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Appropriately acknowledged as ‘The Temple City’, Madurai is acclaimed ubiquitously for the majestic ‘Meenakshi Temple’ dedicated to the Goddess Meenakshi. Also reckoned as ‘Thoongaa Nagaram’, ‘the city that never sleeps’, Madurai is one of the oldest cities in the world that have been continuously inhabited. The third largest city of Tamil Nadu and the headquarters of Madurai district, this city is famous for its Dravidian Style architecture. Madurai, the emblem of 2500 years old affluent Tamil culture, is a preeminent pilgrim site in India.
Situated on the banks of the river ‘Vaigai’, Madurai served as the capital of ancient Pandya Empire. During the governance of Pandya Kings, from 550 AD Madurai was one of the foremost trade laureates in south. The celebrated Pandya King: ‘Kulasekarar’ built the magnificent Meenakshi Temple and also set up the city ‘Madurai’ encompassing the temple in the lotus shape. The city of Madurai holds a fabulous mythical background behind its creation. It is asserted that the day when this city was to be christened, people invoked Lord Shiva. He arrived to bless this city when Madhu i.e. nectar spilled out of his locks. To mark this divine event, the city was named Madhurapuri, which gradually became Madurai because of its Apabhramsa.
Renowned far and wide for the cultivation of jasmine flowers, Madurai has grabbed another feather for its hat; ‘Malligai Maanagar’, meaning, ‘the city of jasmine’. Due to its rich historical, cultural and literary endowment, this lotus city is also called ‘the Athens of the East’. Tamil language is spoken in its purest form here and Madurai is also the home to the widely reckoned ‘Madurai Kamaraj University’.