Madurai has rightly earned for itself the epithet of being the temple town of Tamil Nadu. Other than the outstanding Meenakshi temple there are several other temples in and around Madurai that are well worth a visit. One of them is the Thiruparankundram Temple, Madurai. Located at a distance of about 8 km to the south of Madurai, the Thiruparankundram Temple is a rock cut temple that is dedicated to Lord Subramanya. The Thiruparankundram Temple, Madurai dates back to the sixth century. It is considered to be one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya or Murugan. These six abodes of the Lord are popularly referred to as Arupadai Veedu. According to legend, the Lord married Deivyani, the daughter of Lord Indra at this place. This is also the site where he worshipped his parents Lord Parangirinathar and Avudainayaki. The antiquity of Thiruparankundram Temple can very well be gauged from the fact that it finds mention even in the Sangam Literature. The Sangam poet Nakkiran has referred to this temple in his songs. Actually the oldest shrine of the Thiruparankundram Temple is the cave temple that is positioned at a height of 1050 feet. The current structure of the Thiruparankundram Temple was constructed in the 8th century A.D. during the reign of the Pandya kings. The saint poets Sundarar and Sambandar and Arunagirinathar have also bestowed a lot of praise on this temple. What is sure to catch your attention immediately after entering the Thiruparankundram Temple are the 48 pillars with elegant carvings. You are sure to be impressed by the sculptural dexterity revealed in the seven tier gopuram. Each of the five cells within the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is dedicated to a particular deity. Some of the gods and goddesses who are worshipped in the shrines of the Thiruparankundram Temple are Murga, Durga, Vinayaka, Vishnu and Shiva Lingam. The images of Brahma, Indra, Surya, Chandra, Sri Devi and Bhoodevi carved on the walls adorn the interiors of the Thiruparankundram Temple. Other noteworthy features of the Thiruparankundram Temple are the Brahmi inscriptions. The exquisite sculptures of Sivathandavam in a dancing posture, his celestial attendant beating a drum and his wife reclining on a bull to witness it are all very impressive. Do not miss out on the other group of sculptures where Nandi is standing along with other sages.
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