The City Of Palaces
|State||: Tamil Nadu|
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage|
|Area||: 51.82 sq. km|
|Population||: 928,869 (As per Indian census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 8 meters (26 ft)|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Clothing recommended||: Comfy cotton in summer, warm woolen in winter.|
|Languages spoken||:Tamil, Saurashtra, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu, Kannada, Hindi, English|
|What to buy||: Cotton, Silk, Batik and Sungundi Saris, Handicraft Items, Artifacts, Religious Idols, Lamps, Religious Books.|
|Food Specialties||: Paruthi Paal, Panangkarkandu Paal, Pongal, Jigarthanda, Chettinadu, Kuzhi Paniyaram, Appam, Kotthu Parotta, and all other South Indian food items like Idly, Sambhar, Medu Vada, Dosa, etc|
|Local transportation||: Cycle Rickshaws, Auto Rickshaws, Taxis, Buses.|
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’.
History Of Madurai
Madurai is one of the oldest cities in the world that have been continuously inhabited. The history of Madurai is dated back to the Pre Christian Sangam period. It is said that this vicinity was formerly known as ‘Kadambavanam’ where Lord Indra used to worship a Swayambhu Lingam of Lord Shiva. A local farmer discovered This Lingam and reported the event in the court of King Kulasekarar Pandya. The king ordered to construct a temple around the Lingam and later, the city Madurai was established surrounding the temple in the shape of Lotus.
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The fundamental literary attestation of the name of this city is detected in the travel diaries of Megasthenes, who visited Madurai (Methora) in 3rd century BC. Moreover, Kautilya's Arthashastra, Silapathikaram, Sangam literature (Maturaikk?ńci), the works of Roman historians Ptolemy and Pliny, Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, works of Greek geographer Strabo, etc are some of the authoritative classical records where the name ‘Madurai’ can be found.
After the descent of Sangam age, Madurai was ruled by the Kalabhras Kings, who were later overpowered by the kings of Pandya dynasty in 6th century CE. In 9th century Chola kings took over who reined Madurai till the early 13th century AD. The sovereignty was regained by Pandya kings in 1223, and then the golden age of all round development of Madurai began. A century later in 1323, Pandya Kingdom lost its independence and it was made a province of the Delhi Empire.
In 1371 AD, Vijayanagar dynasty of Hampi conquered Madurai and appointed Nayakas, the feudatories of Vijayanagar kings, to manage and maintain the governance. With the death of Krishna Deva Raya, the Emperor of Vijayanagar Kingdom, Nayakas revolted and in 1530 AD declared themselves free. The King Thirumalai Nayaka contributed significantly in the growth and enrichment of the city, especially in architectural aspects. During the colonization, ‘George Procter’ was appointed the first collector of Madurai by British East India Company. After Independence, Madurai was integrated in the state of Tamil Nadu.