Southern India – Madurai

Southern India – Madurai

Madurai, India
The Mother of All Temples

We scarcely had time to recover from our eight hour bus ride from Periyar into the town of Madurai in Tamil Nadu state, when we were off to see the most impressive manmade construction in southern India, the Sri Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar Temple. Madurai is one of the oldest cities in south Asia, and was routinely commented by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Temple is massive, with new section continually added over the centuries. The most eyecatching part, though, are the gopuras – the tall, garishly painted temple gates. It is said that there are more than two million statues at the temple – most of them on the gates. The picture at the right shows the gopuras that enclose the temple grounds – you can see how vast it is. And you can see from the pictures below how intricately decorated the gopuras are. They are repainted every 10 years – they are due to be repainted within the next year or so 

 The inside of the temple is equally overwhelming. 15,000 people visit on a typical day, including many pilgrims from across the south. It has no discernable order or layout – just rooms and corridors; shrines to various deities; bazaars selling religious and tourist items; an occasional elephant; statues and painted ceilings; marraige halls…..

   Waiting for a wedding ceremony to begin Row of bazaar shops selling religious and tourist items; in the foreground, a bull statue representing the transport for Shiva, one of the gods A fertility goddess worshiped by women hoping to become pregnant. If your prayers are answered, you are supposed to give a silk sari to the goddess   Not clear if these were tired pilgrims, or homeless who live in the temple Updated technology to let people know when the ceremonies are The godess Kali, in a marathon dance contest with god Shiva. Butter balls are sold to worshipers, who fling them at the dancers to keep them cool.    Kathy being blessed by an elephant (after depositing 10 rupees in his trunk) Scott enjoing the company of one of the goddesses More statues 



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