|Meenakshi temple, Madurai.en.wikipedia.org|
Madurai, now third largest city in the state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most ancient cities of India with a glorious past, ranking along with Varanasi, Pataliputra (Patna, Bihar). Ujjaini, (Madhya Pradesh) and others. It is well-known for Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple. Two of the six shrines (Aarupadai Veedu) of Lord Subramaniya (Karthic/Murugan) are located nearby at Thiruparam Kundram and at Pazhamuthir Solai. Meenkashi Thirukalyanam (celestial wedding of goddess) and Kallazagar (God Vishnu) getting into Vaigai river are two major religious festivals here that attract thousands of people far and wide. Located on the banks of Vaigai river, Madurai is one of the oldest and continuously inhabited cities in the world - more than 2200 years old. The following are the interesting facts that are worthy of mention:
01. The recorded history of the city goes back to the 3rd century BCE.
02. The antiquity of this city was mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India (his visit in 302 BC), followed by Marcopolo and Ibn Batuta ( Moroccan Muslim traveler)
|An old picture of Madurai temple. www.girlsandsilks.com|
03. Like a phoenix bird, it raises to its glory even after a great destruction and this is the city which lives for past 2500 years.
04. The city was ruled by various dynasties. Cholas (10th to 13th centuries) and Pandyas. Latter came to power in 1223 AD and patronized the Tamil language and the kingdom prospered. Pandya dynasty came to an end during th reign of Kulasekara Pandian ((1268–1308 CE). Malik Kafur (April, 1311), Military Commander of Alauddin Khilji (Delhi Sultanate), interfered on Pandya king's request to solve the dispute over the successor to the throne and in the wake, it ended in plunder and looting of Madurai and its temple.
05. Vijayanagar Empire ended the Muslim rule and appointed Nayak as their governors. Nayaks became independent and started ruling the territories autonomously after death of Vijayanagara king in 1530 AD. This was followed by the Chanda Sahib (1740 – 1754 CE), Arcot Nawob of Carnatic kingdom Muhammed Yusuf Khan (1725 – 1764 CE) in the mid part of 18th century.
06. Later Madurai came under the East India company and in 1781, British appointed George Procter to look after the city. He was the first collector of Madurai.
07. It was first annexed to the Madras Presidency in 1801. Madurai became a municipality in 1866 under the British Crown.
08. 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 Dravidia source. The city is famous for its rich heritage and patronage of Tamil language through "Sangams," an exalted group of eminent scholars in Tamil, one of the very few old languages in the world rich in literature.
|The Sangam literature Developed between 600 BCE and 300 CE in South India, www.slideshare.net|
10. It was in Madurai, in 1921, that Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of non-violence and a prominent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India, first adopted the loin cloth as his mode of dress after seeing agricultural laborers wearing it, toiling hard on the lands under scorching sun. Incidentally Madurai was his most favored destination during the freedom struggle.
|Gandhi Museum(Mangammal palace), Maduraiwww.transindiatravels.com|
|Tamil Nadu map.www.travelsinmadurai.in|
12. The Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act passed by the government of Madras Presidency under C. Rajagopalachari (a lawyer and politician who became th last Governor general of India)
|Map of Madurai showing center of the city and some important landmarks. en.wikipedia.org|
13. Meenakshi temple is one of the largest temples in India covering more than 14 acres of land. It is a temple of sculptural wonder and brilliant artistic expression. The streets are laid around the temple outwardly each carrying the names of some Tamil months.
14. The city of Madurai has been constructed in the form of a lotus around the temple.The city is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular streets around the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple complex temple. It was Vishwanatha Nayak (1159–64 CE), the first Madurai Nayak king, who redesigned the city in accordance with the principles of Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: śilpa Sasatra) - rules of architecture related to urban planning. Many streets bear the traditional names of Tamil months Aadi, Chittirai, Avani-moola and Maasi streets, based on festivals.
15. Among Nayaks, Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) was the most popular one. His contribution to Madurai was immense. The Raja Gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple, the Pudu Mandapam and the Thirumalai Nayakar's Palace are living examples of his passion for art. Thirumalai Nayak Mahal (built by Thirumalai Nayak) and Mangammal palace (that houses Gandhi museum) built by the Nayak dynasty are major tourist attractions.
|13th century old Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara, Madurai,India.www.hikeezee.com|
The old city of Madurai is interwoven with ancient Tamil literature, tradition and culture of Tamil region and Hindu religion.