Golden Lily Tank [Madurai]
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Golden Lily pool, part of the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple, Madurai, taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Minakshi, an ancient local divinity. The temple complex was largely expanded and renovated by Tirumala Nayak (1623-1659). The rectangular precinct covers 6 hectares and has 11 huge gopurams or towers, the biggest of which mark four entrances from the four cardinal points. In front of the Minakshi shrine is a courtyard containing a large stepped rectangular pool, called the Golden Lily pool. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India' (Marion & Co., London, 1870), edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description, 'One of the first objects shown on entering this temple is the Golden Lotus Tank. It is said to have been formed by a blow from the trident of Shiva, to gratify some deities who were worshipping the sacred Lingum. It was one of the seven things not destroyed by the great flood ... It is regarded as of very great sanctity; the popular belief being that the water is supplied by the Ganges, which passing under the sea for 1000 miles, here reappears to supply this tank'.