About the Temple
Arulmigu Meenakshi temple is the ritual centre of the ancient city of Madurai and one of the largest temple in Tamil Nadu. The temple area is divided into numerous quadrangular enclosures. It has four entrances facing four directions.The primary shrine of Meenakshi Amman and her consort Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and are protected by four minor towers. The shrine has the emerald-hued black stone idol of Meenakshi.
The Sundareswarar shrine appears at the centre of the temple area. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated top or Vimanam. The golden top can be seen from a great distance The shrine of Sundareswarar covers one fourth of the temple area and Meenakshi shrine is spread in one fourth of Sundareswarar shrine area.
The tall Ganesh idol is carved of single stone can be seen outside the Sundareswarar shrine. It is also known as Mukuruny Vinayakar. A large amount of rice is moulded into a big ball of sacrifice and hence the Ganesh is called Mukkurni Vinayagar
The Meenakshi temple is believed to have been founded by Lord Indra during his pilgrimage to atone for his misdeeds. He felt peace as he neared the swayambu lingam of Madurai. He attributed this miracle to the lingam and constructed the temple to enshrine it. Lord Indra worshipped Shiva.
The temple was mentioned by Thirugnanasambandar, the famous saint of Saiva philosophy, as early as the 7th century. He described the deity as Aalavai Iraivan. The temple along with ancient scriptures was destroyed by the Muslim invader Malik Kafur in 1310.
The temple was restored to its glory in the late 14th century when the Hindu Kings came to power in Madurai. This was a beginning of a new era in the history of the temple, when the temple was rebuilt. The King Thirumalai Naicker played an important role in the construction of the new temple.
According to legend, the sacred Suyambulingam discovered by Lord Indira at Kadambavanam, was later enshrined by him in Madurai. Here, the Lord is seen on the vehicle of Indira in this temple which proves this.
Festivals and Celebrations
The annual 10 day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival (the divine marriage of Meenakshi) is celebrated during April–May which attracts nearly 1 million visitors. It is the most important festival associated with the temple. The wedding of the divine couple is regarded as a classic example of south Indian female-dominated marriage, which is referred as "Madurai marriage". The marriage brings people from all walks of life together in order to celebrate Meenakshi as the royal monarch.
Some popular events celebrated in the temple include "Ther Thiruvizhah" or chariot festival and "Theppa Thiruvizhah" or float festival. All major Hindu festivals like Navrathri, Chitra festival, Avanimoola festival, Masi Mandala festival, and Shivrathri are celebrated in the temple.
Like most Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August) and Thai (January–February) are celebrated in the temple.
"Avani Moola Utsavam" is a 10-day festival mainly devoted to Sundareswarar.
How to reach
By Bus: Madurai city has 5 Major Bus Stands- Periyar Bus Stand, Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Arapalayam Bus Stand and Mattuthavani Bus Stand. Bus service is available from all these bus stands.
By Train: The Madurai Railway Station is 2 km away from Meenakshi Temple
By Flight: Madurai Airport is located 12 km from the city.