Madurai

Madurai temple
Madurai

taxi booking madurai is a major city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District. Madurai is the third largest city in Tamil Nadu, and is the 25th populated city in India. Located on the banks of River Vaigai, Madurai has been a major settlement for two millennia. Madurai has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister flagship Smart Cities Mission.

Madurai is closely associated with the Tamil language, and the third Tamil Sangam, a major congregation of Tamil scholars said to have been held in the city.

The recorded history of the city goes back to the 3rd century BCE, being mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the Maurya empire, and Kautilya, a minister of the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Signs of human settlements and Roman trade links dating back to 300 BC are evident from excavations by Archeological Survey of India in Manalur.

The city is believed to be of significant antiquity and has been ruled, at different times, by the Pandyas, Cholas, Madurai Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Carnatic kingdom, and the British.

The city has a number of historical monuments, with the Meenakshi Amman Temple and Tirumalai Nayak Palace being the most prominent. Madurai is an important industrial and educational hub in South Tamil Nadu. The city is home to various automobile, rubber, chemical and granite manufacturing industries. It has developed as a second-tier city for information technology (IT), and some software companies have opened offices in Madurai.

Madurai has important government educational institutes like the Madurai Medical College, Homeopathic Medical College,Madurai Law College, Agricultural College and Research Institute. Madurai city is administered by a municipal corporation established in 1971 as per the Municipal Corporation Act. Madurai is the second corporation in Tamil Nadu next to Chennai corporation. The city covers an area of 147.97 km2 and had a population of 1,017,865 in 2011. The city is also the seat of a bench of the Madras High Court.

The city is referred by various names including “Madurai”, “Koodal”, “Malligai Maanagar”, “Naan Maada Koodal” and “Thiru Alavai”. The word Madurai may be derived from Madhura (sweetness) arising out of the divine nectar showered on the city by the Hindu god Shiva from his matted hair.Another theory is that Madurai is the derivative of the word Marutham, which refers to the type of landscape of the Sangam age. A town in the neighbouring Dindigul district is called Vada Madurai (North Madurai) and another in Sivagangai district is called Manamadurai. The different names by which the city has been referred to historically are listed in the 7th-century poem Thiruvilayadal puranam written by Paranjothi Munivar.

Koodal means an assembly or congregation of scholarly people, referring to the three Tamil Sangams held at Madurai. Naan Maada Koodal, meaning the junction of four towers, refers to the four major temples for which Madurai was known for.Tevaram, the 7th- or 8th-century Tamil compositions on Shiva by the three prominent Nayanars (Saivites), namely Appar,Sundarar and Thirugnanasambandar,address the city as Thirualavai.As per Iravatham Mahadevan, a 2nd-century BCE Tamil-Brahmi inscription refers to the city as matiray, an Old Tamil word meaning a “walled city” derived from an older Dravidian source.

History
view of city having temple towers seen through two trees
Hand coloured antique wood engraving drawn by W. Purser (1858) shows Madurai city as seen from the north bank of the Vaigai river
Madurai has been inhabited since at least the 3rd century BCE.Megasthenes may have visited Madurai during the 3rd century BCE, with the city referred as “Methora” in his accounts. The view is contested by some scholars who believe “Methora” refers to the north Indian city of Mathura, as it was a large and established city in the Mauryan Empire.Madurai is also mentioned in Kautilya’s (370–283 BCE)Arthashastra.Sangam literature like Maturaikkāñci records the importance of Madurai as a capital city of the Pandyan dynasty. Madurai is mentioned in the works of Roman historians Pliny the Younger (61 – c. 112 CE), Ptolemy (c. 90 – c. CE 168), those of the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BCE – c. 24 CE), and also in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

historic metal coin used for transaction:

Coin of Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan, first ruler of the Sultanate of Madurai, 1335–1339 CE
After the Sangam age, most of present-day Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, came under the rule of the Kalabhra dynasty, which was ousted by the Pandyas around 590 CE.The Pandyas were outsted from Madurai by the Chola dynasty during the early 9th century. The city remained under the control of the Cholas until the early 13th century, when the second Pandyan empire was established with Madurai as its capital. After the death of Kulasekara Pandian (1268–1308 CE), Madurai came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate. The Madurai Sultanate then seceded from Delhi and functioned as an independent kingdom until its gradual annexation by the Vijayanagar Empire in 1378 CE. Madurai became independent from Vijayanagar in 1559 CE under the Nayaks. Nayak rule ended in 1736 CE and Madurai was repeatedly captured several times by Chanda Sahib (1740 – 1754 CE), Arcot Nawab and Muhammed Yusuf Khan (1725 – 1764 CE) in the middle of 18th century.

In 1801, Madurai came under the direct control of the British East India Company and was annexed to the Madras Presidency. The British government made donations to the Meenakshi temple and participated in the Hindu festivals during the early part of their rule. The city evolved as a political and industrial complex through the 19th and 20th centuries to become a district headquarters of a larger Madurai district. In 1837, the fortifications around the temple were demolished by the British. The moat was drained and the debris was used to construct new streets – Veli, Marat and Perumal Mestri streets. The city was constituted as a municipality in 1866 CE. The British government faced initial hiccups during the earlier period of the establishment of municipality in land ceiling and tax collection in Madurai and Dindigul districts under the direct administration of the officers of the government. The city, along with the district, was resurveyed between 1880 and 1885 CE and subsequently, five municipalities were constituted in the two districts and six taluk boards were set up for local administration. Police stations were established in Madurai city, housing the headquarters of the District Superintendent.

It was in Madurai, in 1921, that Mahatma Gandhi, preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India, first adopted the loin cloth as his mode of dress after seeing agricultural labourers wearing it. Leaders of the independence movement in Madurai included N.M.R. Subbaraman and Mohamed Ismail Sahib. The Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act passed by the government of Madras Presidency under C. Rajagopalachari in 1939 removed restrictions prohibiting Shanars and Dalits from entering Hindu temples. The temple entry movement was first led in Madurai Meenakshi temple by independence activist A. Vaidyanatha Iyer in 1939.

Architecture:
Map of city showing main streets in the centre of a city.
Map of Madurai showing centre of the city and some important landmarks
Madurai is built around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which acted as the geographic and ritual centre of the ancient city of Madurai. The city is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular streets around the temple. Vishwanatha Nayak (1529–64 CE), the first Madurai Nayak king, redesigned the city in accordance with the principles laid out by Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: śilpa śāstra, also anglicised as silpa sastra meaning rules of architecture) related to urban planning. These squares retain their traditional names of Aadi, Chithirai, Avani-moola and Masi streets, corresponding to the Tamil month names and also to the festivals associated. The temple prakarams (outer precincts of a temple) and streets accommodate an elaborate festival calendar in which dramatic processions circumambulate the shrines at varying distances from the centre. The temple chariots used in processions are progressively larger in size based on the size of the concentric streets. Ancient Tamil classics record the temple as the centre of the city and the surrounding streets appearing liken a lotus and its petals. The city’s axes were aligned with the four quarters of the compass, and the four gateways of the temple provided access to it. The wealthy and higher echelons of the society were placed in streets close to the temple, while the poorest were placed in the fringe streets. With the advent of British rule during the 19th century, Madurai became the headquarters of a large colonial political complex and an industrial town; with urbanisation, the social hierarchical classes became unified.

 

Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Imperial conversion
Madurai is located at 9.93°N 78.12°E. It has an average elevation of 101 metres. The city of Madurai lies on the flat and fertile plain of the river Vaigai, which runs in the northwest-southeast direction through the city, dividing it into two almost equal halves. The Sirumalai and Nagamalai hills lie to the north and west of Madurai. The land in and around Madurai is utilised largely for agricultural activity, which is fostered by the Periyar Dam. Madurai lies southeast of the western ghats, and the surrounding region occupies the plains of South India and contains several mountain spurs. The soil type in central Madurai is predominantly clay loam, while red loam and black cotton types are widely prevalent in the outer fringes of the city. Paddy is the major crop, followed by pulses, millet, oil seed, cotton and sugarcane.

The municipal corporation of Madurai has an area of 147.97 km2. Madurai is hot and dry for eight months of the year. Cold winds are experienced during February and March as in the neighbouring Dindigul. The hottest months are from March to July. The city experiences a moderate climate from August to October, tempered by heavy rain and thundershowers, and a slightly cooler climate from November to February. Fog and dew are rare, occurring only during the winter season. Being equidistant from mountains and the sea, it experiences similar monsoon pattern with Northeast monsoon and Southwest monsoon, with the former providing more rain during October to December. The average annual rainfall for the Madurai district is about 85.76 cm.

Temperatures during summer generally reach a maximum of 40 °C and a minimum of 26.3 °C, although temperatures up to 42 °C are not uncommon. Winter temperatures range between 29.6 °C and 18 °C. A study based on the data available with the Indian Meteorological Department on Madurai over a period of 62 years indicate rising trend in atmospheric temperature over Madurai city, attributed to urbanisation, growth of vehicles and industrial activity. The maximum temperature of 42 °C for the decade of 2001 – 2010 was recorded in 2004 and in 2010.

Transport in Madurai
Mattuthavani Bus Stand
Madurai Railway junction, the main railway station of Madurai
Madurai Airport

The National Highways NH 7, NH 45B, NH 208 and NH 49 pass through Madurai. The state highways passing through the city are SH-33, SH-72, SH-72A, SH-73 and SH-73A which connect various parts of Madurai district. Madurai is one of the seven circles of the Tamil Nadu State Highway network. Madurai is the headquarters of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Madurai) and provides local and inter-city bus transport across the districts of Madurai, Dindigul, Sivagangai, Theni, Virudhunagar. Madurai has three bus terminals, namely, Mattuthavani Bus Terminus (MIBT) and Arapalayam (for inter city buses) and Periyar Bus stand (for intra city buses). There are 12,754 registered three-wheeled vehicles called auto rickshaws, which are commercially available for renting within the city. In addition to the government operated city buses, there are 236 registered private mini-buses that support local transportation.

Madurai Railway junction:
Madurai Junction is the major railway station serving the city. It is an important railway junction in southern Tamil Nadu and is one of the top 100 booking stations in Indian Railways. It is the headquarters of the Madurai division of the Southern Railway. There are direct trains from connecting Madurai with major cities and towns across India. The state government announced a Mono rail project for Madurai in 2011, which is in planning stages. There are ten other sub urban railway stations serving the city.

Madurai Airport:
Madurai airfield was first used by the Royal Air Force in World War II in 1942. The first passenger flight was a Fokker Friendship aircraft from Madras in 1956. Madurai Airport was established in 1957 and is located at Avaniyapuram, about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the city. The airport was declared a customs airport in 2012 allowing limited number of international flights. It offers domestic flights to some cities in India and international services to Colombo , Dubai and Singapore [SIN}. It is the fourth-busiest airport in the state of Tamil Nadu after Chennai, Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli. The carriers operating from the airport are Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Indigo and Srilankan Airlines . The airport handled 842,300 passengers between April 2015 and March 2016. The airport was identified as one of 35 non-metro airports for modernisation and a new integrated terminal building was inaugurated on 12 September 2010.

Education:
Red coloured two floored historic college building
The American college in Madurai, started in 1881 CE – the oldest college in Madurai
Madurai has been an academic centre of learning for Tamil culture, literature, art, music and dance for centuries. All three assemblies of the Tamil language, the Tamil Sangam (about the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE), were held at Madurai. Tamil poets of different epochs participated in these assemblies, and their compositions are referred to as Sangam literature. During the third Tamil sangam, the comparative merit of the poets was decided by letting the works float in the lotus tank of the temple. It was believed that a divine force would cause the work of superior merit to float on the surface, while the inferior ones would sink.

The American College is the oldest college in Madurai, and was established in 1881 by American Christian missionaries. The Lady Doak college, established in 1948, is the oldest women’s college in Madurai. Thiagarajar College (established in 1949), Madura College (established in 1889), Fatima College (established in 1953), and M.S.S.Wakf Board College (established in 1964) are among the oldest educational institutions of the city. Madurai Kamaraj University (originally called Madurai University), established in 1966, is a state-run university which has 109 affiliated arts and science colleges in Madurai and neighbouring districts. There are 47 approved institutions of the university in and around the city, consisting of autonomous colleges, aided colleges, self-financing colleges, constituent colleges, evening colleges and other approved institutions. There are seven polytechnical schools and five Industrial training institutes (ITIs) in Madurai, with the Government ITI and the Government Polytechnic for Women being the most prominent of them all. There are two government medical institutes in Madurai, Madurai Medical College and Homoeopathic Medical College, Thirumangalam and 11 paramedical institutes. There are fifteen engineering colleges in Madurai affiliated to Anna University, with the Thiagarajar College of Engineering being the oldest. The Madurai Law College, established in 1979, is one of the seven government law colleges in the state. It is administered by the Tamil Nadu Government Department of Legal Studies, and affiliated with the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University. There are three teacher training institutes, two music colleges, three management institutes and 30 arts and sciences colleges in Madurai. The agricultural college and research institute in Madurai, started in 1965 by the state government, provides agricultural education to aspirants in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. There are a total of 369 primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in the city.

Meenakshi Amman Temple North Tower – Street

Kazimar Big Mosque, the oldest Muslim place of worship in the city
Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the south side of the Vaigai River in Madurai and is one of the most prominent landmarks of the city. It is dedicated to Meenakshi and her consort, Sundareswarar. The complex houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 45–50 metres (148–164 ft) in height, the tallest being the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high. There are also two golden sculptured vimana (shrines) over the sanctum of the main deities. The temple is a significant symbol for Tamils and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655 CE. The temple attracts on average 15,000 visitors a day, which grows to around 25,000 on Fridays. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple, and it was in the list of top 30 nominees for the “New7Wonders of the World”.

Koodal Azhagar Temple is a Vishnu temple located in the city. It has idols of the Navagraha (nine planet deities), which are otherwise found only in Shiva temples. Alagar Kovil is a celebrated Vishnu temple 21 kilometres (13 mi) northeast of Madurai situated on the foothills of Solaimalai. The deity, Azhagar, is believed to be the brother of Meenakshi, the presiding deity at the Meenakshi temple. The festival calendars of these two temples overlap during the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam festival.

Pazhamudircholai, one of the other six abodes of the Hindu god Murugan, is located atop the Solaimalai hill. Tirupparankundram is a hill 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) away from Madurai where the Hindu god Murugan is said to have married Deivanai. The temple is the first among the Six Abodes of Murugan and is one of the most visited tourist spots in Madurai, next only to the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The temple has a wide range of Hindu gods carved on the walls.

Culture, tourism and entertainment
Pillared halls of a historic building.
Pillared halls of Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, built during 1636 CE and a national monument
Madurai is popularly called Thoonga Nagaram meaning the city that never sleeps, on account of the active nightlife. The city attracts a large number of tourists from within the country and abroad. About 9,100,000 tourists visited Madurai in 2010, including 524,000 foreigners. Madurai is now attracting medical tourism also. The palace complex of Thirumalai Nayak Palace was constructed in the Indo-Saracenic style by Thirumalai Nayakar in 1636 CE. It is a national monument maintained by the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department. The daily sound and light show organised by the department explains the virtues of King Thirumalai and the features of the palace. The palace of Rani Mangamma has been renovated to house one of the five Gandhi Sangrahalaya (Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai) in the country. It includes apart of the blood-stained garment worn by Mahatma Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. A visit by Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. to the museum inspired him to lead peaceful protests against discrimination. The Eco park, situated in Tallakulam, features fountains and lighting in trees using optical fibres. Rajaji children’s park, maintained by the Madurai Municipal Corporation, is situated between the Gandhi museum and the Tamukkam grounds. It has a visitor average of 5000 per day during holidays and 2000–3000 on working days. Madurai also has Theme Park, Athisayam which is situated in Paravai, Madurai – Dindigul main road. MGR Race Course Stadium is an athletic stadium which has a synthetic track and a swimming pool. Several national meets are held here.
It also hosts several international and national level kabaddi championships.

Three storied building:
Gandhi Memorial Museum
one of the five Gandhi Sangrahalaya in India
The people of Madurai celebrate numerous festivals, including Meenakshi Thirukalyanam, the Chithirai Festival and the Car Festival. The annual 10-day Meenakshi Thirukalyanam festival, also called Chithirai festival, is celebrated during April–May every year and attracts one million visitors. Legend has it that the Hindu god Vishnu, as Alagar, rode on a golden horse to Madurai to attend the celestial wedding of Meenakshi (Parvati) and Sundareswarar (Shiva). During the Cradle festival, the festive idols of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are taken in procession to a mirror chamber and set on a rocking swing for nine days. Avani Moolam festival is celebrated during September when the 64 sacred games of Shiva, thiruvilayadal, are recited. The Teppotsavam festival, or float festival, is celebrated on the full moon day of the Tamil month Thai, which falls around January – February, to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai Nayak. The decorated icons of Meenakshi and her consort are taken out in a procession from the Meenakshi Temple to the Mariamman Teppakulam. The icons are floated in the tank on a raft decked with flowers and flickering lamps. Jallikattu is one of the most popular historical sport in Tamil Nadu, and is a part of the Pongal festival (harvest festival) Mattu Pongal celebrated during January. The bull taming event is held in the villages surrounding Madurai, and people from the neighbouring villages throng to the open grounds to watch man and bull pitting their strength against each other. The event was banned in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 following an order by Supreme court of India. Santhana Koodu festivals in Madurai are celebrated on various days during the Islamic calendar year to commemorate Islamic saints.