Meenakshi Temple

The 500 years old city of Madurai, the temple town of South India is famous for the Meenakshi Amman temple also known as the Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and his beautiful consort Meenakshi also known as Parvati. The temple is an architectural marvel dating back to the early 7th century is housed within a high walled enclosure and consists of two sanctums one for Meenakshi and the other for Lord Sundareshwar. These main sanctums are encircled by a number of shrines and many pillared halls and the Gopurams which are essentially soaring towers that kiss the sky based on granite and covered with intricate colored paintings of deities and mythical monsters and animals.

Meenakshi Temple Information

Coordinates: 9°55′10″N 78°07′10″E
Meenakshi Temple Name
Proper Name: Meenakshi Sundereshwara Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple
Meenakshi Temple Location
Country: India
State: Tamil Nadu
Location: Madurai
Meenakshi Temple Architecture and Culture
Primary Deity: Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati)
Architectural Styles: D


Meenakshi Temple

Meenakshi Temple Gopurams

The Gopurams or the Gopura are a prominent feature of Hindu Temples in the South of India. Gopurams are monumental towers, ornately decorated and are the gateways through the walls that encircle the temple. The massive Gopurams overshadow the Temple inside and also rival the main sanctum in terms of ornate decoration.

The Gopurams are mainly rectangular in shape tapering as they rise to the sky. The base of the Gopurams has ground level wooden doors ornately decorated which provide access. As the Gopuram rises up, it tapers, and divides into gradually diminishing storeys as the tower of the Gopura narrows. The Gopura is topped with the Sikhara Amalaka, a bulbous stone finial. The Gopurams are richly decorated with sculptures and carvings of figures derived from Hindu mythology especially those associated with the presiding deity.

The Gopurams of Meenakshi Temple

The Grand Meenakshi Temple has 14 Gopurams divided as per the stages there are: four Rajagopurams, the majestic towers, five Gopurams on the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord, three Gopurams on the temple of the goddess Meenakshi and the two golden Gopurams.

Rajagopurams are the Nine Tier Gopurams:

  1. The Gopura on the top of the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord (East) was built by Maravaram Sundarapandian, the Pandian King. The Gopura is 153.3 ft in height and the base is 111.3 ft by 65.6 ft and has sculpted on it 1011 episodes from the Puranas.
  2. The South Rajagopuram was built in 1599 by the Siramalai chetti and is the tallest of the Gopurams measuring 160.9 ft and a base of 108 ft by 67 ft. Sculpted on this Gopura are 1511 figures from Hindu Mythology.
  3. The North Rajagopuram (Tower without a roof). This Gopura is 152 ft in ht and the base is 111.6 by 66.6 ft and is sculpted with 404 figures from Hindu mythology.
  4. The West Rajagopuram, towers to a height of 154.6 ft with a base

of 102 ft by 63.6 ft and is sculpted with 1124 mythological figures.

The Swami Shrine Gopurams

The five Gopura above the sanctum of the Lord are:

  1. The three tiered Swami Shrine Gopuram is oldest tower and is located at the entrance to the Swami Sannidhi.
  2. The five tiered Gopura Nayaka Gopuram located near the flag post of the swami Sannidhi and the marriage mandapam.
  3. The five tiered Idaikattu Gopuram situated opposite to the shrine of Mukkuruni Vinayagar.
  4. The West swami Sannidhi Gopura
  5. The five tiered Swami Sannidhi North Gopuram.

The Amman Sannidhi Gopurams

These are the three Gopurams situated above the temple of the goddess.

  1. The three tiered Amman Sannidhi Gopuram seen on the top of the entrance of the Amman Sannidhi.
  2. The Kadahagopuram or the West Amman Sannidhi Gopurams.
  3. Chittira Gopurams

The Two Golden Gopurams or Golden Vimanas

  1. The Golden pinnacle of Swami Sannithi said to have been installed by Lord Indira himself and is so designed as if 8 elephants, 32 lions and 64 sivaganas are carrying it.
  2. The Golden Pinnacle of the Amman Sannidhi.

Five Dance Courts of Lord Shiva

Sabha (Court) Place Deity Made of
Ponnambalam / Porsabai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram Gold
Chitra Sabai Kutraalanaathar Temple, Courtallam Painting
Ratna Sabai Vataaranyeswarar Temple, Thiruvaalangadu Gems
Rajata Sabai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai Silver
Taamira Sabai Nellayappar Temple, Tirunelveli Copper


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