A Wonderful start for my travelearning,
I would like to thank everyone who supported me and wished me luck.With all your supports and wishes the first day of my travelearning was successful.I came up with many interesting information and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
Day 1: Meenakshi Amman temple
Once Indra (the god of lightning,thunder and rain) was burned with the sin of Brahmahathi(the sin of killing a Bhraman). To expiate his sins he did penance at various shrines.He was purified in Madurai and he found a suyambulingam(self manifested idol) under a kadamba tree.He worshipped the deity and built a Vimanam(tower) over the deity.
Later the king Kulasekara Pandiyan built the proper temple for this deity.The king had no children so he perfomed a yaagam and out of fire came a 3 year old girl child with three breasts.A divine voice consoled them saying that her third breast would disappear when she meets her true love.They named the child Thadaathagai.She mastered all the 64 arts. She conquered all the countries and reached Kailas, the abode of Lord Shiva. But on the battle field when her eyes met the powerful eyes of Lord Shiva , her third breast disappeared.She realised that she had met her true love.
Lord Shiva came to Madurai and married Thadaathagai. They ruled Madurai for some time.They assumed the divine forms as Meenakshi and Sundareswara after giving the throne to their son Ugra pandiyan.
This story was narrated to me by one of the guides.
I left my house at 8.30 am and I boarded a share auto to Simmakal. Within 25mins I reached Simmakal and a 5mins walk from there led me to the Meenakshi Amman temple.
The tower of the temple looked magnificent even at the very start of the road.Both the sides of the road was filled with various shops but I was just staring at the tower.
I neared the tower.I was standing right in front of the tower. “wow!!” I exclaimed without my knowledge.It was such a beautiful sight in the early morning with the gentle breeze caressing you.
Meenakshi Amman temple is adorned by four gigantic 9 stroeyed towers ( East,West,North and South).This is the picture of the East tower.This is the oldest tower constructed by Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan in the 13th century.There are also other small towers which add to the beauty of the temple
Ashta Sakthi Mandapam
It is said that everyone who comes here should first worship Meenakshi and then worship Lord sundareswarar. This is the entrance of the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam which is near the East Tower.
This mandapam is named after the eight different figures of the Goddess Shakthi, which is represented on the pillars on the two sides. The images of Lord Ganesha and Lord Muruga are seen on either side. In the centre there is a painting of the wedding of Goddess meenakshi.
These are the carvings on the stone pillars that welcomes you.
The Golden Lotus Tank
After proceeding further inside we reach the most famous part of the temple. The Golden Lotus Tank. In Tamil it is called Potramarai kulam. It is said that Indra bathed in this tank in order to purify his sins and worshiped Lord Shiva with Golden Lotus picked from this tank. This tank with a Golden Lotus in its centre is surrounded by spacious corridors.The walls of the corridors are painted with the scenes from Thiruvilayadal Puranam.
Adjacent to the Golden Lotus Tank is the oonjal mandapam. The ceilings of the oonjal mandapam are painted with Six Famous Temples (Arupadai Veedu) of Lord Muruga and different avatars of Lord Ganapathi (Ganesha).
Proceeding further we could see People waiting in long queues to worship Devi Meenakshi,the fish eyed Goddess with a parrot in her hand.
I was watching the ceilings and the pillar carvings and suddenly my eyes fell on a NOTICE BOARD stating NON HINDUS are not allowed beyond this limit.I was shocked to see such an offending notice.
Non-Hindus are allowed inside the temple but they are not allowed inside the inner sanctum. When I asked about this, it is said that not only in this temple most of the famous temples in India have this rule. They said that it is the traditional rule of Hindus.They tried to convince me but I find this notice meaningless and offensive.
Rotating Siva Lingam On the Ceiling
There are two such rotating Siva Lingams on the ceiling.One is found in The place where people stand in queues to worship Devi Meenakshi.The other one is found near Mukkuruni Vinayagar.
The speciality of this ceiling painting is that it is painted in such a way that the Siva Lingam faces you straight, from which ever direction you see it.
I really couldn’t believe my eyes when the Siva Lingam looked at me straight in which ever direction I turned. I could see the genius of the painters. It was so brilliantly painted. I was trying to understand the technique behind this wonderful work of art but I couldn’t arrive at a conclusion.
The Breath Taking Golden Flag Staff
I was walking in the Outer Prakaram, suddenly I saw something glowing at a distance. It looked like a blazing fire. I couldn’t help but just stare at its glow. I was ‘Wow’ing all the way to the Golden Flag Staff. My eyes widened on seeing such a bright golden glow. When looked at a distance it just looks like a flame of fire.
It is said that this eight feet image of Lord Vinayaka was found when Thirumlai Nayakkar was digging the Vandioor Theppakulam to build a palace for himself,he found this 7 feet idol of Lord Vinayaga. People worship him by offering kolukattai or modak (favourite sweet of Lord Vinayaga) made out of 18 padi (a measuring unit) of rice. 18 padi is also called as mukkuruni ( 1 padi = 6 kuruni; so 18 padi = 3 kuruni). Hence the Lord is named as Mukkuruni Vinayagar.
Goddess Meenakshi’s Marriage Hall
We could see this hall on the way to the Golden Flag Staff. This is the Wedding hall of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar. Every year in the month of Chithirai (Tamil Month) their anniversary is celebrated grandly as a festival in Madurai. This festival is called Meenakshi Thiru Kalyanam.
The Secret Wish
Nandhi is the name for the Bull which serves as a gate-keeper of Lord Shiva and Goddess parvathi.This Nandhi is found in the centre of the way which leads us to the Thousand pillared Hall. We could see various small shops on either sides of this pathway . It is believed that all our wishes will come true if we whispered our wishes secretly in the ears of this Nandhi.
The Thousand Pillared Hall
Rupees 5 should be paid as the entrance fee to enter inside the hall. Rupees 50 should be paid to take cameras and mobile phones inside.
This was built by Ariyanadha Mudaliar. There are 985 pillars arranged in such a way that it appears in straight line, from which ever angle one views it. There are about 90 idols placed between the gap between the pillars. There is also an exact model of Meenakshi Amman Kovil. There is also an exhibition of paintings depicting various stories and myths. Many antique idols and art pieces are preserved here.
These are some of the idols in the Thousand Pillared Hall.
These are the 3 stone pillar carvings near the musical pillars.The first image
(from the left) is the carving of a women playing a musical instrument. The next image is a male with Olai Suvadi(ancient manuscript made out of Palm leaf) in his hands.The next image is the carving of Rathi Devi,the most beautiful girl in the Indralogam.
This is a small Vinayagar statue near the Musical pillar at the entrance of the Thousand Pillared Hall. There is a opening in the ceiling from which the natural sunlight falls on the idol and makes it more beautiful.
This is the picture of the musical pillar in the left corner of the entrance of the thousand pillared hall.It is said that by the side of the North Tower there are 5 musical pillars each consisting of 22 small pillars carved out of single stone. In the Thousand pillared hall there are 2 musical pillars at the entrance.They produce musical sounds when tapped.I just love this pillar for its amusing quality. Place your ears in the pillar and tap it slightly, you’ll be amused to hear a musical sound. The sound that comes from the pillar when tapped sounds as if we had tapped a musical instrument. Amazing!! right?
I came out of the East Tower and found this Pudhu mandapam in the front of the East Tower. It is also known as Vasantha mandapam. It is said to be the summer resort of Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi. Now there are about 300 small shops in this mandapam. One can buy anything from accessories&Fancy items to Books.
As we come out of the Pudhu Madapam We could see the big Nandhi Statue in the middle of the road.
I spent 5 hours in this magnificent temple, yet I couldn’t cover all the places.Then imagine how great,big and magnificent it would be.The time spent here in this temple is well spent.There are so much to know in this Great temple.I have recorded only its highlights.One shouldn’t miss these outstanding parts of the temple.
I would like to thank every single soul in the temple who helped me with various information about the temple.I would also like to thank my friends who encouraged me.Over all it was a great experience.