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Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Meenakshi Temple Overview

Meenakshi Temple Tamil Nadu : Madurai, situated in southern Tamil Nadu, is a district with its headquarters in Madurai city, on the banks of Vaigai river. Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. It is more than 2,500 year old and is an important cultural and commercial centre, Madurai, once the seat of Tamil learning and still the place where Tamil Language is spoken in its purest form, is an ancient city planned in the shape of a lotus. Madurai is synonymous with the Sri Meenakshi Temple, dedicated to Sir Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Shiva. The temple complex, the main attraction at Madurai, is one of the biggest in India. The five gopurams that surround the temple are know for stucco work, and the 48.8 metre high southern gopuram is the tallest. Legend has it that when the last Tamil Sangam (Academy) met here, literary works were thrown into the temple tank. Those that floated were deemed to be outstanding literature, It is believed that the Kadasma tree under which Lord Shiva meditated was the only one that covered this area, Exquisite sculptures are to be found throughout the complex. The hall of thousand pillars is a museum of icons, photographs and illustrations. Apart from being a very sacred spot for the Hindus, the Meenakshi temple is one of the country's most important tourist landmarks. According to the legend, Madurai is the actual site where the wedding between Shiva and his consort Meenakshi took place. The soaring and exquisitely carved gopurams or towers, seen over and over again as the Cosmic Personae, enclose this temple dedicated to the wife of Shiva. The south gateway contains the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi and is about nine storeys high (150 feet). The highly dense statuary of the south Indian temple is an evidence of how evolved Dravidian art was at that time. The gigantic temple complex, the colossal statues exploring the range of human emotions, everything here is a larger-than-life exposition of the splendor of Indian art. The grandeur of the Meenakshi temple has not diminished for the past two thousand years. This sprawling and awe-inspiring temple complex is not only a marvel of architecture but also a veritable treasure trove of Indian culture and civilization. It is also one of the largest temple complexes in India. THE HISTORY The history of Tamil Nadu dates back to the time, the Dravidians had moved south, following the advent of Aryans in the north. Historically, South India consisted of four main Dravidian Kingdoms, the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas (who ruled over what is now Tamil Nadu) and the Chalukyas. The Muslim invasion of the South in the 14th century, caused a retaliatory reaction from the Hindus, who rallied to build a strong new kingdom, with its capital at Vijaynagar. On independence, the Madras province, as the south was known then, was divided on a linguistic basis into states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. A mutual exchange of certain areas between Kerala and Tamil Nadu (Malabar and Kasargod to Kerala; Shencotta and Kanyakumari from Kerala) was undertaken according to the State Reorganization Act, following which Madras adopted a new name, Tamil Nadu.

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