#GS1 #Art&Culture #Religion
According to the archaeological experts who looked at the inscriptions found at the temple, the present structure of Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai might have been reconstructed during the rule of Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya (1190-1216 C.E.). This structure was damaged due to unknown reasons and was again renovated in the 13th century during the period of Maravarman Sundarapandyan II.
- Another important finding is that in all the 13th century inscriptions belonging to Pandya period, the name of the presiding god is mentioned as ‘Thiru Alavay Udaiya Nayanar’ and goddess was mentioned as ‘Thirukkamakkottam Udaiya Aludaiya Nacchiyar’.
- It was during the Nayak period when the name ‘Chokkanatha’ for the presiding god was mentioned for the first time. The name of the goddess as ‘Meenakshi’ was mentioned on the engravings of a ‘pavaivilaku’ dated to 1752 CE. The present name of the goddess, Meenakshi Sundareswarar, was first mentioned on the engravings on a Tiruvachi lamp stand dated to 1898 C.E.
- A total of 410 inscriptions found at the temple were copied and published as part of a survey. Among them only 79 inscriptions were in a readable format. As many as 301 inscriptions were fragmented and dislocated during the renovations of the temple.
- Out of the 79 inscriptions, 78 were in Tamil language and one inscription was in Sanskrit language with grantha characters. Among these inscriptions, the earliest one belongs to the Arikesari Parankusa Maravarman period (700 CE).
- Inscriptions of Pandya rulers like Maravarman Sundara Pandya I and II, Jatavarman Sundara Pandya and Madurai Nayak rulers like Thirumalai Nayak and Vijayaranga Chokkanatha Nayak, were also found in the temple. These inscriptions also mention various donations made by the rulers.
About ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple’
- The ancient city of Madurai, more than 2,500 years old, was built by the Pandyan king, Kulashekarar, in the 6th century B.C. He built the main portions of the three-storeyed gopura at the entrance of the temple.
- But the reign of the Nayaks marks the golden period of Madurai when art, architecture and learning flourished expansively. The most beautiful buildings in the city including its most famous landmark, the Meenakshi temple, were built during the Nayak rule.
- Located in the heart of the city of Madurai, the Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, the consort of lord Shiva. For the people of Madurai, the temple is the very centre of their cultural and religious life.
- It is said that the people of the city wake up, not by the call of nature but by the chant of hymns at the temple. All the major festivals of Tamil Nadu are celebrated here with gaiety, most important being the Chitrai festival that is held in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar is celebrated, drawing a huge crowd of people from all over the state.
- The sculpted pillars are adorned with the exquisite murals that celebrate the ethereal beauty of princess Meenakshi and the scenes of her wedding with Lord Shiva. At the Sundareswarar temple across the courtyard, Lord Shiva is represented as a lingam. The pillars depict scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. There are 985 richly carved pillars here and each one surpasses the other in beauty.