The Meenakshi temple in Madurai is said to be the home of the same-named warrior goddess. The Sanskrit words "meen," which means fish, and "aakshi," which means eyes, are combined to form the name Meenakshi. As a result, the name refers to someone with lovely eyes that are comparable to fish, a term used in Tamil literature to describe eyes that are nearly faultless.
The Madurai Meenakshi temple, one of the major temples in Tamil Nadu, is a 6-hectare complex with fourteen enormous gopurams (tall towers) that are just breathtaking. The heroes, goddesses, gods, and devils depicted in the stucco figures atop the gopurams guard the pilgrims who come here.
According to numerous myths, the lovely fish-eyed goddess was created as a blessing for the childless monarch. The girl was known as Meenakshi and had stunning, large, penetrating eyes. Even the most seasoned soldiers could not match the princess' skill in the arts of combat. The king started looking for a princess match who would be deserving enough to lead the country after the king's death.
But no such suitor was discovered. Meenakshi assumed leadership of the countries upon the death of the monarch and began waging war on her adversaries. In one of these campaigns, Sundareswara vanquished her (believed to be the incarnation of Shiva). The princess consented to Sundareswara's marriage proposal and returned to Madurai to establish her reign.
The construction of temples was ordered during the reign of King Kulasekara Pandya, according to historical documents. The king is credited with building the temple's primary components, including the three-tier tall gopura and portions of the main shrine. The temple complex was subsequently extended and various new elements were added to the old design with the following shift of power.
Several historical documents from the 7th century include references to the temple. The Meenakshi Temple in Madurai was further developed by the emperors like Vishwanatha Nayaka or Tirumalai Nayaka (both kings of Madurai in the 14th century), who also added various architectural elements including the magnificent Vasantha Mandapam.
The temple had been pillaged by several foreign invaders countless times. The temple structure, however, was renovated and redecorated each time. Regrettably, just a small fraction of the temple's original construction is still visible.
The Meenakshi Amman temple is a stunning example of Dravidian architecture. The temple complex, which covers a six acre area, features 14 gopurams, the largest of which is at the southern end and is roughly 52 metres in length. There are several components to the temple complex, and there are four entrances located in each of the four cardinal directions.
Meenakshi, who is worshipped here with her heavenly partner Sundareswarar, is the principal goddess of the temple. The primary deities' idols are kept in the main temple, which is surrounded by three complexes. Meenakshi is decorated with priceless diamonds and is carved from black stone. Gilded towers that add to the grandeur of the overall construction are added to the main temple structure.
The Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is a significant site for pilgrimage because it has ties to several significant events in Hindu mythology. There is a Nataraja statue at the Sundareswarar temple complex because, according to numerous holy sources, this is one of the places where Shiva performed his Tandav. The statue deviates from the traditional Nataraja depiction, though. In this image, Lord Shiva is shown dancing with his right leg elevated rather than his left.
Meenakshi Thirukalyanam, which commemorates the goddess' marriage and is a significant religious festival, is observed with a lot of fanfare. In this case, the bride is given precedence over the groom—a departure from the norm for a patriarchal society. Devotees commemorate the union of the divine for over a month throughout the celebrations. Shivratri and Navratri are two other significant holidays.
In terms of temple architecture, the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is excellent. It is a breathtaking location that displays India's rich heritage.
Timings& Entry Fees
Hours: 6:00 am to 12:30 pm in the morning
4:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the evening
No entry fees, for special darshan rs.1000 will be charged
Best Time To Visit
While being accessible year-round, the Meenakshi Amman temple is most impressive when the weather and surroundings are ideal for a fantastic excursion. While July and August are wonderful times to arrange your vacation because of the nice monsoons, Madurai's summer months are hot and muggy. But April through May are also wonderful if you want to go during the Chithirai Festival. But from October to March is the ideal period for touring the magnificent temple and the city since the weather is comfortable all day long.
The finest times to visit the temple are early in the morning and again in the evening for the night ceremonial.
- Mani’s residency :
Each hotel room has a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed sheets, and towels. Mani's residence offers rooms with closets and air conditioning.
- Gopuram residency :
The 3-star hotel features air-conditioned rooms with free Internet and a patio. The hotel has room service and a front desk that is open round-the-clock for visitors.
A flat-screen TV and complimentary amenities are provided in each hotel room.
- Coral shelters keelavasal :
In Madurai, the Coral Shelters Keelavasal offers rooms with air conditioning, complimentary Internet, and access to a patio. The apartment has a balcony, a living room with a flat-screen satellite TV, a fully functional kitchen with a refrigerator and an oven, and a private bathroom with a shower.
- Hotel Temple view annex :
A common lounge, free WiFi, and free private parking are all available at the Hotel Temple View Annex in Madurai, which is close to the Koodal Azhagar Temple and Meenakshi Temple. There is a 24-hour front desk and room service at this two-star motel. It is located 1.5 kilometres from Tirumalai Nayakkar Palace and is allergy-free.
- Moskva hotel :
A business centre, as well as a conference and function area, are available at the Moskva Hotel. Facilities for laundry and money exchange are provided.
The seating space in the air-conditioned rooms has a flat-screen satellite TV, minibar, phone, closet, electronic safe, and electric kettle. The adjoining bathrooms come with free toiletries.
Restaurants Near Temple
- Bamboo garden :
Chinese food aficionados are advised to visit this establishment. Bamboo Garden has earned a perfect five-star rating on Facebook.
- Big chick fried chicken :
This is a location in the same network of eateries. They were experts in various fried chicken recipes. The consistency and quality are both pretty good.
- Madurai star biryani :
The ingredients and recipes for Chinese and Indian cuisines are available here. One benefit of this barbecue is that food may be delivered. Get some delicious biryani, shawarma, and chicken fried rice at Madurai Star Biryani to mix up your usual dinner.
Details on the Madurai Meenakshi Temple festivals. Every month there is a celebration in the temple during the 12 months of the Tamil calendar. This temple has celebrations all throughout the year. The Chitra Festival, Avanimoola Festival, Masi Mandala Festival, Float Festival, and Navarathri Cultural Festival are a few of the temple's most well-known festivities.
- April: The first day of the 12-day Chitra celebration, which lasts for the whole Tamil month of Chitrai (April according to the Gregorian calendar), sees the flag raised. The coronation of Meenakshi Amman occurs on the eighth day. The Goddess is carried out in a procession on the ninth day. The heavenly wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar is celebrated on the tenth day, followed the following day by the automobile festival, and the Theertha celebration is observed with the Lord and Goddess parading through the Town streets on the twelveth day.
- May: During this month, the spring celebration is held for 10 days. Offerings of milk and mango to the gods would be made on the tenth day. The Lord and Goddess would travel to the New Mandapam, remain there, and then be eliminated. On the day of the Moola star, the 63 Saints' Procession would take place in the morning, and Thirugnanasambandar would be carried out in Procession at night.
- June: Ten days will be devoted to the Oonjal event this month. The triple fruit pooja will be done on the tenth day. On the day of Uthiram, an abhishekam will be conducted for Sivakami Amman and Arulmighu Nadarajar. Through the fur Masi streets, the Panchasabha Nadaraja Moorthy will be carried out in a procession.
- July: Throughout this month, there are ten days dedicated to the Aadi Mulaikottu celebration. Amman would be the lone participant in the event, and she would be led out in a procession along the Aadi streets. The festival's high point would be special Nadaswaram recitals.
- August: The 18-day Aavani festival would be held. Arulmighu Chandrasekarar would be honoured during the first six days of the festival, and the remaining 12 days would be devoted to the Panchamoorthies. Sundareswarar would be given a coronation on the seventh day of the celebration, and the horse reins would be switched on the eighth day. On the ninth day, theertham on the occasion of the union of Avittam and Pooranai would be celebrated while the tale of Lord Sivaperuman transporting dirt to acquire pittu would be performed out. Arulmighu Thirupparankundram Subramaniyar and Thiruvadhavur Arulmighu
- September: Manickavasaka Peruman will say their goodbyes on the same night. The procession would travel through the second corridor of the Swami temple during the Chandrasekaran festival. The Panchamoorthies will be carried in procession through the streets of Aavani Moola. The Sivachariars would reenact the 10 miracles carried out by the Lord of Madurai during these days.
- October: During this month, Amman will celebrate the Navarathri festival in a lavish way. Every day, Amman would come in a different outfit and appearance to bless the worshippers at the "kolu mandapam" at Amman Sannidhi. At the sanctuary, Amman would receive daily Lakshacharna and Kalpa pooja. The ceremony for washing one's hair would take place on the tenth day. Panchamoorthies would be carried outside in a procession on that day inside the temple grounds. Cultural festivals would be held in a magnificent style during the course of the 10 days of the festival. The entire temple complex would be illuminated by coloured lamps, and the dolls would be placed so as to appeal to the worshippers' emotions.
- November: The Koodal Kumarar Sannidhi would host a six-day event honouring Kanda Sashti. There is no soorasamharam here. "Pavadai Dharshan" will take place on the seventh day when Arulmighu Muthukumarar leaves in procession. A durbar was conducted for the temple staff on the day of the Deepavali celebration.The rite of hoisting and swinging Meenakshi Amman would take place during this month's Pooram days.
- December: Ten days will be devoted to the Deepam (lights) festival this month. The Aadi streets will be used for the procession that would carry Swamy out. One lakh lights would be kindled at the temple on the day of Karthigai. A bonfire would be lighted on that day at East Masi Street.
- January: This month, the New Mandapam will host an oil anointing event for nine days. The procession of Arulmighu Meenakshi Amman would travel through the Chitra streets. There will be an Arudhra Dharshan on the day of Thiruvadhirai. Throughout the Main streets, Pancha Sabha Nataraja Moorthigal would be carried in procession. The Lord and Goddess would ride the oxen cart around Kottai streets on the day of Ashtami. The ten-day Thiruvembavai festival would be held. Arulmighu Manickavasagar was carried out in procession every morning through the Aadi streets. Ceremonies would be held on the 10th turning wheel and golden spring. Thiruvembavai and Thirupalli Yezhutchi poetry would be performed in the morning, and spiritual authorities would deliver sermons. For students in high school and college, tournaments would be held and awards given.
- Feburary: Throughout the month, the float festival would last 12 days. Amman and Swamy would be led in a parade through the Chitra neighbourhoods. The casting of the net celebration would take place on the eighth day, while theertham festival and the pushing of the float would take place on the tenth day. Sheaf harvesting would take place on the eleventh day, while the float celebration would take place on the twelfth.
- March: A mandala would be the focus of the Maasi Mandala event (48 days). Three days of the festival are devoted to the trio, three days to Arulmighu Vinayaka, six days to Arulmighu Kumar, and six days to Chandrasekarar. At the second corridor of Swami Sannidhi, the deities will be carried out in a procession. When they are carried out in procession down the Chitra streets, the Panchamoorthy festival will be observed for 10 days. On the day of Maham, Theertham would take place. The silent celebration would last nine days, three of which would be dedicated to Chandrasekarar and the same number of days to Swamy and Chandikeswarar. The flag would be lowered on the tenth day, and the accounts would be read.
The Velliaymbala mandapam would hold the summer spring festival for nine days. Amman and Swamy would be led in a parade through the streets of Chitra. On the day of Panguni Uthiram, Swamy and Amman would travel to the Arulmighu Thiruvappudayar temple and sprinkle "rasa vadham" to bless people who excel in their religious beliefs.
There isn't a formal dress code in place at the Meenakshi Amman Temple. Nonetheless, wearing traditional Indian attire is suggested in order to respect the culture. Men should wear a kurta or shirt with dhoti or pyjamas, while ladies should wear a saree or salwar-kurti-dupatta.
How To Reach
- By air
Madurai has both a domestic and an international airport. Most of the flights have connections at Chennai, or Madras. There aren't many direct flights from India's largest cities. The airport is 15 kilometres away from the main city off of NH-47. After landing, the best choice is to call a cab at one of the reputable booths in the airport. Bus number 10A, which runs from the airport to the Periyar bus stop, is for public transportation. Nowadays, all internet services are accessible via any method of transportation.
- By road
– Road trip for pilgrims from Chennai and Bangalore takes 8 to 10 hours. The routes to go to Madurai on the highway are NH-7, NH-49, and NH-45B.
Together with private buses, Tamil Nadu's state government offers regular bus transportation on the road. To go to Madurai, take a bus to one of the main cities in Kerala, Karnataka, or another region. For those travelling over large distances, interstate bus transportation options are also offered.
- By Rail
– The main means of transportation, trains are accessible to all types of people. Trains from major cities and towns, including as Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi, run to Madurai.