Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, TiruAalavai (Madurai)
|Location of the temple||Madurai|
|Lord Shiva known as||Sundareswarar, Somasundarar, Sokkanathar|
|Female deity known as||Meenakshi|
|How to reach
||This temple is centrally located in Madurai city and is about 1 Km from both Madurai Railway Station and Madurai Central Bus stand. Madurai City is well connected with Road, Rail and Air. There are many trains passing through Madurai. Regular bus facility available from almost all towns of Tamilnadu State and from a few cities of neighbouring states.TiruAppanaur, Tiruvedagam, and Tirupparankundram are the other paadal petra sivasthalams situated in the vicinity of Madurai city.|
|Temple Address||Arulmighu Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple|
Temple history: There is a puranic story of how the name Madurai was derived for this sthalam. This place was a forest with a lot of Kadamba trees. Dhananjayan, a merchant found a Sivalinga in the forest of Kadamba Trees. He mentioned this to pandiya king Kula Sekhara Pandiyan. The king came and worshipped the Sivalingam. He destroyed the forest, built a temple for the Lord and established a city around it. As nector was found to drip near the Sivalinga its sweetness was taken as the basis for the derivation of the term "Madurai"
The Temple: Arulmigu Meenakshi sundareswarar Temple is centrally located in the heart of the city of Madurai, the entire city being built around it.The temple which has five entrances, covers an area of 17 acres, and measures 847 feet (254.1 meters) long in east west direction and 792 feet (237.6 meters) wide in the north south direction. The temple has got 14 towers in total. The temple has 4 Rajagopurams or majestic towers on the 4 sides, 5 towers on top of the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord, 3 on top of the sanctum sanctorum of the Goddess and 2 golden towers or gopurams, all which have been exquisitely designed and sculptured. All these 14 towers have been segregated based on the stages they have. They are as follows: 9 tier gopurams - 4 Nos., 7 tier chithirai gopuram - 1 No., 5 tier gopuram - 5 Nos., 3 tier gopuram - 2 Nos. and golden gopuram - 2 Nos.
The golden vimanam on top of the sanctum santorum of the Lord is called Indira Vimanam. It is also known as Ashtagaja vimanam. This vimanam is designed as if 8 elephants and 32 lions and 64 Sivaganas are carrying it. Accordingl to the legend, it is said to have been installed by the lord of Devaas, Indiran. Hence the name is Indira vimanam.
Hall of 1000 pillars: The hall of thousand pillars, popularly known as Ayiramkal Mandapam in Tamil is the largest mandapam in the holy temple complex. This Mandapam has a total of 985 pillars. These pillars have been so arranged that from whatever angle one looks from within, the pillars look in rows and rows.
At the centre of the mandapam is the idol of Chira Sabha of Lord Natarajar. Madurai is one of the pancha bootha sthalams of Lord Shiva and this sabha is silver sabha (velliyambalam). This mandapam houes a variety of beautifully carved sculptures which are a feast to the eyes. Notable among them are: sacred idol of Lord Sundareswarar who on behalf of Saint Manickavasagar converted foxes into horses, Thiripurandhakar, Nirutha Ganapathy with an urn containing ambrosia, Lord Muruga on peacock, Nagaraja, Saraswathy, idols of Mahavishnu, Arjuna in the form of a eunuch, and Draupadhi, sculptures of Pitchadanar, Dharman, Beeman, Rathi and Veerpathirar etc.