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Meenakshi Sundareshwara

Meenakshi Sundareshwara Temple, also known as Meenakshi Amman Temple, is among the oldest and most famous temples of Madurai. A major pilgrimage destination, the temple is dedicated to Meenakshi Devi and Shiva. The temple also houses Lord Vishnu in many narratives, sculptures and rituals, as he is considered to be Meenakshi’s brother. Attracting devotees throughout the year, the temple attracts over a million pilgrims and visitors during the annual 10-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, celebrated with much festivities and a ratha (chariot) procession during the Tamil month of Chittirai.

History
This magnificent temple holds a great mythological and historical significance. According to popular beliefs, Lord Shiva in the form of Sundareswarar (the handsome one) married Devi Parvati (Meenakshi) at the very site where the temple is currently located. Even today, the wedding ceremony is celebrated every year as ‘Chithirai Thiruvizha’ which is also known as ‘Tirukalyanam’ (the grand wedding).

Temple Attractions
Famed for its astonishing architecture, the Meenakshi Temple is spread over a huge area of 14 acres. Enclosed with huge walls, the entire structure of the temple when viewed from above represented a mandala.

Adorned with various shrines built within the temple complex, there are idols dedicated to various other deities like Ganesha and Murugan, apart from Sundareshwara and Meenakshi. The temple also houses goddesses Lakshmi, Rukmini, and Saraswati.

The temple also houses a sacred pond with the name ‘Porthamarai Kulam’, meaning ‘pond with a golden lotus’. The structure of a golden lotus is placed at the center of the pond. According to popular beliefs, Lord Shiva is said to have blessed this pond while declaring that no marine life would ever grow in it.

Significance of the temple
Since Meenakshi is the main deity of the temple, the temple sermonizes the importance of woman in a Tamil family. The temple also draws a beautiful metaphor on the cordial relationship between Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism.

The Sundareswara shrine of the temple is famous as one fifth of ‘Pancha Sabhai’ (five courts) where Lord Shiva is believed to have performed the cosmic dance. One of the rituals of the temple involves placing an image of Sundareswarar inside a palanquin which is then moved to the shrine of Meenakshi. The devotees usually worship Meenakshi before offering their prayers to Sundareswarara.

Festivals of the temple
Apart from celebrating the wedding ceremonies of the deities, there are a number of other festivals that are celebrated in the temple. Some of these include ‘Vasantham festival,’ ‘Unjal festival,’ ‘Mulai-Kottu festival,’ ‘Arudhra Dharsan festival,’ ‘Thai utsavam,’ ‘Kolattam festival,’ etc. Each festival boasting its own significance is celebrated during different months throughout the year. The temple also celebrates ‘Navarathri festival.’

Best time to visit Meenakshi Sundareshwara Temple
Since the temple is open throughout the year, it can be visited anytime. But the best of its beauty can be explored when both the weather and occasion are favourable. While the summers in Madurai are hot and humid, monsoons are pleasant, making July and August the best time to visit this temple. If you wish to attend the Chithirai Festival, then the months from April to May are great for visiting.

The perfect time to explore the temple and enjoy sightseeing is between October to March as the weather remains pleasant through the days.

You can plan an early morning trip to the temple or also in the evening for the night ceremony.

How to reach Meenakshi Sundareshwara Temple
By Air – Madurai is well connected to all the major cities, and the Madurai airport is just 10Km away from the main city.

By Train - All major trains are available from Madurai to the various cities of the country.

By Road - If you want to travel by road, AC as well as non-AC buses are available.

Meenakshi Temple is just 1 Km away from the Madurai Junction Railway Station and more from any location in Madurai. You can easily reach here by taxis, local buses and auto rickshaws.



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