PILLARS of sound

Walking through the temple town of Madurai, Rasa and her classmates discover beautifully sculpted musical pillars and more.

November 27, 2014 04:03 pm | Updated 04:03 pm IST

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

In the precincts of the Madurai Meenakshi temple, the group of children and teachers led by Shyamala Miss reached the magnificent 1000-pillared mandapam .

“Children, did you know that this great temple, was recognised as a world wonder in the year 1991? Let me now tell you some facts about this city and the temple before we go into its musical importance. Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, and lies 300 miles south of Chennai. The temple itself is an architectural wonder and if you climb on the South Tower, you can see the entire city of Madurai.”

“Miss, I have heard my mother say that in this city you will not get permission to build a structure taller than the Gopuram ,” said Rasa.


“Quite right, dear. The temple occupies 14 acres and has 12 towers, big and small. The tallest of the four Gopurams , is the South Tower, which is 161 foot or 52 metres tall. The temple is in the centre of the town, and the streets are arranged in squares within squares, beautifully planned.”

“Wow! How beautiful,” said Mukund. By then, the small group had reached the mandapam .

“This 1000-pillared hall now has 985 pillars. Each pillar is in a different style and has a different statue. It will take a long time for a person to study all the pillars. Each of them has a story to tell,” said Shyamala Miss.

“Hey, look here. There is a Kurathi complete with four of her children,” shouted Laya in glee.

“Even her basket looks so original,” marvelled Rasa.

“Yes children, there are also a lot of mythological stories and events from the past carved on these beautiful pillars,” said the teacher.

“This statue emits a musical sound!” shouted Mukund, and all the children flocked to the pillar.

“This is a statue of Rathi on a swan, and yes, this is a musical stone too,” smiled Miss Shyamala. There was a lot of excitement as they tapped the statue in different spots to hear the sound. As they went from one to another, they were mesmerised by the perfection and detailing of the sculptures, like the Yali Mugham , Purusha Mirugham , the five-headed snake and so on.

They walked over to the next corridor, as Shyamala Miss said you could see 33,000 statues on the towers and inside this temple. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

(To be continued…)

Game: Inside the temple

Cross out every alternate box starting clockwise from the box coloured red. Now find the hidden word.



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