Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple - Introduction

It would be no exaggeration to state that Madurai is a true representation of the cultural ethos of India, and of the grandeur of Indian art. Central to this standing is the sprawling Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.

The plurality of faiths centered around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, the splendour of its festival traditions, the invocation of events from the 1st millennium CE in its festival traditions (as in the enactment of the Tiruvilayadal Puranam), the association with the Golden age of Tamil literature - the Sangam period, the abundance of literature associated with the temple, the wealth of sculpture seen in the temple, the popularity of the temple in terms of the number of visitors etc. contribute to this standing.

The literature of the pre Christian Sangam period speaks of Madurai. The devotional hymns of the Nayanmars venerate Somasundarar - or Aalavaayan of Madurai. The Haalaasya Mahatmyam or the Tiruvilayadal Puranam speak of the various legends associated with Shiva, which still form a part of the festival traditions of this temple.

The most amazing feature of this temple is the fact that it is a living legend, absorbing traditions for over two millennia. In its finished form, it represents the marvelous