The gigantic temple complex is dedicated to lord Shiva, known here as Sundareshvara and his consort Meenakshi or Parvati. The temple was originally built by Kulasekara Pandya, but the entire credit for making the temple as marvelous as it is today belongs to the Nayaks. The Nayaks ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century & left a majestic imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi – Sundareswarar Temple.
As per the history it is said that the temple was plundered in the 14th century by a Muslim raider Malik Kafur who looted the temple valuables. The restoration was undertaken by then Nayak ruler Vishwanatha Nayakar around the 16th century. It was king Vishwanatha Nayak who reconstructed the temple in accordance to shilp-shastra.
The temple complex is build within a high-walled compound, at the core of which are the two main sanctums for Meenakshi and Sundareshwara, surrounded by a number of smaller shrines & grand pillared halls. Especially impressive are the twelve (12) gopuras. Their soaring towers rise from a solid granite bases & are covered with stucco figures of deities, mythical animals & monsters are painted in vivid colours.