi Amman sannidhi’ and ‘Sundareswarar sannidhi’ (Deity in the sanctum) both have sculptured ‘Golden Vimanas’ (tower over sanctum sanctorum of God) with gold plated. There are several halls (Mandapam in Tamil language) with carved pillars placed in this temple.

‘Aayiram kaal Mandapam’ (Thousand pillar hall) of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
‘Aayiram kaal Mandapam’ (Thousand pillar hall) of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

The ‘Aayiram kaal Mandapam’ (Thousand pillar hall) contains 985 carved pillars (instead of 1000 pillars). Musical pillars are placed near this hall. Each pillar produces a different musical note when it was hit by a stick. ‘Velli Ambalam’ (a Silver Hall) in this temple significantly known for ‘Lord Natarajar’ changing legs in His cosmic dance.(His right foot raised as opposed to the usual left foot raised position). The huge statue of ‘Lord Ganesh’ named as ‘Mukkuruni Vinayagar’ in Tamil language placed in this temple. This sculpture is carved from a single stone and believed to be it have been found during an excavation process to dig the ‘Maariamman temple pond’ in the 17th-century by Naayak King. Lots of deities presides in this temple and it is one of the largest temple complex in Tamilnadu.

A view of inner path in Madurai meenakshi Amman Temple
A view of inner path in Madurai meenakshi Amman Temple

Daily pooja timings

Meenakshi Amman Temple is open from 5.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

Six poojas conducted daily in this temple. The timings are:-

  1. Thiruvanandhal Pooja at 5:30 AM – 6:00 AM
  2. Vizha Pooja and Kaala Sandhi Pooja at 6:30 AM – 7:00 AM
  3. Thirikala Sandhi Pooja and Vuchikaala Pooja at 10:30 AM – 11:10 AM
  4. Saayaratchai Pooja at 4:30 PM – 5:10 PM
  5. Artha Jamam Pooja at 7:30 PM – 8:10 PM
  6. Palliyarai Pooja at 9:30 PM – 10:00 PM
East Tower is also named as Raja Gopuram in the Meenakshi Amman Temple
East Tower is also named as Raja Gopuram in the Meenakshi Amman Temple

Festivals

Festivals are celebrated in Meenakshi Amman Temple throughout the year. The most important festival of this temple is ‘Chithirai Thiruvizha’ (Chithirai Festival) celebrated in a grand manner for twelve days during the Tamil month of Chithirai (April-May). This Celestial Wedding Ceremony brings together the ‘Shaivaas’ (those who worship Lord Shiva) and the ‘Vaishnavaas’ (those who worship Lord Vishnu, the brother of Goddess Meenakshi) in one place. Click Here for Details of Chithirai Thiruvizha. During this festival ‘Goddess Meenakshi Amman’ and ‘Lord Sundareswarar’ are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple twice a day. Everyday God and Goddess are seated in different Vahanams (Cars).

Lord Nantheeswarar presides before Lord Sundareswarar
Lord Nantheeswarar presides before Lord Sundareswarar

List of vahanams and the name of that day celebration is listed below

  • 1st day – Kodiyaetram (Flag Hoisting) – Karpaga Virutcham Vahanam, Simha Vahanam
  • 2nd day – Bootha Vahanam, Anna Vahanam
  • 3rd day – Kailaasha Parvatham Vahanam, Kamadhenu Vahanam
  • 4th day – Thanga Pallakku Vahanam (Golden palanquin)
  • 5th day – Vaedar Pari Leelai – Thanga Kuthirai Vahanam (Golden Horse)
  • 6th day – Shaiva Samaiya Sthabitha Varalaatru Leelai – Rishabha Vahanam
  • 7th day – Lord Nantheeswarar Vahanam, Yaali Vahanam
  • 8th day – Goddess Meenakshi Pattabishegam – Velli Simmaasanam Vahanam (Silver Throne)
  • 9th day – Thikkuvijayam – Indhira Vimanam Vahanam
  • 10th day – Thirukkalyanam (Celestial Wedding) – Yaanai Vahanam, Pushpa Pallakku
  • 11th day – Thirutherottam (or) Ther Thiruvizha (Chariot Procession or Car Festival) – Sapthavarna Chapparam Vahanam
  • 12th day – Theertham – Velli Virutchabam Vahanam
An aerial view of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
An aerial view of Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

Details of festivals celebrated yearly in the months of Tamil calendar are as follows

  • Chithirai (April – May) – Chithirai Festival
  • Vaikaasi (May – June) – Vasantham Festival
  • Aani (June – July) – Oonjal Festival
  • Aadi (July – August) – Aadi Mulai Kottu Festival
  • Aavani (August – September) – Aavani Moolam Festival / Puttukku Mansumantha Leelai Festival
  • Purattaasi (September – October) – Navaraathiri Festival
  • Ayppasi (October – November) – Kolaattam Festival
  • Kaarthikai (November – December) – Kolaattam Festival
  • Maargazhi (December – January) – Thiruvaathirai Festival, Thiruvembaavai and Thiruppaavai Festival
  • Thai (January – February) – Thepporsavam performed in Maariyamman temple pond
  • Maasi (February – March) – Mandala utsavam
  • Panguni (March – April) – Vasantham Festival
By Road

This temple is located in the center of the city Madurai, one of the largest cities in Tamil Nadu. Madurai is well connected to all over India thru Road, Rail and by Air. Details of four major National Highways passes thru Madurai is listed below

  • NH7 – Bangalore – Salem – Dindigul – Madurai – Tirunelveli – Kanyakumari
  • NH45B – Trichy – Madurai – Thoothukudi
  • NH49 – Madurai – Rameshwaram
  • NH49 EXTN – Madurai – Theni – Bodi – Cochin

This city has 5 major bus stands – Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Periyaar Bus Stand, Maattuthavani Bus Stand and Aarapalayam Bus Stand.


By Train

Madurai Junction is one of the busiest railway stations in the country and is directly connected to several major cities in India.


By Air

Madurai Airport is well-connected by domestic flights with Mumbai and Chennai. The Airport is 10 km away from the main city.

  • Azhagar Koil Temple (21Km from here)
  • Pazhamuthir Solai Temple (23Km from here)
  • Thirupparankundram (6Km from here)
  • Koodal Azhagar Temple (1Km from here)
  • Thiruvaathavoor Temple (18Km from here)
  • Thiruvedagam Temple (20Km from here)
  • Thirumohur Temple (12Km from here)

Maariamman Temple (2Km from here)

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