Madurai is one of the famous city in Tamilnadu. Vaigai River passes through Madurai city. Madurai is world famous for the temple dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati). This Meenakshi Amman Temple has one more Eswara temple (called Sundareswara) inside the same complex. The temple was nominated for new Seven wonders of the world.
As per mythology, Lord Indra, to mislay his Brahma hatya dosha, worshipped Swayambu Lingam at Kadamba vanam place. He became free from all his doshas. Later, people continued worshipping the lingam. Then, King Kulashekar formed Madurai and the temple. Temples at Madurai are famous for Alayas.
Towers of Meenakshi Temple:
There are towers (Gopuram) around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. South tower is the tallest - 160ft. This is constructed during 16th century by Chelvandi Chettiar. The sides of this tower look like tilted. This tower is first seen to people entering Maduari. North tower has less sculptures. This tower is called Mottai tower. The tower at the East direction is the oldest. This was constructed during 13th century by Maaravarman Sunder pandyan. This is 153ft height. The Western tower was constructed during 14th century by Parakrama pandyan. There are Chitra, Vembathoor, Nadukkattu, Vrushabha towers in the temple.
Main entrance to the temple is South tower.
At the North direction, there are five Nadasthanbhas (musical pillars). Each have 22 small sthambhas. Different tones of music can be heard when these pillars are touched.
Ashta shakti mantapam is in front of Meenakshi temple. Near the door, statues of Lord Vinayaka and Lord Murugan are seen. Story tales about Goddess Meenakshi wedding can be seen.
After Ashta shakti mantapam there is Meenakshi nayakan mantapam. At the end to the west bronze 1008 deepams are located.
Beside Meenakshi nayakan mantapam, there is Mudalipillai mantapam. There is Mohini Mantap, Lord Vinayaka statue, Lord Murugan statue and the statue of Kadandai Mudaliar who constructed this mantapam. The sculpture art is excellent here.
After this mantapam, there is a golden lotus pond. There is a belief that Lord Indra took golden lotus from here. There are steps at all four sides and entry to the pond is restricted as there are barricades.
Beside Golden lotus pond, towards west, there is Oonjal mandapam. A platform with swing and pillars made up of Alabaster can be found here.
Near Oongal mantap, there is Kilikkoottu mantapam. The name has come because of parrots. There are sculptures related to Mahabharatha.
The place where Goddess Meenakshi is located, is called Amman Koil. The entrance is through Vembathoorar door from kilikkoottu mantap. In the entrance there are two life size bronze statues. Inside garbhagriha, holding the parrot on one hand and wearing flower garlands, goddess Meenakshi can be seen.
After Goddess Meenakshi darshan, Lord Mukkuruni Vinayaka statue can be seen. The statue is 8ft high. Beautiful Lord Nataraja statue can also be seen here.
In front of Mukkuruni Vinayaka statue, there is a beautiful kambathadi mantapam. In between the mantapam, there are Dwajastambham and Nandi. Several forms of lord Shiva like Ardha Naareeshwara, Soma Skanda and also Dashaavathara forms of Lord Vishnu can be seen. Sculptures of Meeenakshi - Sundareshwarar wedding are the highlights.
On both the sides of Someswarar Sannithi main entrance (Dwaram) 12ft Dwarapalakas are there. In the first Praakaara, there is a Peetham made of bronze. There are 63 nayanmar devotees surrounding. Next there is Dancing Nataraja. Next is Garbhagriham. Before this there are 8 elephants, 32 lions and 64 Bhootha Ganas. Inside Garbha griham, Lord Someswarar in the form or Lingam can be seen.
Airakkal mantap (also called 1000 pillar mantap) is the biggest. There are plenty of sculptures and pillars. These look as if they are arranged in a straight line.
There are more than 30000 sculptures, 14 Gopurams inside the temple. During April-May, 10 days festival will be organized.
Temple Opening Hours: 5.0am to 12.30pm and 14.30pm to 22.00pm
Darshan Timings: 5.00am to 12.30pm, 16.00pm to 21.00pm
Darshan details: Free Darshan available. Paid darshan INR 20 per head (Separate for Meenakshi and Sundareswarar temple) and special paid darshan INR 50 per head (Separate for Meenakshi and Sundareswarar temple). Only Mobile cameras are allowed (but strictly not allowed inside Garbha griham) with INR 50 per mobile.
There is restriction for foreigners to enter beyond certain point. Please read the boards for limits. Also, for people who are Non-Hindu, entry to certain areas is restricted. Don't consult any unknown person for darshan. For disabled people and senior citizens, battery operated wheel chair is available.
Pooja materials (Coconut, Banana etc...) are sold at temple premises for INR 40. Prasadam (Laddu, Vada etc...) is INR 10.
Drinking water facility is available inside the temple. Free meals is provided at 12.00noon for 200 devotees daily.
Keep your foot wear at places provided at various places outside the temple. Public toilets are provided at outside the East, North and South (tower) entrances. At Ellis Nagar near Periyar Bus stand, Temple Parking place is earmarked.
Temple Rest houses are available. Double bed room (INR 200 per day) and Triple bed room (INR 300 per day) are available at Birla Vishram lodge at West Chithirai street. Double bed room (INR 200), four bed room (INR 900 per day) and Dormitory (with 50 bed, INR 75 per person) are available at Ellis Nagar Rest House.
Avoid parking near temple premises as the roads are congested. Private lodges are available for all budget people. Consider staying at 1 to 1.5Kms away from the temple for cheaper price and comfortable parking. Autorickshaws are available (INR 60 - 70) to temple area.
How to reach Madurai :
Madurai is well connected by rail road and air network. Trains from different parts of the country connects Madurai railway station.
Madurai Railway station code :
By road Madurai is 70Kms from Dindigul, 120Kms from Kodaikanal, 170Kms from Rameswaram, 250kms from Kanyakumari, 460Kms from Chennai, by road
Nearest Bus station: Madurai
Nearest Railway station: Maduari
Nearest Airport: Maduarai ( IXM )