Day,1-Meenakshi Temple-Madurai

I have read travel blogs. Tried to understand why people write travel blogs.

Will unravel the reasons over the next few blogs.

I started off with my parents in a spacious vehicle on a warm Monday morning. I was looking forward to driving the vehicle that we had hired. As luck would have it, we had a seasoned driver with us. I took one look at him and did not dare ask him for the car keys. He just wasn’ t the type.

We had a long 7 hour journey head of us and spent the first few hours in a boisterous mood of pleasant banter,…about all and sundry. Like some of my mail conversations,…soon there was nothing to talk about and the mind wandered to the scenery visible through tinted windows. The body eased itself into the most comfortable position given the leg space available and the ergonomics that the seats afforded. This was followed by insidious and pernicious yawns. In a matter of two hours the driver was the only one awake in the van. Given that it was an air conditioned van, the driver was doing a very good job of staying awake.

We reached Madurai in the wee hours of the day and headed straight for the Temple. It was the Sabarimala season and devotees of Swami Ayyappa were everywhere. For the uninitiated, Swami Ayyappa is the union of Shiva (Hari) and Vishnu (Haran). Swami Ayyappan was born like Lord Rama, for the purpose of riddance. Predictably, he performs miracles, kills the villain and grants a boon to his caretaker when he is ready to leave. The caretaker, a King, King Rajasekhara, wants to raise a temple in his memory. This temple on the banks of the river Pampa in Kerala, is thronged by people in the month of January, the Mahasankhranthi.

With these devotees everywhere, we were finding it difficult to park our vehicle. We went around the temple twice even before we had set foot into the temple. We finally found a parking space in a by-lane. It was 8 p.m even before we had entered the temple. I had been to this temple on at-least three other occasions and it was interesting that there was so much that I had missed in all those 3 occasions.

The temple is shaped like a square, with ‘Gopuras’ on all four sides. They surround the main structures of the temple called the ‘Garba-griha’, or Sanctum Sanctorum. A usual feature in most Hindu temples in Tamilnadu is the presence of many smaller deities surrounding the Sanctum Sanctorum. They actually remind me of the posters that we have in the aisles of the new age cinema halls, which keep us occupied during the intermission. The Sanctum Sanctorum is again square shaped. There is no straight line path to the Santum Sanctorum. The visitors/ devotees have to go through some detours to reach the Sanctum Sanctorum. Most temples, this temple included, have a small pool within the confines of the temple or in the adjoining area where visitors/ devotees are supposed to perform ablution before seeking divine grace.

The architecture in the temple is a subject in it’s own right. There is both depth and beauty which needs to be understood and relished. The architecture changes depending upon the specific location of the temple. The architecture is different for the Gopuras. The architecture is different for a aisle. The architecture is different in the Sanctum Sanctorum. One observation which needs to be verified is that the architecture reduces in number and intensity(which needs to be defined) as we approach the sanctum sanctorum. The roof level also reduces as we approach the Sanctum Sanctorum. The level of illumination also reduces as we approach the Sacntum Sanctorum. Most of these temples also have some structure to prevent a glimpse of the deity from outside the temple. The visitor/ devotee has to go through the corridors of the temples and only then be able to gain a glimpse of the deity. A lot of thought has obviously been put, to make the visitor/ devotee realise certain truths. This might take some time.

Every temple has an offering, called prasad which is usually a sweet. It would be worthwhile to realise that sweets are rich in simple sugars to offer a quick boost of energy after a long haul. It is customary that devotees sit down for some time after the ‘Darshan’. It is interesting that visitors/ devotees are offered ‘prasad’ and then asked to rest, after a period of reducing oxygen levels given the constant ‘pujas’ and resultant smoky interiors of the Sanctum Sanctorum. Very interesting.

I sat down for meditation inside the Sanctum Sanctorum. The people within the Sanctum Sanctorum were asking people to avoid lingering for long as there were people waiting outside for ‘Darshan’. Nobody disturbed me given that I was meditating. I was lost, but there. Just like I was taught.

Some more, for the few yet to come.


5 Responses

  1. Holy Moly ! nice write up there … add a few pics … should increase the hit rate …
    happy blogging this year too !

  2. hi,
    i am very happy to say that this temple is one of the most beautiful temple i ever seen. how beauitiful maduri.

    i pray for the blessing of lord meenashi

  3. Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple is the ancient temple in Tamilnadu. Its historical monuments and sculptures are shown the life history of ancient kingdom and people. It is under the seven wonders of the world.

  4. Hi,

    Nice blog up there….. I also have visited Madurai Meenakshi Temple. I rent a car to visit Madurai. site gives best car rental services in Madurai. I rent a car from there and visited Madurai fully.

  5. A truly magnificent temple.

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