One of the largest temple complexes in India, Sri Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple is the most famous spiritual site in Madurai. An excellent example of Dravidian architecture, the temple is sprawled over a huge area, bordered by well-laid gardens and pristine fountains. Two shrines, more than 10 gateways or gopurams, several mandapas (halls) and a giant pool, make up the structure of the temple, which is adorned with beautiful carvings inside and outside. One of the halls of the temple is famous as the "Hall of a 1,000 pillars" though only 985 of them exist today. It is said that whichever direction you view these pillars from, they always seem to be in a straight line. The highlight of the temple is the outermost corridor that comprises musical pillars. These produce different musical notes when tapped. While one of the sanctorums, Sundareswarar, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the other is devoted to Goddess Meenakshi, his consort.


One of the best parts of the complex is Ashta Sakthi Mandapa, which is a huge structure with an impressive ceiling in a hemisphere shape. Made of exquisite bas-reliefs, the mandapa has been dedicated to the marriage of Lord Somasundara (a form of Lord Shiva) and Goddess Meenakshi. The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam is another attractive feature that is made of 110 stone columns, which are adorned with intricate carvings of an animal with an elephant's head and a lion's body. Tourists can also head to the Potramaraukulam or Golden Lotus Tank, which is an ancient waterfront where devotees take a holy bath. The tank is surrounded by corridors called Chitra Mandapas, which boast sculptures featuring the divine sports of the god.

The temple lights up every year during the months of April and May when its most important festival- the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam or the divine marriage of Goddess Meenakshi is celebrated with great fervour.

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