South India's great temple towns, Madurai is synonymous
with the celebrated Meenakshi Temple. Situated
on the banks of river Vaigai, Madurai has a rich
cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil
era more than 2500 years old. Madurai was an important
cultural and commercial centre even as early as
550 AD. It was the capital city for the great
King Kulasekarar built a great temple and created
a lotus shaped city around the temple. On the
day the city was to be named, as Lord shiva blessed
the land and its people, divine nectar (Madhu)
was showered on the city from his matted locks.
This city was henceforth known as Madhurapuri.
Madurai is famous for Jasmine Flowers.
is one of the oldest cities of India, with a history
dating all the way back to the Sangam period of
the pre Christian era. The glory of Madurai returned
in a diminished form in the earlier part of this
millennium; it later on came under the rule of
the Vijayanagar kingdom after its ransack by the
ravaging armies of Delhi (Malik Kafur). During
the 16th and 18th centuries, Madurai was ruled
by the Nayak Emperors, the foremost of whom was
Tirumalai Nayakar. The Sangam period poet Nakkeerar
is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal
episodes of Sundareswarar - that are enacted as
a part of temple festival traditions even today.
age or the Golden age of Tamil literature –
produced masterpieces way back in the Pre christian
era and in early 1st millennium . Madurai was
the seat of the Tamil Sangam or Academy of learning.
The entire city of Madurai, is built around the
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple – the temple
par excellence. Concentric rectangular streets
surround the temple, symbolizing the structure
of the cosmos.
as the 3rd century BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai.
Later many people from Rome and Greece visited
Madurai and established trade with the Pandya
kings. Madurai flourished till 10th century AD
when it was captured by Cholas the arch rivals
of the Pandyas.
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
the Vijayanagar dynasty of Hampi captured Madurai
and it 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
India's independence, Madurai is one of the major
districts of Tamilnadu State. Later on Madurai
district was bifurcated into two districts namely
Madurai and Dindugul Districts. In Madurai District,
there are 15 State Assembly constituencies and
two parliament constituencies.
The history of Madurai will not be complete without
mentioning the name of RaniMangammal, the woman
of great skill and sagacity. History does not
provide many instances of ruling queens in Tamil
Nadu. Though it was considered that women were
not suited to succeed the throne of a kingdom,
Rani Mangammmal, however shines in almost solitary
eminence as an able and powerful ruler in Tamil
Madurai is famous for its temples.The Aappudaiyaar
Koyil Tevara Stalam and the Koodalazhagar Divya
Desam are the most important temples one should
rarely miss to go. In the vicinity of Madurai
is Tirupparamkunram, one of the 6 padai veedu
shrines of Murugan (glorified in Madurai Sangam
Nakeerar’s Tirumurugaatruppadai). Also in
the vicinity of Madurai is Alagar Koyil, one of
the prominent Divya Desam shrines of the Sri Vaishnavite