It's the glory of Madurai. The sprawling, magnificent Meenakshi Amman Temple around which the city is built. The seven large goparam, or gateway towers, are Madurai's landmarks. Most of the temple is seventeenth century, though some parts of it are up to 500 years older.
Meenakshi - the name means 'fish eyes' - is a form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. It's unusual for her, rather than her better known partner, to be the main temple deity. And every days, thousands throng to offer darshan - to see and so revere her.
The thousand pillar hall is exactly that ... in one corner of the complex, there are stalls selling anything from coconuts and bananas to offer to the deity to silver bangles to cheap plastic toys ... just a few strides away, you find the most exquisite temple art.
And as so often, much of the life of the temple is in the streets surrounding, as devotees gather, undertake rituals and seek blessings (the baby's name, by the way, is Rahul).
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