The Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple represents the multitude of faiths, vibrancy of festivities, abundance of Tamil literature and wealth of sculpture. The temple draws an infinite number of tourists to Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
The temple was built in the honour of the goddess Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Shiva. The word Meen means fish and Akshi means eyes. Originally it was constructed by Kulasekara Pandya but the credit for its lavish aura goes to the Nayaks, a great ruler of Madurai. The complex of the temple is very massive.
Meenakshi Temple is the landmark of Tamil Nadu. There is a mythological story attached to the temple. Malayadwaja Pandya, the ruler of Madurai then had no heir to his throne so he performed several yagnas (sacrificies made before a sacred fire). Finally a little girl child arose from the fire who was an incarnation of goddess Parvati. She had three breasts and had fish- shaped eyes. The king was assured that the day she meets her consort, her third breast would disappear. Once she went to the Himalayas where she met Lord Shiva. On meeting him, her third breast disappeared and then they got married to each other. After marriage they came to live at the temple made by the king Malayadwaja Pandya and since then the temple is known as the Meenakshi Sundareshwaram temple.
The temple houses huge gopurams, the tallest being 48 meters in height. Numerous imposing sculptures have been carved inside the temple. Impressive mandaps, tanks, shrines, images of goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva are the attractions here. It is said that the wedding of Shiv and Parvati was solemnized in this temple. The anniversary of the deities is celebrated every year in the temple as a festival. The festival is called Meenakshi Kalyanam and is celebrated in the month of Chaitra (April- May).
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