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28. Tiru Aalavaai (Madurai)

திரு ஆலவாய் - மதுரை 

Location: Madurai .
(Pandya Naadu)
Shiva: Chokkanathar, Sundareswarar
Ambal: Ankayarkanni, Meenakshi
Theertham: Potramarakkulam
Other: Velli Sabhai - Pancha Sabhai - Madurai Meenakshi Temple
Patikam : Sambandar, Appar
Travel Base:Madurai
Description: The Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is one  of the greatest Shiva temples in India, known for its sprawling landscape filled with sculptural wonders; halls, pillars and lofty towers with lavish artwork in all forms. Madurai is a  vibrant cultural center speaking of the glorious traditions of the region. It is the siite of the 64 Tiruvilayadalgal of Shiva (Tiruvilayadal puranam and Halasyamahatmiyam) and is one of the 5 Pancha Sabhais of Nataraja - Rajata (Velli )Sabhai - where Shiva dances with a raised righ food.  The other dance halls are Chidambaram, Tiruvalankadu, Tirunelveli and Kutralam. In terms of the richness of the legends, the abundance of literature & the stunning architectural& sculptural splendour,Madurai is second to none in representing the rich cultural traditions of India. Madurai is regarded as the 1st of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu.


History: Madurai has been a seat of Tamil culture since very ancient times. Nakkeerar, Appar and Sambandar have sung of its glories. The original temple was razed to the ground by invaders & the current magnificient structure was built by the Nayak Rulers.

Legends: Shiva is said to have been worshipped by Indra in the Kadambavana forest and hence Sundareswarar's vimanam is known as Indra Vimanam. Legend has it that Meenakshi (Parvati) the daughter of Malayadwaja Pandyan married Shiva here. Together, Shiva (Soundara Pandyan) and Meenakshi are said to have ruled over Madurai. There are several legends surrounding this temple.  

Festivals: The Chittirai Tiruvizha (Apr 15-May 15) causes the entire city to take on a festive look; Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are taken in colorful processions; the divine marriage and the coronation are enacted.The float festival here is also of great importance.  


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