Archive for the ‘Madurai’ Category
The Sri Meenakshi Sundareswara temple and Madurai city originated together. According to tradition, Indra once committed sin when he killed a demon, who was then performing penance. He could find no relief from remorse in his own kingdom. He came down to earth. While passing through a forest of Kadamba trees in Pandya land, he felt relieved of his burden. His servitors told him that there was a Shivalinga under a Kadamba tree and beside a lake. Certain that it was the Linga that had helped him; he worshipped it and built a small temple around it. It is believed that it is this Linga, which is till under worship in the Madurai temple. The shrine is called the “Indra Vimana”.
Once Dhananjaya, a merchant of Manavur, where the Pandyas had arrived after the second deluge in Kumari Kandam, having been overtaken by nightfall in Kadamba forest, spent the night in the Indra Vimana. When next morning he woke up, he was surprised to see signs of worship. Thinking that it must be the work of the Devas, he told the Pandya, Kulasekhara, in Manavur, of this. Meanwhile Lord Shiva had instructed Pandya in a dream to build a temple and a city at the spot Dhananjaya would indicate. Kulasekhara did so. Thus originated the temple and city.
Madurai has direct rail connections to Bangalore, Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, Tirupathi and Tuticorin.
There are excellent roads connecting Madurai to all parts of South India. Madurai city has 5 Major Bus Stands- Periyar Bus Stand, Anna Bus Stand, Palanganatham Bus Stand, Arapalayam Bus Stand, Mattuthavani Bus Stand. From Madurai town buses, suburban buses, taxis, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are available to reach the temple.
Things To Know
Paranjothi Munivar wrote the Tiruviayadal Puranam in the sixteenth century. It is regarded as the temple’s Sthalapurana. An earlier work adds a few celestial sports not included in the latter. These are, or rather were painted on the walls around the Golden Lily Tank. Some of the painted wooden panels are in the Temple Museum.
The earliest references available to any structure in this temple is a hymn of Sambhandar’s, in the seventh century, which refers to the “Kapali Madil”. The present inner walls of the Lords shrine bear this name today. In the early times the entire temple must have been confined to the area between these walls, and the structures must have been of brick and mortar.
In the 14th century an invasion by Malik Kafur damaged the temple. In the same century Madurai was under Muslim rule for nearly fifty years. The temple authorities closed the sanctum, covered up the Linga, and set up another in the Ardhamandapa. When the city was liberated, the sanctum was opened, and, tradition says the flower garlands and the sandalwood paste placed on the Linga were as fresh as on the first day, and two oil lamps were still burning.
Madurai or the “city of nectar” is the oldest and second largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River and was the capital of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. The Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had built a gorgeous temple around which he created a lotus shaped city. Mythology says when city was being named; Lord Shiva blessed the city and its people. On the auspicious occasion some Divine nectar (“Madhu”) fell from the matted locks of Shiva and hence the city was named “Madhurapuri”. This sacred town of south attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from India as well as abroad.
Madurai is built around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. Concentric rectangular streets surround the temple, symbolizing the structure of the cosmos. The entire city is laid out in the shape of the lotus. Some of these rectangular streets are named after Tamil months. The six major rectangular streets around Meenakshi temple are Aadi, Chithirai, Aavani Moola, Maasi, Maarat and Veli streets.
The climate of Madurai is warm. The temperature seldom comes below 20° C even during the winters. The rainfall is very frequent and spread throughout the year, just like the flow of pilgrims and tourists is the same during the year.
How To Reach
Air : Madurai has its own airport and there are flights, which connect the city with Chennai, Tiruchirappalli. The airline services have at least one flight daily from Madurai to Chennai. From there one can take flight to anywhere in India.
Rail : Madurai has one of the major railway junctions of South India. It is connected with the all the major tourist as well as religious places in Tamil Nadu. Though there are not many trains, which connect the city with major cities of India such as, Madurai is easily accessible from any part of the nation.
Road : There are good motorable roads, which connect this, second largest city of Tamil Nadu with other parts of the state as well as other places in India. Madurai has five bus stands, which cater to the needs of the people.
Sri Meenakshi – Sundareswarar Temple
Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple dates to around 100 AD and it was expanded during the reign of Thirumalai Nayak (1623-55). Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple contains 12 gopurams and the main four gopurams are having nine storeys each. These four tall gopurams (towers) over the entrance gates is renowned for its sculptures and paintings. The southern tower is the tallest, a height of 170 ft with 1511 sudhai figures, and was built in 16th century. The oldest tower is the 13th century eastern gopuram, a height of 161 ft with 1011 sudhai figures, built by Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan. The western tower with a height 163 ft and 1124 sudhai figures and the northern tower is having a height of 160 ft. The main feature of the temple lies in the Ayiramkal Mandapam or the Hall of Thousand Pillars. The specialty of the pillars is that each one is adorned with high, ornate, bold sculptures and the view of these pillars from any angle appears to be in a straight line. There are musical pillars carved out of stones in the outermost corridors. Each pillar produces different musical note when it is tapped. The temple is open to devotees between 05:00 and 12:30 hrs and again between 16:00 and 21:30 hrs. It is at a walkable distance from the Madurai railway station.
The Thirupparankundram Temple is one of the most commonly visited places of interest in Madurai. This temple is of special interest to those who are hardcore devotees of the Hindu religion. It is situated at the top of a hill. It is located at a distance of about 8 km towards the south of the railway junction of Madurai. One can view a shrine dedicated to goddess Durga in this cave temple. The two images of Subramanya and Ganesh are placed on either sides of the Durga image.
There are a number of shrines in the temple. Some of the most prominent shrines are dedicated to Ganapathy, Shiva, Vishnu and Durgai. The entrance of the temple is marked by as many as 48 pillars. These pillars are decorated with intricate carvings. The mandapa that is located at the entrance has pillars that are identified with the Nayaka period.
Alagar Koil is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is situated at a distance of 21 km from Madurai, on foot of Alagar hills, amongst the natural beauty of the woods. Here, Lord Vishnu resides as Azhgar, brother of Meenakshi. A huge crowd of devotees is seen here in the month of April/May when Chithirai Festival is celebrated. The temple also contain some beautiful carvings and makes the visit rewarding. Palamudirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya is located atop the Hill. The splendid main tower at the entrance is believed to have been built by the Pandyan Kings. According to the historical background of the place, Malayadhwaja Pandyan, son of Kulasekhara Pandyan, was the earliest known monarch to patronize the temple. Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan beautified the ‘vimana’ of the shrine with gold plates. After the Pandya rule, the Nayakas patronized the deity.