State : Tamilnadu
Madurai, probably over 2500 years old, is the oldest city in Tamil
Nadu. Its origin and name emerge from a misty and lovely legend.
In a forest near a lotus pond, Indra, King of Gods, Worshipped Lord
Siva as a Swayambu Lingam. At this hallowed spot, the Pandyan monarch
Kulasekhara built a great temple and clearing the forest, he created
a lotus- shaped city around the temple. On the day the city was
to be named, Lord Siva appeared at the ceremony. As he blessed the
land and its people, divine nectar (Mathuram) was showered on the
city from his matted locks.
The city was henceforth known as Madhurapuri. Madhurapuri grew and
prospered to become the capital of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is referred
to in the Ramayana and Kautily's Arthashastra. Megasthenes (302
BC), pliny (77AD) and Ptolemy (140 AD) wrote of "Madura, the
kingdom of the Pandian". Macro polo visited Madurai in 1293
AD and lbn Batuta in 1333 AD. Madurai lies on the banks of the River
Vaigai. The temple and the old city are on the southern bank, while
modern Madurai with its textile mills, engineering industries and
large university sprawls around.
History of Madurai
It was a fall from eternal glory to deep abyss for Madurai when
the Tamil Kingdoms disintegrated, and its wealth was plundered by
the ravaging armies of Delhi's Muslim rulers. In 1311, it was raided
by Malik Kafur, the general of Alauddin Khilji of Delhi. In 1371,
the Muslim rule of Madurai was put to an end by the Vijayanagar
rulers who annexed the city to their Kingdom. . The Governors appointed
to rule Madurai were called Nayaks or Naiks, and it was during their
rule that the city regained some of its past glory. When the Vijayanagar
empire collapsed in 1565, the Nayaks proclaimed themselves rulers
of the territories they governed. According to a different theory,
the name Madurai is actually a transformation of the Tamil word
"Marudhai", which means a fertile agricultural land with
alluvial soil. Many natives continue to refer to the city as Marudhai.
According to some legends, Madurai is the actual site where the
wedding between Shiva and Meenakshi took place
Place to See
Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple
Just one Kilometer distance from Bus stand. The Temple is dedicated
to Meenakshi, the lovely consort of Lord Shiva. The original temple
was built by Kulasekara Pandiya, but the entire credit for making
the temple as splendid as it is today goes to the Nayaks. The Nayaks
ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century and left a majestic
imprint of their rule in the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. There
are 12 temple towers (Gopurams). The outer towers are the landmarks
Thirumalai Nayak Palace
The palace is located just one kilometre away from the Meenakshi
temple. This palace was built by Thirumalai Nayak in 1523 A.D. The
Indo-Saracenic styled palace has granite pillars cased with mortar
and supporting arches that present a fascinating view. Major attraction
of this palace is the Swarga Vilasam or the audience hall, which
has 70 ft high dome.
The old palace of Rani Mangammal, now contains memorabilia of Mahatama
Gandhi. The museum houses a picture gallery, a library and an exhibit
of South Indian handicrafts and village industries. Gandhi museum
is open on all weekdays except Wednesdays.
Mariamaman Teppakkulam Tank
Built in 1646 by Thirumalai Nayak, the tank is also known as Theppakula
Tank. This tank is connected to the river Vagai by underground channels.
A mandapam enshrining Lord Vigneshwara stands at the centre of the
tank. The popular float festival of the Meenakshi Amman Temple is
held here during January/ February on a full moon night.
Koodal Azhagar Temple
This is the temple of Lord Vishnu who is called as Koodal Azhagar
in Madurai. Tall gopurams of this temple are absent, but the base
has excellent carvings. There are three sanctums in the temple where
the deities can be seen in sitting, standing and recumbent postures
one above the other.
How to Reach
: Madurai is well connected by air to Chennai,
Mumbai, Bangalore, Tiruchirapalli and Calicut.
: Madurai is also well connected by rail
to all the major towns in South India. Madurai has direct rail connections
to Bangalore, Coimbatore, Kollam, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Thanjavur,
Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, Tirupathi and Tuticorin.
: There are excellent roads which connect
Madurai to all parts of South India.