When I was younger, I went to extra classes in my spare time to study Tamil language. Both my parents teached me to read and write Tamil, and later I began to the classes to get more knowleadge about the Tamil history and litterature. During these classes I came across a chapter about the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai and its great architecture, which was so interesting to me, that I was very eager to visit the temple, when we went to India in 2010. The temple is actually much bigger than I expected, and I loved being around the space. What a beautiful temple it is! 😉
The earliest mentions of the temple goes back to Tamil Sangam litterature from the 6th century CE. It is dedicated to Goddess Parvathi in her form as Meenakshi. The temple has historic roots, but the present structure is from the 14th century CE. Due to the Islamic invasions in the late 13th and in the 14th century, many temples in India were destroyed and raided, including the Meenakshi Temple. Later in the 14th century the temple was reconstructed by the Vijayanagara rulers, the present structure of the temple.
The temple has numerous mandapams (halls), including the Aayirankaal Mandapam (Hall of Thousand Pillars) that is very famous for its beautiful architecture and pillars. Also the 7 musical pillars are very famous, and they were actually the main reason for my desire to see the temple IRL. The Aayirankal Mandapam includes 2 musical pillars, and outside the hall there are 5 other musical pillars. Each pillar produces a musical note when struck – but today these pillars are protected due to damage that can occur when you struck at them.
The temple is also famous for its beautiful gopurams (temple towers), and there are 14 of them. Each gopuram has its own history, which is so incredible to read! You can really do a big research on this temple’s history, which I’m not going to write about, as it’ll be too long to read 😛
If you are in India/Tamil Nadu, you should really go and visit this incredibly beautiful temple! 😉