Meenakshi Amman Temple
The Meenakshi Amman Temple is the heart of the city of Madurai and is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareshwara. Mythically, this was the wedding place of the two deities. The shrine of Lord Sundareshwara is actually larger and even older of the two temples standing high side by side. The Meenakshi Amman Temple complex can be cited as an awesome example of the Dravidian idiom of architecture. Four Temple Towers of Gopurams dot the skyline at the four entry points at cardinal directions and are visible from long distances. Each of the Gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman Temple is built with thousand plus wonderful sculptures that depicts mythological tales and auspicious events. Traditionally, the visitors enter through the Southern Gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman Temple and offer worship first to the Goddess Meenakshi Amman before Lord Sundareswara.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
Inside the Meenakshi Amman Temple complex, there are separate places for keeping shoes, purchasing offerings like bananas, coconuts and incenses, and miniature images of the deities for keeping in the altars at homes. In fact, this picture of Madurai is all the same like the picture of any other large Temple complex of India. Offices, religious classrooms and some snake shrines are also there in the Meenakshi Amman Temple complex along with the temples of Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareshwara. Around the East Gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman Temple, toys and icons and photos and the like are sold; but one needs to go through a good bargain before purchasing anything from here.
In the Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai, non-Hindus are strictly not allowed to enter the innermost sancta of the temples of Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareshwara. If anyone looks suspicious, he or she will be pulled out of the queue of devotees by the security personnel. Nevertheless, the wide number of paintings and sculptures can be accessed by everyone irrespective of faith. Also, the Golden Lotus Pond or Pottramaraikulam is accessible to everyone and is a common rendezvous place for the inhabitants of Madurai and the pilgrims alike.
The Pottramaraikulam has a myth around it. It is believed that in the Sangam Age, the congregation of poets or Sangam was arranged by the side of Pottramaraikulam. The quality and merit of the poems were judged with the help of Pottramaraikulam. It is said that the poets in that assembly would throw their manuscripts into the Pottramaraikulam. The manuscripts that drowned in the water of Pottramaraikulam were inferior ones. On the other hand, the manuscripts that floated on the water of Pottramaraikulam were superior pieces of literature and were worthy of propagation and praise.
Planning a tour to Madurai?
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