Madurai is a
2600 years old historical city surrounded by elegant natural
plantations, technical institutes and textile mills situated in
Tamilnadu, India. Madurai City throbs with many interesting legacies
The city is known for its rich heritage, culture and historical
background in the sense that Lord Shiva himself performed sixty-four
wonders called "Thiruvilaiyadals" in Madurai many centuries ago.
According to historical evidences, Madurai can be traced back to the
3rd century BC. History of Madhurai will take a person to the Sangam
period even before the Christian era. Tamil literature saw its
golden period during the Sangam age and many masterpieces were
produced during this time. Madurai is located on banks of river
Vaigai and was the capital of Pandya kingdom.
Madurai is the busiest commercial center in south Tamilnadu. This
sacred city of south India attracts thousands of pilgrims and
visitors from India and abroad. Legend says, Madurai was once called
Once a merchant named Dhananjaya who was passing through the forest,
saw INDRAN - the king of Gods, worshipping a Swayambhulingam under a
kadamba tree in the forest. This was reported immediately to the
king kulashekara pandyan. Kulashekara cleared the forest and built a
magnificent Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple around the sacred
LINGAM and he built a lotus shaped city around the temple. On the
naming ceremony of the city, Lord Shiva appeared magnificently to
bless the city. The divine nectar (madhu) from the matted locks of
Shiva fell on the blessed city. So, then the city was named "Madhurapuri".
Madurai has reference in the great Indian epics - Ramayana ,
Kautilyas and Arthasastra.
As early as the 302BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai. Great
travel-historians like Pliny (77AD) and Ptolemy (140AD) have made
reference to Madurai in their travelogues. Marcopolo visited Madurai
in 1293AD followed by Ibn Batuta in 1333AD. Later many people from
Rome and Greece visited Madurai and established trade with the
During the 10 century AD, Madurai was captured by Cholas. The Cholas
ruled Madurai from 920 AD till the beginning of the 13th century. In
1223 AD Pandyas regained their kingdom and once again become
prosperous. Pandian Kings patronised Tamil language in a great way.
During their period, many master-pieces were created. "Silapathikaram",
the great epic in Tamil was written based on the story of Kannagi
who burnt Madurai as a result of the injustice caused to her husband
Kovalan. In April 1311, Malik Kafur, the general of Alauddin Khilji
who was then the ruler of Delhi, reached Madurai and raided and
robbed the city for precious stones, jewels, and other rare
treasures. This led to the subsequent raids by other Muslim Sultans.
In 1323, the Pandya kingdom including Madurai became a province of
the Delhi empire, under the Tughlaks.
The 1371, the Vijayanagar dynasty of Hampi captured Madurai and
Madurai became part of the Vijayanagar empire. Kings of this dynasty
were in habit of leaving the captured land to governors called Nayaks. This was done for the efficient management of their empire.
The Nayaks paid fixed amount annually to the Vijayanagar empire.
After the death of Krishna Deva Raya (King of Vijayanagar empire) in
1530 AD, the Nayaks became independent and ruled the territories
under their control. Among Nayaks, Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) was
very popular, even now he is popular among people, since, it was he
who contributed to the creation of many magnificent structures in
and around Madurai. The Raja Gopuram of the Meenakshi Amman Temple,
The Pudu Mandapam and The Thirumalai Nayakar's Palace are living
monuments to his artistic fervor.
Madurai started slipping into the hands of the British's East India
Company. In 1781, British appointed their representatives to look
after Madurai. George Procter was the first collector of Madurai.
In 1801 Madurai was brought under the Madras Presidency by the
British East India Company. In 1837 the fortifications around the
temple were demolished, the moat was drained and the debris was used
to construct the new streets - Veli, Marat and Perumaal Mesthiri
streets, in order to accommodate the growing population. The city
was constituted as a municipality in 1866.
Madurai played a significant role in the Indian independence
movement - it was at Madurai Gandhi made the decision to switch to
wearing a loin cloth after seeing agricultural laborers wearing it.
The independence movement in Madurai was led by leaders like N. M.
R. Subbaraman, Mohammad Ismail Sahib and Meer Niyamatullah Ibrahim
Now after Indian independence, Madurai stands as an important
city that connects the Northern and the Southern Tamil Nadu with 15
State Assembly constituency and two parliament Madurai is one
of the major districts of Tamilnadu State. Madurai is surrounded by
several mountains. It is famous for Jasmine Flowers. Jasmine flowers
are transported to various other cities of India from Madurai.
Kodaikanal is the beautiful hill resort situated near Madurai. The
city is surrounded by three small prominent hills which are called
the Anaimalai, Pasumalai and Nagamalai named after their resemblance
to an Elephant, a Cow and a Snake respectively.
But unlike the other temple cities of Tamil Nadu whose fame relies
heavily on the fabulous contributions of great empires, Madurai,
though undoubtedly known first and foremost for the Meenakshi
temple, is very much modern and progressive city.
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