The Goddess Parvati came to earth as Meenakshi and was once again wed to lord Shiva under the auspices of Lord Vishnu himself. The Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is one of the oldest temples of medieval era in India and had been built by the prosperous Nayak Dynasty. Music had always been an integral part of Indian culture and in The Nayak Dynasty the music and dance forms of Madurai came to the forefront.
The Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to the goddess of Music and Dance and hence has many structures which portray many of the beautiful and intricate forms in South India. Many Carnatic forms of the later eras were inspired by the depictions in Meenakshi temple.
The Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, Madurai is a part of the famous Meenakshi Temple and is by far the most popular tourist destination in all of Tamil Nadu. This generates immense revenue for the government and creates job opportunities for the weaker classes.
I witnessed a blooming tourism industry around the temple which is completely centred around and dependent of it. The Aayiram Kaal Mandapam is a unique monument and nothing else in the world is comparable to this beautiful building. The temple is also called the Temple of a Thousand Pillars and was built in the year 1579.
The 500 year rich history of the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam presented a great learning opportunity for my children and I and I could teach them a lot about art, culture and traditions of Madurai when they could see it all with their eyes. This I believe is the best way to learn. The actual thousand pillars are no longer accessible to the general public because years of aging and over use have deteriorated them.
The pillars could each produce a uniquely different musical note and in fact it is considered that all of the world’s music originated from the notes generated by these thousand pillars at the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, Madurai.
Finally we enjoyed a beautiful lunch which was filled with eth traditional flavours of Madurai at a nearby hotel. It was an entirely new experience for us in Madurai. Nowhere else in the city had we tasted such authentic cuisine as we did close to the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam.