General view of Pudumandapam from the north-east, near Minakshi Amman Temple [Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple], Madura
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Pudu Mandapam in the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple at Madurai, taken by a photographer of the Archaeological Survey of India around 1899-1900. The temple is one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in India. The ancient city of Madurai was known to the Greeks, and first attained eminence as a seat of the Pandya dynasty, and is described in early Tamil literature. The city has an antique tradition of Shiva-worship, here known as Chokkanatha or Sundareshvara, the divine consort of Minakshi (or Fish-Eyed One), an ancient and powerful local goddess. The earliest temples of the two deities have not survived, and the imposing present structures date from the reign of Tirumala Nayaka, 1623-59, the most illustrious of Madurai's Nayaka rulers (former governors under the Vijayanagara empire) who reconstructed and expanded the complex. This is a view looking down onto the entrance to the Pudu Mandapam, with gopurams or towers of the temple beyond. It was taken from the impressive Raya Gopuram to the east, which was started by Tirumala Nayaka and left unfinished. The Pudu Mandapam is situated outside the complex, in front of the east gopuram. It is a long hall with piers carved with rearing yalis or leogryphs and portrait statues of the Nayaka rulers.