2005 CHARNWOOD ARTS
and KALA KAHANI
All photos by © Claude Renault. Graphic Design and website by GATAFUNHO
Madurai: Woman Praying
A woman praying to the monkey god Hanuman inside the magnificent Meenakshi
temple in Madurai. The enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known
here as Sundareshvara and his consort Parvati, or Meenakshi. The original temple
was built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the entire credit for making it as splendid
as it is today goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled Madurai from the 16th to
the 18th century and left a majestic imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi
- Sundareswarar Temple.
The temple complex is within a high-walled enclosure, at the core of which are
the two sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara, surrounded by a number of
smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. The 12 gopurams are especially impressive.
Their soaring towers rise from solid granite bases, and are covered with stucco
figures of deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in vivid colours.