As a kid, I used to visit the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple (also known as the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple) at least once every year. During those visits, the temple and surroundings were never really taken good care of. All the four entrances to the temple used to be very crowded and dirty. During festivals, visiting the temple used to be a pain as the crowds used to be unruly. The temple interiors itself used to be no better. All the pillars and walls used to be grimy and dirty. The temple pond wore a ugly green colour those days.
But, during my recent visit to the Meenakshi temple, I found out that tons of changes had been made and things were really looking great. All four roads (North, South, East and West Entrances) leading to the temple were closed to traffic. People could only walk on these roads. I guess the government finally realized that vehicular pollution can also cause serious damage to this pride of Tamil Nadu. Shops were designated defined areas to sell their merchandise. I hardly saw any mobile hawkers peddling their wares. There were no beggars around the temple, which totally freaked me out as I am so used to seeing beggars in front of all monuments and temples in our country. The ticketing, the footwear collection system, the queue system was all very well defined and implemented. The temple pond was totally clean and dry. The insides of the temple was unbelievably clean. Each pillar and all the walls seemed to have gotten a facelift. The queue system was exemplary. There were no unruly crowds and I got to the main sanctum in 30 minutes flat from the temple main entrance.
I was so happy with these changes that I started appreciating the rich temple architecture, its history and the mythology behind this temple, which I never used to do earlier. The only sad part about this visit was that I wasn’t carrying my camera with me. And after seeing the temple so unbelievably clean, I was so livid with myself that I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera and tripod. To cover this blip of mine, I have mentally decided that I will visit this mighty temple with my photography gear at the next available opportunity.
You too should see the changes in this temple for yourself. If you are interested in visiting this temple when it is all decked up and when it is totally happening, I would recommend that you pay a visit during the Chithirai Thiruvizha festival (April 13/14/15). This also coincides with the Tamil New Year and it is also during these days that lakhs of devotees throng to the Meenakshi Amman Temple to offer their prayers.