By Ruchika Verma
- Meenakshi Temple is one of the oldest temples in India
- It is famous for its great architecture and historical value
- The temple attracts millions of tourists every year
India can easily be considered as one of the most famous religious and cultural hubs in the world. Especially, the southern part of India is home to some of the most famous and historical temples. The temples there are not only religious hubs, but also carry a great historical significance.
One such famous temple is the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. This temple is grand, both in terms of its architecture and in terms of its historical and religious significance. It is one of the most visited temples in India and is considered the ‘Taj Mahal of the South.’
Here are some other interesting facts about Meenakshi Temple, you probably didn’t know before :
History of the Temple
Meenakshi Amman Temple is located in the middle of the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. This 2500 years old temple has a glorious past which dates back to 1560. It was designed by Vishwanatha Nayak. It was built during the period of Tirumalai Nayak, during whose reign, Madurai was the capital of Pandyan Empire.
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Architecture of the Temple
The Meenakshi temple is easily the masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. It’s complex is huge and is divided into a number of quadrangular enclosures supported by high brick walls. The temple has four entrances facing the four cardinal directions, which is very unusual for a temple in Tamil Nadu. At the core of the temple, there are two temples for Meenakshi (Parvati) and Sundareswarar (Shiva) towards the south and west directions respectively.
Meenakshi Temple has the largest temple complex in South India. The temple boasts of a 6-hectare complex which is among the largest temple complexes in the whole of India.
Dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi Amman
Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to the triple-breasted, fish-eyed goddess Meenakshi Amman (or goddess Parvati, as known in the north). ‘Fish-eyed’ is a phrase often used for a perfect pair of beautiful eyes in Tamil poetry. This temple is special because unlike other temples in South India, which are dedicated to a male deity (mostly, Shiva and Vishnu), this temple is dedicated to a female deity.
Visitors and Revenue
The Meenakshi temple is one of the most famous temples because of its great architecture and religious value. It attracts approximately 15,000 visitors a day. The number often increases to 25,000 on Fridays. The temple receives an annual revenue of Rs. 60 million from all the devotees and visitors.
Is nominated for a place in the New Seven Wonders of the World
Meenakshi Temple is nominated among the 30 attractions around the world which have been nominated to be on the list of New Seven Wonders of the World. It has become a national historic pride for India since then.
Meenakshi Tirukalyanam Festival
Meenakshi Temple is also famous for hosting the ‘Meenakshi Tirukalyanam Festival’ every year during the months of April and May. The festival lasts for 10 days and attracts millions of tourists every year to the temple.
It has 33,000 sculptures
Another interesting thing about the Meenakshi Temple is the presence of an estimated 33000 sculptures in it. Meenakshi Temple is especially famous for the huge sculpture of the Nataraja, which is built on a silver altar. The temple has a ‘Hall of Thousand Pillars’ and each pillar is carved with various sculptures.
Golden Lotus Pond
Meenakshi Temple has a pond called ‘Porthamarai Kulam’ or ‘The Golden Lotus Pond’ in its complex. The fact which makes this pond distinct from others is that the lotus which grows in it has a hue of golden.
The Meenakshi temple goes through a periodic restoration every 12 years. This restoration process is carried out as a ritual, during which the sculptures of deities in the temple are repainted and repaired. This is done to ensure that the glory and splendour of the temple last forever.