History of Madurai

It is narrated in legend that Madurai was originally a forest known as Kadambavanam. One day, a farmer named Dhananjaya who was passing through the forest, saw Indra (The king of the gods), worshipping a swayambhu (self created Lingam ) under kadamba tree. Dhananjaya, the farmer immediately reported this to King Kulasekara Pandya. Kulasekara Pandya cleared the forest and built a temple around the Lingam. A city was soon planned with the temple as its centre. On the day the city was to be named, Lord Shiva is said to have appeared and drops of nectar from his hair fell on the town. So, the place was named Madurai - mathuram meaning "sweetness" in Tamil.

Madurai has a rich historical background in the sense that Lord Shiva himself performed sixty-four wonders called "Thiruvilaiyadals".

As early 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.

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 is surrounded by several mountains. The Madurai city has 3 hills as its city boundary. Yanaimalai, Nagamalai, Pasumalai named after Elephant, Snake and Cow respectively. It is famous for Jasmine Flowers. Jasmine flowers are transported to other cities of India from Madurai.


Major Attractions of Madurai
Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

According to legend, the sacred Suyambulingam discovered by the king of Gods indira at Kadambavanam, was later enshrined by him in Madurai. The fact that the Lord is seen on the vehicle of Indira in this temple is said to be proof for this.

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Madurai Thirumalai Naickar Palace

Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th-century palace erected in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, a king of Madurai's Nayaka dynasty who ruled Madurai from 1623–59. The building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace where the king lived.

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Madurai St Mary's Church

In the early 1840’s, under the guidance of Fr. Joseph Bertrand, A small church called St.Mary’s was built. It was a stones throw away from the Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, Which was erected two centuries earlier. At that time, the church & the city were separated by a wall.

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Madurai Alagar Temple

Located 21 kms northwest of Madurai is a Vishnu Temple on a picturesque wooded hill. Here 'Vishnu' presides as Meenakshi's brother 'Azhgar'. During the Chitrai festival in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi to Sundareswarar is celebrated...

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Madurai Teppakulam

Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is situated at a distance of about 5 km from the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The area of the tank, and the island pavilion with a garden in the center, is approximately equal to the area of Meenakshi Temple.

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Thiruparangundram Murugan Temple

Thirupparamkundram is the first and foremost temple of Lord Muruga (Subramania) in India. Lord Muruga is well known as Karthick in North India. Tirupparankundram is located 5 miles southwest madurai.This is the place where lord Muruga and Devayanai...

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Madurai Gandhi Museum

Gandhi museum was the official residence of the District collectors of madurai for many years. This museum is a great historic tamukkam palace of Rani Mangammal during 1670. Gandhi Memorial Museum has a remarkable collection of Gandhiji's paintings, Sculptures...

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Athisayam Theme Park

Athisayam is an amusement theme park located in Paravai on Madurai - Dindigul National Highway 7, 5 km from Madurai. The park is located on a 70 acres site and features about 40 games and 20 water rides.

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Madurai ECO Park

Madurai Corporation has Developed an ECOLOGICAL PARK at Annamaligai in a modern way so as to attract the Public and Tourist eagerly. Also Madurai has Rajaji Park, Periyar Fort Park, KK Nagar Boat House...

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Samanar Caves

Samanar malai is situated just 12 km west of Madurai. The hill is a big natural cavern in which Jain monks lived 2,000 years ago. A Brahmi inscription is engraved on the `forehead' of the cave & another on the lithic bed which dates back to the 1st Century A.D.

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