This towering structure cannot be given justice with photographs or mere words. I woke up early today to catch a glimpse of the magic that nature casts upon the temple at the break of dawn. And as I approached the main entrance, I was spell bound in the beauty and enchantment of the architecture.
Housing 14 Gateway Towers known as Gopurams, two sculptured Vimanas, this temple attracts over 15,000 visitors a day and around 25,000 on Fridays. During the annual ten-day festival that is celebrated during the months of April and May, the temple is visited by at least a million devotees.
Belief has it, that Lord Indra, the King of the Hindu Celestial Deities, founded the temple. The Tamil philosopher Thirugnanasambandar mentions the temple in the 7th Century, describing the deity as Aalavai Iraivan. Among all the stories that history has to speak of the temple, one particular piece of the story took me by surprise and welled me up.
It is said that the Pandian Kings taxed the people for constructing the temple during their reign. While the people paid their taxes in the form of gold and silver, the king asked but for a bag of rice, to feed the masons who constructed the temple. A handful of rice was collected from each house and this has brought about an emotional attachment to the temple for the families that have lived and still live in Madurai.
The Legend of The Temple
Though my camera kept clicking away pictures, mesmerized by the stunning beauty I was surrounded by, I was also keen enough to learn about the legend that spins around the temple and the city itself. The name Meenakshi means the fish eyed one. The principal deity of the temple is the Hindu Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, also known as Goddess Meenakshi.
The iconic parrot on the goddess’ right hand is associated with the Vaishnava Azhwar Saint Andal. The Pancha Sabhai of the temple holds the five royal courts of the dancing form of Lord Shiva, Nataraja, where he performed his cosmic dances. With over 50 priests who perform the sacred rituals , the most common and yet uncommon tradition of the temple is to offer worship to the goddess before the god.
I could go on and on and yet it would be less in comparison to the actual experience. Check out my pictures and hop on a plane to feel the magic that is the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple.