Madurai Temple Complex

Trip Start Sep 01, 2009
Trip End Dec 27, 2009

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Flag of India  , Tamil Nadu,
Saturday, December 5, 2009

We arrived late in the afternoon to the city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
We had time for a wonderful meal of spicy lamb, tandoori chicken, and veg Pulao.
They have a ceremony here each evening at the Shree Meenakshi temple. It is an interesting story and has been going on here since the time of the Egyptians. Here is the story , as quoted from the rough guide.
"The goddess Meenakshi of Madurai emerged from the flames of a sacrificial fire, as a three year old child, in answer to the Pandyan King's Malayadvaja's prayer for a son. The King , not only surprised to see a female, was also horrified that she had three breasts. In every respect, she was beautiful, as her name , Meenakshi (Fish-eye" suggests- fish shaped eyes are classic images of desirability in Indian Love Poetry). Dispelling his concern, a mysterious voice told the King that Meenakshi would loose the third breast on meeting her future husband."
"In the absence of a son, the adult Meenakshi succeeded her father as Pandyan monarch. With the aim of world domination, she then embarked on a series of successful battles, culminating in the defeat of Shiva's army at the God's Himalayan abode, Mount Kailash. Shiva then appeared at the battlefield; on seeing him, Meenakshi immediately lost her third breast. Fulfilling the prophecy, Shiva and Meenakshi traveled to Madurai, where they were married. The two then assumed a dual role, firstly as King and Queen of the Pandya Kingdom, with Shiva assuming the sundra Pandya and secondly as the presiding deities of the Madurai temple, into which they subsequently disappeared. "

"Their shrines in Madurai are today the focal point of a hugely popular fertility cult; centered on the god's coupling, temple Priests maintain that it ensures the preservation and regeneration of the universe. Each night, the pair are placed in Sundareshwarar's bedchamber together, but not before Meenakshi's nose ring is carefully removed so that it won't cut her husband's in the heat of passion"
You all follow that? What, you don't believe it? You gotta have faith! Seems plausible to me!  We went to the temple that night to see the nightly coupling of the two statues. Amid more incense than you can imagine, the relic of Meenakski is carried in a silver palanquin through the temple accompanied by a troupe of true believers and a drum and horn troupe. I shot the best I could under the conditions

We had a wild tuk tuk ride through the city streets at night to get back to the hotel.
The next morning we hired a tuk tuk and visited the temple again in the daylight. The temple complex is very unique. These temple make major use of the Gopura towers seen in other Indian temples. There are at least 12 Gopuras here, with four of them reaching heights of 46 meters. Each is covered in a gaily painted stucco figures from Hindu Mythology.

I can't say enough how friendly these people have been to us. It is truly amazing. They are always coming up to say hello, to use their English Language skills. Young girls come up and shyly ask to shake our hands and welcome us here. Families want to take our photos with them, or for us to take their photos. Many of them have family members in the US. At one point, I just set my camera "on"  in movie mode, and hung it from my neck as a line of Indians passed by us. They did not know it was running. It will give you some idea how they relate to us here. It is like being a rock star. You can see it here. It is the last item posted on this entry.


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