Meenakshi Amman Temple, also known as Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple, is one of the oldest and most important temples in India. Located in the city of Madurai, the temple has a great mythological and historical significance. It is believed that Lord Shiva assumed the form of Sundareswarar (the handsome one) and married Parvati (Meenakshi) at the site where the temple is currently located.
The history of Meenakshi Temple dates back to the 1st century C.E with scholars claiming it to be as old as the city itself. It is said that Kulashekarar Pandyan, a king who ruled over the Pandyan dynasty, built the temple as per the instructions given in his dream by Lord Shiva.
A few religious texts that belong to the 1st to 4th century C.E talk about the temple and describe it as the central structure of the city. Texts dating back to the early 6th century, describe the temple as a place where scholars met to discuss important topics. The temple as it stands today, however, was rebuilt throughout the 16th century as it was destroyed by the Muslim invaders.
During the 14th century C.E, Malik Kafur, a commander of Delhi Sultanate, led his army into most parts of southern India and looted many temples including the famed Meenakshi Temple. Valuables, such as gold, silver and precious gems were taken to Delhi. Since temples in those days had abundance of valuables, most of the temples were destroyed and were left in ruins.
When the Vijayanagar Empire took over Madurai after defeating the Muslim Sultanate, the temple was rebuilt and reopened. The temple was further expanded during the late 16th century and early 17th century by Vishwanatha Nayakar, a king of the Nayaka dynasty.
According to researchers, while rebuilding the temple, the rulers of Nayaka dynasty followed the architectural style of ‘Silpa Shastras.’ ‘Silpa Shastras’ are a set of architectural laws found in the ancient texts.
Address: East Chitrai Street, Venmani Road, Sellur, Madurai Main , Madurai, Tamil Nadu, PIN: 625001.
Temple Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Best time to visit: Chitra, Avanimoola, and Masi Mandala festival & Navaratri