Madurai's famous temple for Meenakshi, another name for Siva's consort Parvathi.|
There is a legend of how Meenakshi came to Madurai:
At one time the king performed a sacrifice to Lord Siva's lingam here seeking a child. A beautiful girl with eyes like fish and three breasts sprang from the ritual fire. In a vision Siva told the king that the third breast of the girl would vanish the moment she met her future husband. the child was brought up more as a boy than as a girl and was trained in military skills. She was called Thadhathagai and on her father's death she ascended the throne. After many local victorys she marched to Kailash to duel with Siva. But when she came face to face with him her third breast vanished!
The shrine to Meenkshi in the temple was built in 1227. At that time the Nayak king requested a noted poet Kumaragurubarar (a poet with a very poetic name!) to compose verses in praise of her. When he recited these poems for the king a small girl approached the king, took a pearl necklace from him, gave it to the poet and vanished. She was Meenakshi herself, thanking him for the poems!
The Dravidian gopurams (gate towers) and other architectural structures of Sri Meenakshi were built between the 12th to 18th centuries.