Of the many attractions that make South India a cultural paradise on earth, Meenakshi Temple is the most iconic and popular one. Located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in Madurai, this Hindu temple is an epitome of classic architecture with murals so gorgeous that it will take your breath away.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi, this temple has become a major tourist spot over the years and is often referred to as the ‘Mathura of South’. But, if you’re still wondering what’s in it for you, believe us the reasons why you must visit & witness the eternal glory of this temple are endless, though are well reflected through its pictures.
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Best Time to Visit Meenakshi Temple in Madurai
The Meenakshi Amman temple is open throughout the year, but it is best to witness its beauty when both the weather and occasion are absolutely ideal for having an impeccable experience. While the summer months in Madurai are hot and humid, the monsoons are pleasant which make July and August a good time for planning your trip. Nevertheless, the months from April to May are great for visiting too, especially if you wish to attend the Chithirai Festival. But, it is from October to March, which marks the perfect time for visiting the glorious temple and taking a tour of the city as the weather stays pleasant throughout the days.
And as far as the temple is concerned, the best time to visit is early in the morning and also in the evening for the night ceremony.
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Mythology About Meenakshi Temple
According to a legend, Meenakshi emerged out of a ‘Yajna’ as a three-year-old girl. A king named Malayadwaja Pandya along with his wife Kanchanamali. The couple was unable to conceive a child and thus offered prayers to Lord Shiva to request him for a son. Instead of Lord Shiva, a triple-breasted girl appeared in front of the couple. While the royal couple were concerned, a divine voice assured them the third breasts of the girl would disappear when she will meet her future husband.
Meenakshi then ruled over Madurai and neighboring kingdoms were also captured by her. The legend also tells us that she also captured Indralok. During her quest to capture Kailash, she was appeared by Lord Shiva and immediately her third breast disappeared; she knew that he was her future husband. Their wedding took place in Madurai and was attended by each and every god and goddess. The wedding ceremony is celebrated even today as ‘Chithirai Thiruvizha’.
Essential Meenakshi Temple Information
- Meenakshi Temple Timings: The temple stays open every day from 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM
- Meenakshi Temple Entrance Fee: There is no entry fee for visiting the temple. However, there is an art museum and its entry ticket costs INR 5 for Indian tourists and INR 50 for foreign tourists if you wish to visit it.
- Darshan Duration: Meenakshi Amman Temple is undoubtedly the most famous tourist attraction in Madurai and there is a possibility that you may spend hours in the queue for visiting the inner sanctums to see the idols of the deities. But, if you wish to skip the line, the temple has special Darshan tickets, which cost INR 50 for seeing the idol of Goddess Meenakshi and INR 100 for seeing both the deities.
- Dress Code For Visiting The Temple: Clothing that covers both your shoulders and legs, and is decent is only permitted. Make sure that you’re not wearing shorts, dresses, lungi,caps, or even socks.
- Valuables Not Allowed Inside the Temple: Umbrellas, sticks, or anything like wallet or belt, which is made of animal skin is strictly prohibited from carrying inside the temple. Also, ensure that you do not carry a camera or your mobile phone as they have been banned in the temple.
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Festivals In Meenakshi Amman Temple
There are many reasons that add to the beauty of the temple, one of which are the different types of festivals that are held throughout the 12 months of the Tamil calendar year. Nevertheless, the temple has only one major festival – Chithirai Thiruvizha or Thirukalyanam Festival, which attracts million of tourists every year in April. If you want to catch a true glimpse of Madurai’s culture and festivity, then this is the best time to visit the temple.
The long festival celebrates the divine union of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Shiva with innumerable legends woven around it, and offers an incredible sneak peek into the Tamilian culture, cuisine, and history. Apart from this main festival, there are also a number of other festivals that are hosted and celebrated in the temple like the Vasantham festival, Unjal festival, Mulai-Kottu festival, Arudhra Dharsan Festival, Thai Utsavam, and more. Each festival has its own significance and is celebrated with much zeal and fervour. If you cannot visit during the summer, another great time to visit the temple is during the Navratri when you can be a part of the Navrathri Festival and witness the colorful dolls called ‘Gollu’ displayed in the temple.
Highlights About The Architecture Of Meenakshi Temple
- Famous as one of the largest temples in South India, the Minakshi-Sundareshwarar Temple has a spectacular architecture with spellbinding murals all around.
- It has 4 Raja gopurams, 2 gold gopurams, 1 Chithirai gopuram, 5 five-floored gopurams and 2 three-floored ones, which are all majestic in appearance.
- The most popular fact about the temple is that it is home to a hall that has a thousand pillars, a sacred pool with a golden lotus where you can take a ritual bath, a wedding hall, innumerable small shrines, gardens, and elephant sheds.
- The temple is so beautifully maintained that it was recognized as the ‘Best Swachh Iconic Place’ in India in 2017 by the Central Government.
Accommodation In Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Being a popular pilgrimage spot and a major tourist attraction, the temple also offers accommodation in the form of three lodges, which can only be booked at the time of the visit. The three lodges have been named as Birla Vishram, Sundareswarar Illam, and Bakthargal Thangum Viduthi, and are situated on the West Chithirai Street.
If you wish to stay in a hotel, some of the decent hotels nearby are Hotel Royal Court, Hotel Nambi, and Moskva Hotel.
How To Reach Meenakshi Temple In Madurai
From Airport: If you’re flying to Madurai from Chennai, it will take you around three hours to reach the temple. After reaching the Madurai Airport, you can easily find a taxi that will drive you to the temple in some 90 minutes.
From Railway Station: A train journey to Madurai will surely be full of majestic sights. Since Madurai is connected well to all the cities, you can board a train till the Madurai Junction Railway Station from where the temple is located only 10 minutes away. You can take an auto rickshaw or a taxi as per your needs and make it to the attraction in no time.
From Mattuthavani Bus Stand: If you’re commuting to Madurai via road by a state or a private bus for visiting the temple, then you can get down at the Mattuthavani Bus Stand from where it will take only 20 minutes to reach the Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple
Important Tips For Visiting The Temple
- Do check the weather in Madurai before you plan your visit to the temple, as you may not be able to explore it comfortably if the temperature is too hot or humid.
- Make sure you go through the important information of Meenakshi Temple for tourists or visitors before you plan to go there.
- Take a look at all the do’s & don’ts and follow them wisely as not following them may hurt the sentiments of the locals or priests.
- Do not carry your camera as photography is prohibited inside the temple now.
- Try visiting the temple early in the morning and not at the peak hours as you may end up wasting a lot of time and energy in the queues.
- If possible, do attend the night ceremony procession, which takes place every day except Friday around 9 :00 PM.
While there are innumerable places to visit in South India, the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is an attraction you absolutely shouldn’t miss visiting during your Tamil Nadu trip. Meenakshi Temple is known for its majestic architecture and glorious beauty which will definitely leave you spellbound!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Meenakshi Temple
Is Meenakshi Temple a Shakti Peeth?
Yes, Meenakshi Temple is one of the primary Shakti Peeth temples. It is the only temple in India having 4 Rajagopuram (towers).
What is Meenakshi temple made of?
Meenakshi temple in Madurai is made from granite, while its towers (gopuram) are made from limestone. It is one of the best places to visit in Madurai.
How old is Meenakshi temple?
Meenakshi temple was reportedly built in the 6th century BC by survivors of Kumari Kandam. Kumari Kandam is a reference to a mythical lost continent which boasted of an ancient Tamil civilisation. It was allegedly located south of India in the present-day Indian Ocean. The temple is dedicated to Parvati, better known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva/Sundareswarar.
What should I wear in Meenakshi temple?
Meenakshi temple has laid down a dress code for its pilgrims that needs to be strictly followed. If you fail to follow it, you will not be permitted entry inside the temple. Male devotees should wear dhotis, formal pants, or pyjamas with a shirt. Women should wear saris or suits. Children should wear fully covered clothes. Make sure your knees and shoulders cannot be seen when you enter the premises of the temple.
What is Meenakshi temple famous for?
Meenakshi temple is famous for its rich historicity and cultural heritage. It is a historic Hindu temple situated on the banks of the ancient Vaigai River, Madurai.
Is photography allowed in Meenakshi temple?
No, cameras are not allowed inside Meenakshi temple. No electrical appliances, including power banks, are allowed inside the premises.
How many towers are there in Meenakshi temple?
There are 12 towers (gopurams) in Meenakshi temple. The outer towers are considered to be landmarks in Madurai, India. They are named as East Tower (nine storeys).