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Madurai, Sri Meenakshi Temple, western and northern gopurams | by Arian Zwegers
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Madurai, Sri Meenakshi Temple, western and northern gopurams

Madurai, Sri Meenakshi Temple, western and northern gopurams

 

Madurai is a major city in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Located on the banks of River Vaigai, Madurai has been a major settlement for two millennia and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city has been ruled, at different times, by the Early Pandyas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Madurai Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Chanda Sahib, Carnatic kingdom, and the British.

 

Meenakshi Amman Temple (also called: Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Tiru-aalavaai and Meenakshi Amman Kovil) is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River. It is dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the city of Madurai and is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature though the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655 CE.

 

The temple houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers), ranging from 45–50m in height. The tallest is the southern tower, 51.9 metres high, and built in 1559. The oldest gopuram is the eastern one, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan during 1216-1238. Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons painted in bright hues. The outer gopuram presents steeply pyramidal tower encrusted with plaster figures, while the inner gopuram serves as the entrance to the inner enclosure of Sundareswarar shrine.

 

The temple has two golden sculptured vimanas, the shrines over the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of the main deities. The temple attracts 15,000 visitors a day, around 25,000 on Fridays, and receives an annual revenue of sixty million Rupees. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple.

 

(source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madurai and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meenakshi_Amman_Temple)

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Taken on December 23, 2011