Madurai Meenakshi temple is situated in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu, India. Goddess Meenakshi is worshipped here. Meenakshi is the other name of Parvati. It sits near the river Vaigai. Madurai Meenakshi temple is the most religious place for the Tamil people. The Madurai Meenakshi temple was made in the early 7th century. It falls under the nominations of seven wonders of the worlds. It has four entrances facing four directions and they are called Gopurams.. Lord shiva is also worshipped here. He is named here as Sundareswar. This Madurai Meenakshi temple has its own cultural and religious importance. It is one of the most visited temples of South India. Per day 15,000 pilgrims are attracted by this temple.
Legend says that Meenakshi is another form of Parvati. The term Meenakshi is derived by conjugating two terms one is Meen which means fish and Akshi which means eye, So Meenakshi means Fisheyed. According to another legend, Goddess Meenakshi appeared to answer the king Pandya during Putra Kamesthi Yagna. A girl came out of the fire had three breasts, but the abnormality was vanished from her body immediately after her marriage. This marriage is celebrated every year as Chithirai Thiruvizha. It is celebrated at the wedding ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi at Madurai Meenakshi temple.
History says that the Madurai Meenakshi temple is believed to have been constructed by Lord Indra. During a pilgrimage he noticed the naturally formed Lingam known as swayambu lingam and formed a temple around the lingam. This Madurai Meenakshi temple was known as Thirugnanasambandar. Lord Shiva was worshipped there. Later on the temple was sacked by Malik Kafur. The Nyak kings of Madurai reconstructed the temple again. During the kingdom of Pandian kings the people were paid to rebuilt the Madurai Meenakshi temple. The kings contributed one bag of rice to each house of their kingdom and in return many people from the houses contributed themselves to reconstruct the temple.
Madurai Meenakshi temple has many varieties of sculpture in its architecture. Madurai Meenakshi temple is divided into some enclosures by high walls. Madurai city was designed according to the principle of Shilpa Shastra. There are many streets which are culminating from Meenakshi temple. Tamil mythology says that the temple was at the centre of Madurai city and all the streets are coming out radially from the temple as lotus petals. The whole complex is covered around 45 acre areas. Madurai town was laid out in the shape of some squares which have their traditional name like Aadi, chittirai etc.
The Madurai Meenakshi temple has some Gopurams among which the southern tower is the tallest one having 170 ft height. The oldest Gopuram was constructed by Maravarman Pandyan. Each Gopuram is covered with many colorful figures of Gods, animals and demons. The outer most Gopuram has pyramidal structure and the inner most Gopuram is the entrance to Sundareswar shrine.
There are two main shrines in this Madurai Meenakshi temple, one is of Meenakshi and another is of Lord Sundareswar. They are surrounded by a number of enclosures and each of them covered by four towers at four points. The shrine of Meenakshi was constructed by emerald black stone. The shrine of Sundareswar is on the centre of the temple. Both of them have gold plated towers over them called Vimanam. The shrine of the Meenakshi is one fourth of the shrine of Sundareswar. One Ganesh shrine also lies over there in the temple.
The Madurai Meenakshi temple tank is known as the porthamarai Kulam. According to the Tamil mythology, it was the judge of the wise literature. All the narrators put their literature into this tank and poor literatures were supposed to sink and rich articles were supposed to float.
The hall or the corridors of the Madurai Meenakshi temple are known as the Kilikundu Madapam. There two cages full of parrots over there in that corridor. The Puthu mandapam was constructed by Tirumala Nayak just the opposite to the east gate or east Gopuram. The Ashtha Shakti Mandapam is the first entrance to the Meenakshi tower. The Viravasantharaya Mandapam is a big hall with large corridors. The Kalyana Mandapam is the south of the Viravasantharaya Mandapam. The Mudali Pillai mandapam was built up by Muthu Pillai in the year of 1613. The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam has two distinct rows of pillars. It has 985 pillars which are curved.
The Meenakshi shrine has a green parrot in her right hand, which gives a great religious significance to the deity.