Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Tamilnadu State
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
Meenakshi Amman Temple ( Other names : Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Tiru-aalavaai or Meenakshi Amman Kovil) is a historic Hindu temple located in the southern bank of river Vaigai in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Meenakshi and her consort, Shiva, named here as Sundareswarar. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai. The complex houses 14 gateway towers called gopurams, ranging from 45-50m in height, the tallest being the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high, and two golden sculptured vimana, the shrine over sanctum of the main deities. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is built during 1623 to 1655 CE The temple attracts 15,000 visitors a day, around 25,000 during Fridays and gets an annual revenue of sixty million. There is an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple and it was in the list of top 30 nominees of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". The annual 10 day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival celebrated during April–May attracts 1 million visitors.
Meenakashi (IAST Mīnākṣī) is an avatar of the Hindu goddess Parvati - the consort of Shiva. She is also one of the Hindu female deities to have a major temple devoted to her. The name "Mīnachchi" means fish eyed and is derived from the words "mīna" meaning fish and "akṣi" meaning eyes. The lady goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple and not Sundareswarar - this is unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity. According to Hindu legend, in order to answer the prayers of the second Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai, Parvati appeared out of the holy fire of the Putra Kameshti Yagna (sacrifice for childhood) performed by the king. According to another legend, the goddess herself gave a boon to Kanchanamalai in one of her previous births that she would have the privilege of mothering the goddess. The girl who came out of the holy fire had three breasts. A voice from the heavens told the king not to worry about the abnormality and added that the third breast would vanish as soon as the girl meets her future husband. The happy king named the girl "Tadaatagai" and being the heir to the throne, Tadaatagai was trained carefully in all the 64 sastras, the fields of science. As the time came for Tadaatagai's coronation, she had to wage war on the three worlds across eight directions. After conquering Brahma's Abode, Sathyaloka, Vishnu's Abode, Vaikunta, and Devas' abode Amaravati, she advanced to Shiva's Abode Kailasha. She very easily defeated the bhoota ganas (IAST: Bhūtagana, meaning Shiva's army) and Nandi, the celestial bull of Shiva, and headed to attack and conquer Shiva. The moment she looked at Shiva, she was unable to fight and bowed her head down due to shyness; the third breast vanished immediately Tadaatagai realized that Shiva was her destined husband. She also realized that she was the incarnation of Parvati. Both Shiva and Tadaatagai returned to Madurai and the king arranged the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage with Shiva.
it is a cholan temple
GopuramsThe temple is surrounded by gopurams (gateway tower), - There are ten gopuram the tallest of which, the famous southern tower, rises to over 170 ft (52 m) and was built in 1559. The oldest gopuram is the eastern one, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan during 1216-1238 Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons painted in bright hues. The outer gopuram presents steeply pyramidal tower encrusted with plastic figures, while the inner gopuram serves as the entrance to the inner enclosure of Sundareswarar shrine.
The tall sculpture of Ganesh carved of single stone located outside the Sundareswarar shrine in the path from Meenashi shrine is called the Mukuruny Vinayakar. A large measure of rice measuring 3 kurini (a measure) is shaped into a big ball of sacrifice and hence the Ganesh is called Mukkurni Vinayagar (three kurinis). This deity is believed to be found during a 17th century excavation process to dig the Mariamman temple tank
Temple tank and surrounding portico
Only a fraction of 17th and 18th century paintings of Nayak period survives and one such portion is found in the small portico on the western side of the tank. It depicts the marriage of Sundareswarar and Meenkashi attended by Vijayaranga Chokkanatha and Rani Mangammal. The painting is executed on a vivid red background, with delicate black linework and large areas of white, green and ochre. The celestial couple is seated inside an architectural frame with a flowering tree in the background.
HallsThe corridor surrounding the sanctum of Meenakshi is called kilikoondu Mandapam ("bird cage corridor"). The space was once used to keep green parrots that were trained to utter the name of Meenakshi. There are two large cages full of squawking green parrots.
The Kambatadi Mandapam ("Hall of temple tree") with its seated Nandi (sacred bull) has various manifestations of Shiva carved and also contains the famous "Marriage of Meenakshi" sculpture. Sculptures of Shiva and Kali trying to out-dance one another are pelted with balls of ghee by devotees. A golden flagstaff with 32 sections symbolizes the human backbone and is surrounded by various gods, including Durga and Siddar
The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam ("Hall of 100 pillars") has two rows of pillars carved with images of yali (mythological beast with body of lion and head of an elephant), commonly used as the symbol of Nayak power. It is situated to the north of Sundareswarar flag staff hall.
The Ashta Shakthi Mandapam ("Hall of eight goddess") is the first hall in the entrance of Meenakshi shrine tower near to East Tower. Ashta indicates eight and Shakthi refers to goddess - the hall has statues of eight goddesses. The gopurams (towers) can be viewed from this hall. The passage was named for eight forms of goddess Sakthi carved on its pillars. Other sculptures and paintings depict the Tiruvilayadal (holy games of Shiva). The sculptures of heroes of Mahabharata, the Pancha pandavas can be seen in the Pancha Pandava Mandapam (Hall of Pandavas).
The Viravasantharaya Mandapam is a large hall with huge corridors. To the south of this hall is the kalyana mandapam, to the south of the pillared hall, is where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated every year during the Chithirai Festival in mid-April. The golden images of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are carried into the 16th century oonjal mandapam (swing corridor) and placed on the swing every Friday at 5:30 p.m. The shrine has a 3-storied gopuram guarded by two stern dwarapalakas (guardians) and supported by golden, rectangular columns that bear lotus markings. Along the perimeter of the chamber, granite panels of the divine couple are present. The hall is situated in the western bank of the temple tank.
The Mudali Pillai Mandapam or Iruttu Mandapam (Dark hall) is a wide and long hall built by Muthu Pillai during 1613. On the pillars of the halls, there are fine sculptures depicting the story of Shiva taking the form of Bikshadanar to teach the sages a lesson.
The Mangayarkarasi mandapam is a newly built hall situated opposite to the marriage halls and bears the name of saindy queen, Mangayarkarasi who contributed to Saivism and Tamil language. To the south of Mangayarkarasi mandapam lies the Servaikarar Mandapam, a hall built by Marudu brothers in 1795. The Nagara mandapam (Hall of beating drums) lies opposite to Sundareswarar shrine was built by Achaya Rayar, the minister of Rani Mangammal in 1635. The Kolu Mandapam is a hall for displaying dolls during the Navarathri festival celebrated during September–October. This hall is situated in the second corridor of the Meenakshi shrine at the western side.
Hall of Thousand Pillars
Religious significance of the temple
WorshipThere are close to 50 priests in the temple who perform the pooja(rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to Shivaite to the Adishaivas, a Brahmin sub-caste. The priests live in a closed area north of the temple.The temple has a six time pooja calendar everyday, each comprising four rituals namely abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai(waving of lamps) for both Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. Thepuja(worship) ceremonies are held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. The common practise is to worship Meenakshi before Sundareswarar. Margazhi (December–January) ritual is prominent one for winning a perfect, god-like husband - it is Meenakshi's ennai kappu festival. Aligned with the cardinal points, the street plans forms a giant mandala (group) whose sacred properties are believed to be activated during the mass clockwise cicumambulations of the central temple.
FestivalsThe most important festival associated with the temple is the "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam" (The divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year The marriage of the divine couple is regarded as a classic instance of south Indian female-dominated marriage, an arrangement referred as "Madurai marriage". The male dominated marriage is called "Chidambaram marriage", referring to Shiva's uncontested dominance, ritual and mythic, at the famous Shiva temple of Chidhambaram.[ The marriage brings together rural and urban people, deities and mortals, Saivas (those who worship Shiva) and Vaishnavas (those who worship Vishnu) in order to celebrate Meenakshi as the royal monarch. During the one month period, there are a number of events including the "Ther Thiruvizhah" (chariot festival) and "Theppa Thiruvizhah" (float festival). Major Hindu festivals like Navrathri 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 by thousands of devotees. "Avani Moola Utsavam" is a 10-day festival mainly devoted to Sundareswarar describes his various Thiruvilayadal meaning Shiva's sacred games).
மானினேர்விழி மாதராய்வழு திக்குமாபெருந் தேவிகேள்
பானல்வாயொரு பாலனீங்கிவ னென்றுநீபரி வெய்திடேல்
ஆனைமாமலை யாதியாய இடங்களிற்பல அல்லல்சேர்
ஈனர்கட்கெளி யேனலேன்திரு வாலவாயர னிற்கவே.
maaninaervizhi maatharaayvazhu thikkumaaperu:n thaevikae'l
paanalvaayoru paalaneengkiva nen'ru:neepari veythidael
aanaimaamalai yaathiyaaya idangka'li'rpala allalsaer
eenarkadke'li yaenalaenthiru vaalavaayara ni'rkavae.
"Lady who has eyes that are comparable to the startled eyes of the deer!the great chief queen of the Vaḻuti! listen to what I say. Do not feel distressed that I am such a young boy from whose mouth milk is flowing. when the god in Tiruvālavāy stands by my side as help, I can not be easily defeated by the low people who inflict many sufferings on others and who live in hills beginning with great Āṉaimalai."
There are few poets in Tamil history who sang about goddess Parvati. The notable among them is Kumaraguruparar, a 17th century Tamil poet, who composed Meenakshi Pillaitamil on Meenakshi of this temple. King Tirumalai Nayak's patronage of Kumaraguruparar has an important place in the history of pillaitamil (a genre of Tamil literature). Kumaraguruparar visited a lot of temples and when he visited this temple, he composed Meenakshi pillaitamil on Meenakshi Legend has it that goddess appeared in the dreams of Nayak directing him to arrange the recital of Kumaraguruparar before a learned assembly. The king made elobrate arrangements for the event. Meenakshi impersonated herself in the form of a small girl and enjoyed the recital. As Kumaraguruparar was explaining the 61st verse, the goddess appreciated by garlanding the poet with a string of pearls and disappeared
The National Highways NH 7, NH 45B, NH 208 and NH 49 pass through Madurai The state highways passing through the city are SH-32, SH-33 and SH-72, which connect various parts of Madurai district Madurai is one of the seven circles of the Tamil Nadu State Highway network. Madurai is the headquarters of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Madurai) and provides local and inter-city bus transport across seven districts, namely Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari. Madurai has five major bus terminals, namely, Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Terminus (MIBT), Arappalayam (for the usage of Mofussil Transport and three others), Palanganatham, Anna Bus stand and Periyar Bus stand. There are 12,754 registered three-wheeled vehicles called auto rickshaws, which are commercially available for renting within the city. In addition to the government operated city buses that are used for public transport, there are 236 registered private mini-buses that support local transportation
AirMadurai Airport is located 12 kilometres from the city. It is one of the important airport in Tamil Nadu. It offers domestic flight services to major cities in India and international services to Colombo, Sri Lanka (beginning 20 September 2012). The carriers operating from the airport are Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. The airport handled 5.2 lakhs passengers between Apr 2011 and Mar 2012
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )