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Meenakshi Amman Temple Madurai

The Golden Tower - Meenakshi Templeoriginal temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the entire credit for making the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th centuries and left a majestic imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple. Its twelve gouprams (towers) are replete with sculpted figures of gods and goddesses. The four tallest gopurams stand on the massive outer walls of the temple, one on each side. The Southern Gopuram is the tallest in the temple and the only one that may be climbed. From atop this 50 m. (160 ft.) high gopuram, one gets a complete view of the other gopurams as well as the two vimanas (roof above the shrine). 

Besides the four towering gopurams on the outer walls of the twin-temples, there are four smaller gopurams in each of the two shrine-compounds. The half-finished Rajagopuram, on the eastern side, has a base measuring almost 60 m. (174 sq.ft.). If it had been completed, it would have been the most spectacular temple tower in India. Sadly, however, it remains unfinished. You can enter the temple through any of its five entrances, though the eastern entrance, in front of the Meenakshi Sannadhi (shrine) is generally used, as Meenakshi is the reigning deity of the twin-temple. This is the only entrance which is not surmounted by a towering gopuram. For the visitor who steps in through this entrance, Ashta Shakti Mandapam (mandapam - hall) is the first place of interest within the temple. It was built by Tirumalai Naicker's wives Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholimamai. In this hall food was once distributed to the devotees who came from far off places. The sculptures on the pillars here relate some of Lord Siva's Tiruvilayadals (miracles) and also the story of Meenakshi's birth and her life as the princess of Madurai. 

 

 

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