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Madurai or Madhurapuri grew and prospered, to become the capital of the Pandayan Kingdom. It is referred to in the Ramayana and Arthashastra of Kautilya.. Megashenes (302 BC), Pliny (77AD) and Ptolemy (140 AD) wrote of Madura, the kingdom of the Pandian. Macro Polo visited Madurai in 1293 AD and Ibn Batuta in 1333 AD. Madurai lies on the banks of the River Vaigai.

The temple and the old city are on the southern bank, while modern Madurai with its textile mills, engineering industries and large university sprawls around Madurai, probably over 2,500 years old, is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu. Its origin and name emerge from a misty and lovely legend. In a forest near a lotus pond, Indra, King of Gods, worshipped Lord Siva as a Swayambu Lingam. At this hallowed spot, the Pandyan monarch Kulasekhara built a great temple and clearing the forest, he created a lotus-shaped city around the temple. On the day the city was to be named, Lord Shiva appeared at the ceremony. As he blessed the land and its people, divine nectar (Mathuram) was showered on the city from his matted locks. The city was henceforth known as Madhurapuri.

Places to See in Madurai :

Meenakshi Temple : An excellent example of Dravidian Architecture, the Meenakshi Temple attracts devotees from all over India and Tourist from all over the world. One can climb to the southern Gopuram of the temple to get a great view of the city.

Koodal Azhaar Temple : One of the most ancient temples in Madurai, Koodal Azhagar temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In this temple he is seen in various postures sitting, standing, reclining one over the other. There are intricate woodcarvings in here, including one of Lord Rama's coronations.

Thirumalai Nayak Palace : This palace is an excellent example of Indo-Sarcenic architecture. It was built in 1523 AD and originally was four times larger than what it is today. The gardens, the defensive wall all have gone and what remains are the main entrance gate, the dancing hall and the main hall. Lord Napier renovated the palace in 1866-72 and later further restoration works were carried on. Today, the main attraction of the palace is light and sound show, which is based on the life of "Tirumalai Nayak" and "Silapathikaram".

Vanditur Mariamman Teppakulam : This huge tank is covers an area equal to the six of Meenakshi temple. Tirumalai Nayak built it in 1646. It is said that channels from the Vaigai River connect the tank. Today, this tank remains empty for most of the year except during the Teppam Festival.

Gandhi Museum : The museum was initially the palace of Rani Mangammal. It gives a clear account of the history of Independence movement of India. This museum also tells some little known facts about Gandhiji but the real piece of Gandhi Memorabilia is the blood stained Dhoti, which he was wearing at the time of his assassination. The local government museum is also situated over here. The small bookshop offers plenty of reading material from Gandhiji's works.

Thirupparankundram : This is one of the abodes of Lord Sundareshwara, a rock cut temple carved out of a mountain, just 8-km from the city.

Azhagar Koil : This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located 18-km northeast of Madurai on a picturesque hilltop. The gold image of Azhagar travels for the Celestial marriage during the Chithirai festival.

How to Reach Madurai :

By Air : Madurai is well-connected by flights from major metros like Chennai and Mumbai.

By Rail : Madurai is well-liked by trains with all the major cities of South India.

By Road : Madurai is well connected by roads with major cities like Chennai, Trichy, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Kodaikanal, Periyar, Palani, Bangalore and Mumbai.



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