Amazing Meenakshi Amman Temple complex. Madurai

Madurai city is one of the oldest ancient cities in India, more than 2500 years old. This historic city ruled by Pandayas and Nayaks is very closely associated with  Meenakshi (fish eyed) Amman Temple which is replete with superb artistic and life-like sculptures carved out of rocks. Dedicated to Lord Shiva- Sudareswarar (handsome Lord) the temple complex is in the center of this busy city, bearing testimony to the ancestry of the Tamil culture.
 The Meenashi Amman temple is a heaven for Architects. Every place in the temple is artistically decorated. The massive ornate pillars and the life-size stone sculptures are just spellbinding Despite the passing of 2500 plus years, the beauty and the grandeur of this temple have not diminished. Simply a masterpiece of Indian temple architecture
Meenashi Temple, Madurai,Tower(s),beautifull images of feitie, demoms, etc,
 images of deities on the tower. Meenashi temple,
The following are the note-worthy featured:

01. The temple complex, one of the largest in India,  covers  45 acres of land  and the massive building covers  254 by 237 meters. Sculpted and painted Gopurams (towers), twelve in number, that cover the periphery on all sides; the tallest tower being the 170 ft tall Southern tower.

02. The temple was almost totally damaged except Amman shrine during the Muslim invasion of  Malik Kafur in 1310.
03. The famous Nayak King Viswanatha Nayak 1559 -1600 AD took up the complete rebuilding of the temple. Later King  Thirumalai Nayak- 1623- 1659 built  the Vasantha  Mandapa,  Kilikoottu Mandapam,   Teppakulam and other monuments

Thirugnana Sambandar, the famous Hindu saint mentions this temple as early as the 7th century. 

 Mukkuruni Vinayagar, the largest Ganesha statue in the

04. The massive stone  idol of Lord Ganesa  is monolithic  made  from  single  stone  called ''Mukuruny'' Vinayakar. Purportedly found below the ground while Thirumalai Nayak  was excavating the temple tank about 3 km from the temple. The shrine is in the outer Pragara (Corridor).

05. The massive Nataraja idol (cosmic dancer) covered with silver leaves in the Kilikoontu Mandapam is placed in a silver-plated alter. Hence he is called Velli Ambalam'(in Tamil Velli means silver).

06. It is said that the figure of Goddess Meenakshi Amman at this temple is engraved out of a single Emerald (Maragatham in Tamil) gem stone.

07. The Kadamba tree, which is said to be part of the same tree under which Indra worshiped Shiva  Linga, is in the outer corridor.

Meenaskshi temple,Madurai. 1000 Pillars

08. This temple is famous for its 'Aayiram Kaal Mandapam' meaning a hall with thousand pillars. Actually it  has 985 exquisitely carved pillars. It was built in 1569 (ASI);Yet another attraction is the musical pillars.

09. Meenashi Kalyanam(wedding) is conducted in the near by hall (chitrai festival) called Kalyana Mandapam.

Above image: Ashta Sakthi Mandapam (hall), built by the wives of Thrumalai Nayak. in Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu, South India.......

10. The Golden Lotus Tank (water tank or Kulam) known as 'Potramaraikulam' has connections with 'The Tamil Sangam', meaning ancient academy of eminent poets wo used to meet here. The tank is surrounded by  by pillared corridor with beautiful paintings of Puranic events.

 11. The swing Mandapam or Oonjal Mandapam in Tamil  and Killikoontu, parrot cage, are situated 

on the western side of the tank. As part of temple ritual,  the golden idols of Meenakshi  and Sundareswarar are  reverentially seated on the swing - Oonjal every Friday for pooja and prayer.

 12.The Vasantha Mandapam, also known as the Pudhu Mandapam, built by Thirumalai Nayak  holds  the spring festivals - April/May.
Scenes from Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi  wedding are depicted  here.  So are the figures of the Nayak kings and their consorts in these pillars.

13.Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is being visited by more than  7000 to 8000  people each day. On festival days such as Chitrai, Karthigai deepam, etc, there will be more visitors.

 Meenashi temple. Nataraja  idol with a raised right leg.

14. The Nataraja shrine at Madurai is known  as Rajata Sabha, where Shiva is depicted dancing with a raised right foot  standing on his left foot. unlike raised left foot in all temples. This is called ''Kaal maari aadiya patalam,''