When I was writing some of my posts from India, I had in mind that I would come home, reflect on my pictures, do some research about some of the more significant places we visited, and then post thorough stories that combined what I saw with history, culture, and other information for your vicarious travel pleasure. And so I got home, got busy with school, still haven’t really organized all of the pictures, and just made it from post to post. Thanks Michelle for reminding me what I meant to do – maybe you are getting me back on track. So while I’m posting a few pictures of people I saw near Meenakshi Temple, I’m doing some research and going back over all the pictures I took around and inside the temple itself, and I’ll try to share some of that with you all.

Madurai is a major city in southern India, the southernmost city we visited. Closest to the equator I’ve ever been to. It’s a major city in the state of Tamil Nadu, and the city has been in existence for about 2,500 years. In Madurai’s history, this temple has always been significant. It was a top 30 finalist for the “New Seven Wonders of the World.

Here’s what it looks like as you approach it for the first time.

The towers are gopurams, or gateway towers. Meenakshi Temple has 14 of these gopurams, and most are around 150 to 175 feet tall. Most of the present temple was built in the early 17th century (between 1623 and 1655 A.D.), although the south tower was built in 1559, and the oldest tower was built in 1238. These towers are covered with thousands of painted stone figures of animals, gods, and demons. They are multistoried, and are arranged as gateways to the temple and also to inner parts of the temple complex. Words can’t fully describe the beauty of these towers, and although I have some pictures showing the carvings and figures, they don’t really convey the amazement and awe you feel when you look at them. Here are some closer looks at some of the towers.

I’m going to continue this with more of the things I saw at the temple along with more about the history and significance of this amazing place.