Travelogue: The Grace at Meenakshi temple – 1

The Gear Box of my Hyundai i20 gave away and the gentle folks at Trident Hyundai promised a delivery within 2 weeks and our vacation happened to fall bang in the middle of those two weeks period. Left with no choice, we fell back on our Santro which had already clocked close to 80K. Servicing done, the vehicle was still making strange noises and the A/C was just not effective. Despite that, we took the name of Ganesha and set forth to Madurai – our first halt on the 6 day drive through TN, Kerala and Karnataka.

The benchmark of a good highway for us is the NH7, Bangalore – Hyderabad road, the NH7 going down to Madurai, Kanyakumari just doesn’t measure up. We took about 7 hours to drive into Madurai – left Bangalore at about 1 and reached Madurai at about 8PM – and checked into the hotel and stepped right out to the Meenakshi Devi temple to have the Darshan. We wanted to have a quick Darshan and come back early next day morning for a more longer tour of the Temple.

As we entered from the West Gate, a local guide stopped us and dissuaded us from going for the Darshan and he pointed out to the long queue which had meandered all the way from the North Gate towards the Western Gate. It was VijayaDashmi and we did expect the crowd. Despite the warning, we took a walk around the outer circumference, had the Darshan of Ganapathi on the Eastern side of the temple and walked in from the Eastern Gate towards the Devi temple. Just as were standing near the entrance of the Devi temple, someone just came and waved us all in – straight into the sanctum sanctorum and we had an awesome Darshan of the Devi. This was unbelievable, a while back we had resigned ourselves to coming back the next day morning and within a moment someone waves us all in.

Having attended the Navaratri celebrations in the presence of Gurudev at ashram, the darshan of the Devi, and the way it happened, despite the teeming crowd was nothing short of Grace. We were overwhelmed with joy!

Tidbits:

  • The temple is beautiful.
  • The maintenance though leaves a lot to desired and the way the Administration has put marble flooring in the 1000 pillar hall is a shame.
  • Lot of murals, depictions on the temple walls, but all the signage and wordings are in Tamil.
  • If you don’t know Tamil, you will be at a loss.
  • Wondering if it is hard for the Administration to put bi-lingual signs and/or provide Audio systems in multiple language for visitors?
  • There are shops within the temple complex and I think it may better serve the temple, if they are all moved outside the temple.
  • Less said about the town the better – dirty and stinks.
  • TN is currently reeling under a massive power shortage, the power cut in Madurai was upto 18 hours a day. We got lucky since there was no power cut on account of VijayaDashmi.
  • The folks though are warm and very helpful more than making up for the state of affairs in the town.
  • Do not miss the food and tea/coffee at Sabarees
  • Did not encounter a single beggar near the temple or in the town.
  • Meena had a word for all she encountered with – and while leaving she would put on a big smile and say “Poitu Varen” in Tamil and the folks just couldn’t help give a big smile back. It was as if she made their day!
  • Lastly, this temple is out of bounds for non Hindus and this is a real shame. The Sanatana Dharma is all inclusive and to see a temple prohibiting someone’s entry just on the basis of religion defies the premise of Sanatana Dharma.
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