We Visited Madurai in December to make best of the winter and avoid the heat and humidity of the South. It turned out to be a wise choice!! We visited Meenakshi(Amman) Temple and Tirumala Nayak Palace- the two most often visited structures in the town.The town is roughly built around the Meenakshi temple following the traditional "Silpa-Sastra" rules.

Madurai
Madurai

The Temple is home to(Parvati) Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswar. We entered the temple through the North tower.

The Street had Handloom saree outlets on either side.All through the temple tour I kept reminding myself not to miss stopping at them and the visit was worth it with beautiful weaves to choose from.As we entered the temple complex the audacity of the stone sculptures and the scale of the temple completely bowled us over.It was poetry in stone! The beauty of it marred by unseemly nails and bags of the several shop keepers within the temple complex,made us question why and how we can be completely indifferent to the majesty of the temple’s history & value. At the outer courtyard the temple elephant blessed children,who were just so eager and excited to see it handle tiny coins & big banana clusters with equal ease.

The temple pillars had flower motifs and interestingly some Vaishnavite motifs despite being a saivite Sculpture.The painted ceilings and huge stone thresholds are just awe inspiring.

Cameras were strictly not allowed inside the temple and we took pictures with our Phones and no number of photographs can do justice to the beauty and precision art of the stone sculptures.Huge temple doors, unlabelled stone sculptures lay here and there all through the complex. The most commonly found theme was the ‘YALI’ the mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of an Elephant, the symbol of Nayak Power.

What struck me was the commonality of Saivite& Vaishnavite symbols-for instance,the parrot which is generally associated with Andaal finds a resting place here on Meenakshi Amman’s right hand.

Most of the paintings in the temple are colored with oil colors.The temple museum has a beautiful collection of metal sculptures.The Vimans of the temples housing the deities of Meenakshi Amman & Lord Sundareswar are covered in gold. So is the dhwaja stambha in Sundareswar temple.

Apart from the religious significance,the temple is a showcase of high art achieved during the Nayak Period.My personal favorites are the Sculptures of Siva and Parvati at Climax of the divine dance competition.Siva is declared the winner as Parvati out of modesty cannot beat the Urdhva Tandava pose.

We stayed at GRT grand. The hotel provided us a chauffeured car and a guided tour of Madurai's architectural must sees and shopping outlets. I would definitely recommend the hotel. The room was spacious. Our son especially enjoyed the buffet spread for breakfast and lunch as it offered both continental and South Indian cuisines. 

After our pitstop on our way back,our baggage increased considerably.We traveled to Madurai from Hyderabad and return with Spice Jet.We found upgrading our seats with all the extra baggage was a better alternative to paying for the additional weight.

Thanks, 
Sree.M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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