The history of the Meenakshi Mandir dates back as far back as the 7th century. It is said that the first changes in the structure of the Meenakshi Mandir were made by King Vishwanatha Nayak of Madurai in 1560. During the reign of Tirumalai Nayaka (1623–55), several complexes were built in the temple, including the Vasantha Mandapam and the Kilikokondu Mandapam. Rani Mangalam builds the tanks of the Meenakshi Amman temple and the corridors of the Meenachi Nayakar Mandapam.
Many controversies arose about the succession to the Pandya throne around the 14th century. Alauddin of Delhi invaded Madurai in 1310 and exploited the anarchy. His general Malik Kafur was behind the extensive loot of the city which disturbed the life of the common people. Of the fourteen minarets of the Meenakshi Mandir, all were destroyed except only Sundareswarar and Meenakshi.
It is 2 KM from Meenakshi Mandir Railway Station. It is situated in a city called Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
History of Meenakshi Mandir
This temple is about 2600 years old. The history of this mythical temple is described in the Puranas. The name of the person who restored this temple for the first time 2400 years ago is not found in history. The glory of the Sundareswarar temple in Madurai was at its height during the reign of King Alavaya in the 7th century. In the 9th century, depicted 30 pastimes of Shiva. After the 12th century, this great temple got the name ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar’.
In 1310, Malik Kafur ransacked and looted the temple. Hindu kings renovated the temple between the 1370 and 14th centuries. Thirumalai Naikkar gave a lot of support in rebuilding this temple. Between 1572-95, Birappa Naikkar got the Sahastra Stambha Mandapa and North Gopura constructed in the temple.
Jata Varman Sundar Pandya built the eight-story Eastern Gopuram between 1140 and 1256. The nine-storeyed Western Gopuram built in 1323. In the 16th century, Raja Chevvanti Chetti built the southern Gopuram. King Krishna Veerappa built the northern Gopuram in the 16th-17th. Chitra Gopuram built in 1570 by Kalathimudalai.
Seva Nidhi Murthy got the Nayak Gopuram built in the year 1559. Various gopuras built by different kings between the 15th-16th centuries. This temple famous everywhere for the grandeur of its construction.
The temple built on about 22 bighas of land. It has four main Gopurams around it. By the way, there are 27 Gopuram in the temple, small and big. The highest is the Gopura of the South and the most beautiful is the Gopura of the West. The big gopuras are eleven stories high. On entering through the gopuras one finds a pavilion, which houses fruit and flower shops. It is called ‘Nagar Mandap’.
In front of it is the Ashtashakti Mandapa. In this, in place of pillars, the idols of eight Laxmis have become the base of the roof. There is an idol of Subramaniam on the right side of the door and Ganesh Ji on the left.
Next to it is the Meenakshinayakam Mandapa, there are shops in this pavilion. There is a Shatastambha Mandapa before the big temple. It has 120 pillars. In each pillar, there are statues of kings and queens of the Nayak dynasty. After the entrance, there is a thousand pillared pavilion. Near the gate are sculptures of hunters and animals nearby the Meenakshi Kalyan Mandap.
Mythological Story of Meenakshi Mandir
There are many mythological stories associated with Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple. Similarly, there is a story that this temple built by Indra Dev when he came here to atone for his sins. Another legend says that Goddess Parvati appeared as the daughter of the Pandya king Malayadvaja Pandya, as she prayed a lot to the Lord. Let us tell you that the girl had three breasts and it said that when she met her husband, her third breast disappeared on its own.
“Tadatagai” was the name of the king’s daughter and she was the heir to the throne. She was a scholar and was proficient in 64 scriptures and had knowledge of all subjects to rule the kingdom wisely. Legend has it that after marriage, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati ruled here for many years. Shiva-Parvati started their journey to heaven from where the Meenakshi temple is located today.
The architecture of Meenakshi Mandir
Northeast of the Purva Gopur is a lake called Saptasamudra. The idol of Shiva is 7th century old. This temple renovated by King Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya. In the sanctum, a 3-feet high Shivling installed in a 10-foot circle in a 2-foot Jalhari.
The statue of Nandi installed two feet. This is the Shivshakti Peeth where Mata Parvati seen in the form of Meenakshi. The dome of the temple is 50 feet high. Gopuras built in four directions.
Every Friday, Meenakshi takes out the golden deities of Sundareswarar so that the devotees can have darshan. The security wall of the temple is 80 feet and the other is 40 feet. After Meenakshi Darshan, there are darshan of golden flag pillar, pavilion, copper idols of gatekeepers, Vinayak Ji, Subrahmanyam Swamy, etc.
The specialty is that the indicator of Mercury is knowledge. Hence the planet Mercury is in front of Meenakshi Devi. The green stone is of Mercury. That is why the idol of God is made of stone. The deity of Mercury is Vishnu and Gauri Devi. Therefore, those who worship Goddess Meenakshi get good knowledge.
After crossing the three pillars, a 6-feet tall idol of the mother installed in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. There is a gold crown on the stone. The ornaments of gold, diamonds, and gems adorned daily. There is a diamond ring in the nose, the entire idol of the mother made of diamonds and emeralds, in one hand there is a parrot and in the other hand is a peacock.
This place 14th among the 62 divine places of Shakti mentioned in the Devi Gita. Here Mata Parvati established in the form of Meenakshi. The area of the temple 15 acres.
Festivals of Meenakshi Mandir
In the month of Chaitra, the marriage festival of Meenakshi Sundareshwar takes place. At the time of these festivals, when Meenakshi Sundeshwar gets married, many brides and grooms get their marriage done here at a very low cost.
Above the sanctum is a 12 feet high gold pinnacle. Madura called the city of festivals. There are constant festivals going on here. In the month of Chaitra, the Meenakshi Sundareswarar marriage festival takes place, which lasts for ten days. Rath Yatra takes place at this time. In Vaishakh, there is a Basantotsav for eight days from the fifth day of Shukla Paksha. The entire month of Ashadh, Shravan is of celebration. Meenakshi Devi specially worshipped in Ashadh. In Shravan, 64 pastimes of Lord Shankar commemorated.
It believed that Lord Shankar performed these pastimes with Meenakshi in Madura. In Bhadrapada and in Ashwin, there are special festivals of Navratri festival and Amavasya Purnima. Nataraja consecrated in Adra Nakshatra in Margashirsha and on Ashtami, he undertakes a Rath Yatra to Kalabhairav village. The Rath Yatra of Meenakshi Devi takes place on Paush Purnima.
Meenakshi Mandir Timings
The temple remains open from 5 am to 9 pm. But the darshan in the temple closed from 12 noon to 4 pm.
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