Archive for the ‘Tamil Nadu Temples’ Category

Brihadeeshwara-Temple

Brihadeeswarar Temple is a famous Shiva temple located on the banks of River Cauvery in Thanjavur district Tamil Nadu, India. Thanjavur is known to have been derived from the word “Tanjan” a demon, who is believed to have been killed in this place by lord Vishnu. Temple is more than 1000-year-old and was built in 1010 AD by Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola 1 and was named as “Rajarajeswaram”. The temple popularly known as “Thanjavur Periya Kovil” was named as Brihadeeswarar Temple by the Marathas and Nayakas who invaded Thanjavur at a later stage. Temple is also known as “Peruvudaiyar Kovil” or “Rajarajeswara Temple” and is one of the largest temple in India and showcases the brilliance of Tamil architecture of the Chola’s period.

The architecture of the temple is what makes it unique when compared to the others. The temple tower also known as “Dakshina Meru” is built by interlocking the stones without using any binding material and is 216 feet high which makes it the tallest towers in the world of its kind.

Temple-Tower

The temple is completely constructed in granite and the octagonal shaped shikara gopuram rests on a single rock weighing 81 tons. The main deity inside the sanctum Brihadeeswar Linga is 3.7 meter in height and is set on a two storied sanctum and the walls are decorated with frescoes, popularly known as Thanjavur paintings.

thanjavur-paintings

The big statue of Nandhi at the entrance is made of a single rock and is 16 feet long and 13 feet in height.

nandi-thanjavur

It is because of this archeological beauty it is declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temple”.

Thanjavur is 190 kms from Madurai and 383 kms from Chennai. Thirucharapalli Airport is the nearest airport, located 65 kms away. Thanjavur city is very well connected by train and buses from all the major cities.

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Meenakshi Amman Temple or Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is dedicated to lord Parvati who is known as Meenakshi and Shiva who is known as Sundareswara. The temple is located in the southern bank of river Vaigai and is situated in  the heart of  the city of  Madurai, Tamil Nadu in South India, covering an area of 17 acres, the entire city being  built around it.

The temple complex has 14 gateway towers called gopurams, ranging from 45-50m in height, the tallest tower being the southern tower, 51.9 metres (162 feet) high along with two golden sculptured vimana gopuram.

All fourteen towers have been segregated   based on the stages they are:

  • 4 Rajagopurams – Nine tier gopurams ranging from 152 feet to 162 feet with carving of mythological stories
  • 1 Seven tier – Chittirai gopuram is about 177 feet in height and contains 730 aesthetic sculptures of exquisite refinement
  • 5 Five tier gopurams above Swami Sannidhi
  • 2 Three tier  gopurams above amma sannidhi
  • 2 Golden gopurams

meenakshi amman, madurai temple, gopuram

The main shrine of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and each of these are surrounded by four minor towers the outer tower is larger and higher as compared to the corresponding inner one. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam (tower over sanctum). The area covered by the shrine of Sundareswarar is exactly one fourth of the area of the temple and that of Meenakshi is one fourth of that of Sundareswara.

Meenakshi temple gold plated VimanamMeenakashi is an avatar of goddess Parvati – the consort of Shiva. The name “Mīnakshi” means fish eyed and is derived from the words “mīna” meaning fish and “akṣi” meaning eyes. The lady goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple and not Sundareswarar (Shiva). As per legend Madurai is the actual place where the wedding of Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient in the world.

madurai meenakshi devi

The sacred temple tank Porthamarai Kulam (“Pond with the golden lotus”) also know as Adhi Theertham, is (50m) by (37m) in size. According to legend, Shiva promised a stork that no fish or other marine life would grow here and thus no marine animals are found in the tank. The huge Golden Lotus in the pond is said to have bloomed for Indra as a wish from Shiva.

golden lotus meenakshi temple

Temple is also famous for many halls, some of the very famous ones are:

  • Kilikoondu Mandapam (“bird cage corridor”) is the hall surrounding the sanctum of the Meenakshi amma
  • Kambatadi Mandapam (“Hall of temple tree”) is the hall with seated Nandi
  • Puthu Mandapam (“new hall”) is constructed by Tirumala Nayak which contains a large number of sculptures
  • Ashta Shakthi Mandapam (“Hall of eight goddess”) is the first hall in the entrance of Meenakshi shrine tower near to East Tower
  • Viravasantharaya Mandapam is a large hall with a huge corridors to the south of the pillared hall
  • The Mangayarkarasi mandapam is a newly built hall situated opposite to the marriage halls and bears the name of saindy queen
  • Mudali Pillai Mandapam or Iruttu Mandapam (Dark hall) is a wide and long hall built by Muthu Pillai during 1613
  • The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam (“Hall of 100 pillars”) has two rows of pillars carved with images of yali (mythological beast with body of lion and head of an elephant), commonly used as the symbol of Nayak power. It is situated to the north of Sundareswarar flag staff hall.
  • Thousand Pillar Hall was built in 1569 with a excellence of the engineering and artistic skill. The pillars in the hall are carved in the Dravidian style, there are 985 halls instead of 1000 pillars.

The most important festival associated with the temple is the “Meenakshi Thirukalyanam” (The divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year.