The history of the Meenakshi temple dates back to the first century AD.C. and scholars claim that it is as old as the city itself. Kulashekarar Pandyan, a king who ruled the Pandyan dynasty, is said to have built the temple according to instructions given in his dream by Lord Shiva. Some religious texts belonging to the first to the fourth century AD.C speak of the temple and describe it as the central structure of the city. Texts dating from the early sixth century describe the temple as a place where scholars met to discuss important issues. However, the temple as it stands today was rebuilt throughout the sixteenth century, as it was destroyed by Muslim invaders.
During the fourteenth century E.C., Malik Kafur, a commander of the Delhi Sultanate, led his army to most of southern India and looted many temples, including the famous Meenakshi Temple. Valuables such as gold, silver and precious gems were brought to Delhi. Since temples in those days had an abundance of valuables, most of the temples were destroyed and left in ruins. When the Vijayanagar Empire seized Madurai after defeating the Muslim Sultanate, the temple was rebuilt and reopened. The temple was further expanded in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by Vishwanatha Nayakar, a king of the Nayaka dynasty. According to the researchers, while rebuilding the temple, the rulers of the Nayaka dynasty followed the architectural style of 'Silpa Shastras'. 'Silpa Shastras' is a set of architectural laws found in ancient texts.
The temple was once again expanded by Thirumalai Nayak, who ruled Madurai from 1623 to 1655. During his reign, many "Mandapams" (aisles with pillars) were built. Later, the temple was expanded by many later rulers of Nayaka before the arrival of the British East India Company. The temple was again degraded and parts of it were destroyed during British rule. In 1959, Tamil Hindus began restoration work by collecting donations and collaborating with historians and engineers. The temple was completely restored in 1995.