Madurai is a place where people ofen tend to visit. There are many places with national importance. It is also known as temple city. Madurai is situated on the banks of Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. It is the second largest city of Tamil Nadu and has a population in excess of 1.1 million. It is well known for the Meenakshi temple situated at the heart of the town which attracts tourists as well as pilgrims. Madurai has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil era more than 2500 years old, and has been an important commercial centre even as early as 550 AD.

Madurai was the capital city of the Pandya kings of South India. Madurai has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage, for centuries. Legend has it, that the divine nectar falling from Lord Shiva's locks, gave the city its name - Madhurapuri, now known as Madurai. Being mentioned in all holy books, scriptures and folklore, this temple town is one of the most ancient human settlements of India.

Madurai is popular for its temples and so known as temple city. When we hear about madurai, Meenakshi Amman kovil comes to our mind. Words are not enough to glorify this temple.Visitors need 2 complete days to admire each and every side of the temple. It brings us a desire to make a complete study about this temple. This is a twin temple. The temple in the southern side is dedicated to Sri Meenakshi, the consort of lord Sundareswarar (Shiva) and the other to lord Sundareswarar. This is one of the biggest temple complexes of India.

The temple is about 258 meters in length and about 241.4 meters in breadth. Of the five Gopuras (towers) that surround the temple, the 48.8 meters high southern tower is the tallest. The towers are noted for stueccowork. Madurai Meenakshi amman temple lies in the heart of the city. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, known locally as Sundareshvara, and his consort Meenakshi, or Fisheyed One. The dual shrines dedicated to god and goddess add to the complexity of the plan. The Shiva shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. The shrines are small and crowned by modest shikaras (towers) with gold plated finials. They are surrounded by their own walled and roofed enclosures with a connecting gate in their common side-wall. Within the outermost enclosure are various other features such as the Golden Lotus tank in which rainwater is collected for ritual ablution, the Marriage Hall that is used at the festival of the marriage of Shiva and Meenakshi, and the 16th century Hall of Thousand Pillars. Outside the main entrance the New Hall was constructed, an immense pillared pavilion, built in the 17th century by a Nayak ruler who commissioned life-size images of Nayak royalty to be carved against its granite columns. A massive unfinished gopuram, or gateway-tower precedes the New Hall.

These gopurams are characteristics of Vijayanagara temple cities. Their tall and highly decorated concave profile increase in size from the inner to the outer enclosures. The gopuram to the south, for example, rises up to 60 m and is covered with over 1500 brightly-painted figures of gods and demons. Raja Gopuram The base of an unfinished Gopuram may still be seen to the east wing of Puthu Mandapam. Had it been completed it would have been the tallest man-made structure ever created in Africa, Asia or Europe. The Hall of Thousand Pillars: It is a museum of icons, photographs and illustrations. Apart from being a very sacred spot for the Hindus, the Meenakshi Temple is one of the country's most important tourist landmarks. (Open from 05:00 AM to 12: 00 Noon and 04:00 PM to 09:00 PM)

 
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