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India's Meenakshi Temple are an explosion of vibrant shades and 33k sculptures

  • The iconic Meenakshi Temple is located in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu and includes 14 fantastical towers
  • Each rising pillar is adorned with thousands of stone figures of deities, animals and demons - all brightly painted
  • The tallest tower rises to 170ft and attracts around 15,000 visitors a day, who flock to the temple for blessings

By Becky Pemberton For Mailonline

Published: 08:21 EST, 13 October 2015 | Updated: 08:37 EST, 13 October 2015

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There is no missing these colourful temples in India that are painted in every shade of the rainbow. 

Rising up to 170 feet in the air, the 14 towers of the Meenakshi Temple are adorned by an impressive display of around 33,000 sculptures - all accentuated with a riot of bright colours.

Located in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the radiant Hindu site may grab the attention of tourists and pilgrims now, but it didn't always look so vibrant.

Over the rainbow: In the ancient city of Madurai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu lies a series of coloured pyramids that make up the Meenakshi Temple

Grabbing attention: Each is decorated with ornate patterns and sculptured of gods, goddesses, demons and animals

Grabbing attention: Each is decorated with ornate patterns and sculptured of gods, goddesses, demons and animals

The main architecture and artwork of the site took place in the 16th to 18th century but the bright paint was applied recently in honour of festivals and large events

The main architecture and artwork of the site took place in the 16th to 18th century but the bright paint was applied recently in honour of festivals and large events

The thick layers of enamel paint that can be seen today have been applied to the gateway towers, or gopurams, in celebration of big events and festivals over recent years.

Each gopuram forms a pyramid shape, with the stone figures of gods, goddesses, demons and animals covering the multi-storied structures. 

The total site covers a 45 acre patch and includes several shrines to the goddess Meenakshi, a manifestation of the Hindu goddess Parvati — the wife of Lord Shiva. 

In addition to this are figures depicting the tales of battle scenes and sculptures honouring warriors.

The enamel coverings may look captivating, but many fear for the state of the sculptures underneath

The enamel coverings may look captivating, but many fear for the state of the sculptures underneath

During the 200-year reign of Nayakka rulers during the 13th and 16th century, many of the pyramids and artwork were constructed on the temple premises

During the 200-year reign of Nayakka rulers during the 13th and 16th century, many of the pyramids and artwork were constructed on the temple premises

Several restoration projects have taken place in recent years with the intention of restoring the Meenakshi Temple to its original state

Several restoration projects have taken place in recent years with the intention of restoring the Meenakshi Temple to its original state

For now though, the rainbow temple catches the attention of thousands of visitors who flock to the Hindu site for blessings

For now though, the rainbow temple catches the attention of thousands of visitors who flock to the Hindu site for blessings

Between 15,000 and 25,000 people visit Madurai's Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple daily to be blessed in marriage (with the promise of health, wealth and children), to eat (meals are given out to the destitute), sleep, and learn.

The Meenakshi Temple was originally constructed in the sixth century BC, with the main architecture and artwork of the site being created in the 16th to 18th century. 

The application of paint and cement over the fragile ornate sculptures has prompted an awareness for the restoration of the temple to its former - and less coloured - glory. 

The total site covers a 45 acre patch and includes several shrines to the goddess Meenakshi, a manifestation of the Hindu goddess Parvati - the wife of Lord Shiva

The total site covers a 45 acre patch and includes several shrines to the goddess Meenakshi, a manifestation of the Hindu goddess Parvati - the wife of Lord Shiva

Rising up to 170 feet in the air, the 12 adorned towers of the Meenakshi Temple are covered in an impressive display of around 33,000 sculptures - all accentuated with a riot of bright colours

Rising up to 170 feet in the air, the 12 adorned towers of the Meenakshi Temple are covered in an impressive display of around 33,000 sculptures - all accentuated with a riot of bright colours

As darkness falls some of the rising gateway towers, or gopurams, are lit up against the night's sky

As darkness falls some of the rising gateway towers, or gopurams, are lit up against the night's sky

Between 15,000 and 25,000 people visit Madurai's Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple daily to be consecrated in marriage (with the promise of health, wealth and children)

Between 15,000 and 25,000 people visit Madurai's Meenakshi-Sundareshwarar temple daily to be consecrated in marriage (with the promise of health, wealth and children)

The lure of the coloured towers has seen innumerable shops spring up selling flowers, coconuts and pooja items
The lure of the coloured towers has seen innumerable shops spring up selling flowers, coconuts and pooja items

The lure of the coloured towers has seen innumerable shops spring up selling flowers, coconuts and pooja items

Centrepiece: The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500-year-old city of Madurai 

Centrepiece: The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500-year-old city of Madurai 

In order to keep the temple in peak condition, the figures of deities on the tower are repaired, repainted and ritually reconsecrated every 12 years

In order to keep the temple in peak condition, the figures of deities on the tower are repaired, repainted and ritually reconsecrated every 12 years

A holy cow statue in the Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple Hindu, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Parvati

A holy cow statue in the Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple Hindu, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Parvati

In addition to the Hindu gods being honoured on the temples, the site includes figures depicting tales of battle scenes and honouring warriors

In addition to the Hindu gods being honoured on the temples, the site includes figures depicting tales of battle scenes and honouring warriors

It is not just outside that is decorated, as visitors can wander around the temple and see sights like this ornate hall

It is not just outside that is decorated, as visitors can wander around the temple and see sights like this ornate hall

 

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