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.
has a rich historical background in the sense that Lord Shiva
himself performed sixty-four wonders called "Thiruvilaiyadals".
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
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. In 1984, the Vast Madurai district was bifurcated
into two districts namely Madurai and Dindugul Districts. Subsequently
in 1997, Madurai district was bifurcated into two districts
namely Madurai and Theni Districts. In Madurai District, there
are 10 State Assembly constituencies and two parliament constituencies.
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.