Must see in Tamil Nadu: the Minakshi Temple in Madurai

A central female Goddess is a scarce phenomenon in Indias Hindu temples. Minakshi, a regional form of Parvati is the main deity of the temple in Madurai, that got its name after her. The temple impresses by numbers: 1000 Pillars hall (there are more in fact), a seemingly endless number of gods, demons and mythical figures at the gopurams at the outside, number of visitors: more than 20 000 daily. The Minakshi temple got its present shape in the 16th century. It became common in South India, to increase the size of the “door-towers” (Gopuram) of the temple in the outer fence and to build the inner sanctuaries in a smaller form. Very much in opposition to the North of India where the tallest parts lie more in the center of the temple area.

Minakshi Amman Temple

Minakshi Amman Temple is not a place of pilgrimage. This is most probably due to the fact that the goddesses Minakshi and Sundareshvara are of southern origin and got included in the Hindu pantheon later as forms of Parvati and Shiva. Also typical south Indian: the many yali figures at the pillar, a chimera (yali, vidala, vyala) that can be lion- horse- or dragonheaded.