Ashta Shakti Mandapam
When you enter the temple from the eastern gate then you will enter into a mandapam that was built by the wives of Thirumalai Nayakar namely Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholimamai. In the early days, food was distributed to devotees who traveled from a very long distance.I dont think its feasible today as u see these temples are maintained by Government of India and they are not kept clean as they should have been. The ‘Thiruvilayadals’ (divine acts) of Lord Shiva are well carved on sculptures in the mandapam. The birth of Meeenakshi and her life as a princess are also carved.
There is also a story behind Meenakshi who ruled as the princess over Madurai. King Malayadwaja Pandya was childless. As it worried the king and his wife, they performed yagnas (rituals) and prayed to God for a child. From the fire came a little girl who had three breasts. The king was very much worried about it but he then heard a voice which said that the third breast will disappear when she meets her consort. The princess learnt all the skills and turned into a very brave princess and she was the one who stood first in the times of war. It was in the battle field of the Kailas that the princess lost her heart to Lord Shiva. Her third breast also disappeared and their wedding took place. They then realized that she was meant to be none other than Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife. From then on they ruled over the city of Madurai as Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. The wedding of the Lord Shiva and Meenakshi takes place every year as a very grand festival and there is the procession of the Lord and Meenakshi for 9 days. The wedding takes place on the tenth day in the month of Chithrai.
Over the entrance to the Ashta Shakti Mandapam is found the sculptural representation of the wedding of Meenakshi.The images of Genesa and Subramanya are seen on either side.The Mandapam is so called after the figures of eight Sakthis represented on the pillars on the two sides.On the walls are seen paintings and sculptured figures depicting secens from the Thiruvilayadal Puranam.The figures of the four great Saivite Saints adorn the Mandapam on the Eastern end.
Facts about Gopuram
The Gopurams or the Gopura are a prominent feature of Hindu Temples in the South of India. Gopurams are monumental towers,sth like pyramids in Egypt,well decorated and are the gateways through the walls that encircle the temple.
The Gopurams are mainly rectangular in shape tapering as they rise to the sky. The base of the Gopurams has ground level wooden doors very nicely decorated which provide access to the tower/Gopuram. As the Gopuram rises up, its size reduces and gradually reduces in diminishing storeys as the tower of the Gopura narrows. The Gopura is topped with the Sikhara Amalaka, a bulbous stone finial. The Gopurams are all over decorated with sculptures and carvings of figures derived from Hindu mythology especially those associated with the presiding deity.
The Grand Meenakshi Temple has 14 thats what we can see in miniature model of temple. 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.
Fierce Monster Images with protruding eyes and horns,mark the arched ends ends of vaulted roofs,and serves as gaurdian deities.
Sculptures on Gopurum
The Sculptures of the deities on the tower are repaired,repainted and ritually reconsecrated every 12 years
Opening on Gopurum
Opening in the middle of the long sides allow light to enter the hollow chambers at all level
Once you enter here you will see this paintings on ceiling.I was just mesmerized by the view and whole hall's ceiling is painted with deities paintings.I was just wondering how long it might have took to do all these.And still they are maintaining it in perfect shape and colour.
Here you will see ticket counter for Darshan( To have a glimpse of God)
Entrance fees at Meenakshi Temple
There is no entrance fee to visit the Meenakshi Temple.
However for Meenakshi Amman Dharshan you can Either Have VIP Dharishanam or Fast Track Dharishanam.
Meenakship Amman VIP Dharshan Fee: Rs 500.00
Meenakshi Temple Fast Track Dharshan Fee: Rs 100.00
Meenakshi Aarathanai (Pooja with garland) Fee: Rs 15.00
For Still Camera Fee: Rs. 50.00
For Taking movie Camera Fee : Rs.250.00
Please you can use the Public Access way also, but normally it is very crowded especially on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. You may need to stand in queue, sometime more than 3 minutes- 5hrs.
I took this 100Rs. Ticket there u will see sign board according to the amount you are paying.One is free for general public but as i mentioned above it will take more than that,the queue so long I avoided queuing up there.And with 100Rs. queue wont be that long but still that took more than 45 mins I remember.This 500Rs. tickets I am not sure but I saw some people were entering before us so I think its there but at ticket counter nothing was mentioned so pls ask if u dont want to wait for 45 mins.
Just infront of Kambathadi Mandapam this Sundareswarar Shrine is there.Taking photo is prohibited so I dont have any photos to attach.Images of Dwarapalakas 12ft. in height keep watch at the entrance to the Swamy Shrine.Nataraja Lord in dancing pose with right foot raised.Passing through a small door we come to the immediate precincts of Sundareswarar in th sanctum sanctorum.This is supported by sixtyfour boothaganas,eight elephants and thirty two lions.The lingam which bears so many names lik Chokkanathar, Karpurachockar.
And 100Rs. ticket what we took already is valid for this shrine,Which is good part.And once you enter the shrine some priest will be there to perform Pooja(divine ritual)and they dont ask for any money even we can as less as 0.25 cents thats just 10Rs. and maximum as per ur choice.Before they do this Pooja they ask for Rashi(sunsign) and Nakchatram(this is defines the birth timing).
Kambathadi(Main flag of the temple hoisted here)Mandapam contains charming statues which are unparalleled in their exquisite beauty and intricate carvings.Here you will Lord Hanuman(Monkey God--Quite funny name given to our god by western people).The Golden flagstaff,nandi and bailpeedam are at the centre.Lord siva in His different manifestation is represented on each of the eight ornamental pillars of the mandapam.There are also many images depicting the avatars of Lord Vishnu.Of ll these the finest work is the one depicting the wedding of Meenakshi.This is striking illustration of the excellence of Dravidian Art.The sculptor's ingenuity infusing so much life in the stone is quite astounding.Near the mandapam stand the collosal statue of Agne Thandava pose.
From the shrine of Meenakshe we move through the Killikoottu Mandapam.At the northern end Mukkuruni Vinayakar facing south statue is there.This eight feet high image of vinayakar was found when Thirumalai Nayakkar was digging the vandiyoor Theppakulam(Pond).
The shrines dedicated to Gnanasambandar,Poets of the Third Tamil Sangam and Nataraja are found in the outer prakaram of th Swami Shrine.The famous Kambathadi Mandapam is built just in front of the Shrine in this prakaram.
While movine around the Meenshi Shrine you will see these huge container.People put some money as a token to god even after taking tickets.There are three containers around this Shrine.I saw people offering money even the strangest thing I saw is one lady put here gold chain in this container.Her chain might have been atleast 40grams I think for today's money it is costing around 2000$ I mean the kinda faith people having for god is great in India.
After taking tickets ,crossing the kilikoothu(parrot kept in cage) Mandapam we enter the shrine of Devi Meenakshi.A three storeyed Gopuram stands at the entrance.There will be different queue for Darshan(Glimpse) according to the tickets taken.Wait in a queue and when entering into main place there will be different queue for men and women Its always there in all south indian temples but I dont see people following this procedure here but to avoid any undue attention I prefer to follow normal custom.
And after having glimpse of deity its procedure to take round of Meenkshi shrine from entrance to towards Mukkuruni Vinayakar.I did sth wrong here,I started taking round in opposite direction then one old gentleman asked me to avoid doing such things.And according to hindu rituals this should not be done.I followed his instructions.
While we were standing in queue,there you will see this picture all around the wall of temple.These picture tells us the history of Meenkshi temple but only draw back is this things are written in Tamil language,you need translator to understand these things.Anyways the pictures are carved nicely atleast we can enjoy that while standing.
Golden Lotus Pond
According to the old history God Indra bathed in this pond in order to purify himself of his sin and worshipped Lord Siva with Golden Lotus flowers picked from this tank.The tank is surrounded by spacious corridors.On th pillars of the northern corridor are figures of 24 poets of the Third Tamil Sangam.Figures of Dananjayan,the merchant who discovered the main shrine in the forest kadambavanam and of Kulesekara Pandyan who built the temple and the city are also seen on two pillars in this corridor.On the walls of the northern and eastern corridors are numerous paintings depicting scenes from Thiruvilayadal Puranam.From the eastern corridor we can see the golden domes over the sanctum sanctorum of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar.The verses of Thirukkural are inscribed on marble slabs embedded in the wall of the southern corridor.
In keeping with the boons granted by the Lord to a stork, upto this date no fish nor other life is found in this miraculous sacred pond. Since this theertam was created before all other theerthams it is called Adhi Theertham and because it is much greater importance than all other theerthams, it is also called Parama Theertham as Gnana Theertham because it confers prosperity on all who bathe in it. As it grants heavenly abode it is also called Mukthi Theertham and as Sivaganga because the water from Ganga from the head of Lord Siva confluences with it and as Uthama Theertham because of its purity than any other theertham..
If the devotees bathe in the waters of this pond of Golden Lotus on Amavasya (new moon) day, the first day of the month, days of eclipse and other auspicious days and worship the Lord, they will be blessed with all their aspirations for success.(but if u see there is no water so doubt of this statement what i have heard)
Meenakshi Nayakar Mandapam
Crossing the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam we come to the extensive Meenakshi Nayakar Mandapam named after its builder.At the western end of this Mandapam is the massive Thiruvatchi containing 1008 brass oil lamps.
Mudali Pillai Mandapam
nxt is this mandapam.The images of Muruga and Vinayaka and that of Kadanthal Mudaliar who build this mandapam are also admirable monolithic pieces of art.
This is the place from where we started for temple.Actually we entered at west gate but went around and according to the official website some procedure is given for worship and what are the steps to be followed by any hindus.Actually I didnt knew it before going but sometimes it happens that those who are good with religion procedure they will guide you if u are doing sth, which should not to be done.
So always try enter from Eastern gate.This temple has gate on all four direction,so even you are entering from any other gate u should start from here.
Suppose you get out of the temple at noon when the sun god is at its glorious best , there is no question of walking bare foot. You can queue up for a battery driven car which will drive you around the temple and deposit you where you came from. There are 4 gates and is easy to lose your way.
There is another underground stone building with many pillars which look like a temple .This is where you can see people selling various types of clothes and tailors who get it stitched for you with in a day .They also have clothe bags and shawls.
look at the roof!!
Where in the world can you set shop under such exotic sorroundings?!!!
Opposite the southern gate there is an under ground stone pillared huge area . there are people who specializes in iron casting, brass workers and metal workers .From here you can buy cooking utensils lamps and brass curios
Inside the temple there are rows and rows of stores selling bangles statues and other curios.The number of shops have dwindled . When you are busy buying glass bangles look around this is part of the temple and has pillars with exquisite carvings all around.