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Madurai

The name Madurai is associated with ‘Maduram’ meaning nectar. The legend is that when Lord Siva came here to marry Devi Meenakshi, few drops of nectar fell from His locks and therefore named as Madurapuri, the land of nectar which was shortened later as Madurai.  Madurai is located on the banks of river Vaigai. This ancient city is about 2600 years old. This city is referred to as the Athens of the East. As early as the 3rd century BC, evidence show that Madurai had trade connection WITH Greeks, Romans with the ruling Pandya Kings. Madurai flourished till 10th century AD when it was captured by Cholas the arch rivals of the Pandyas. Madurai was rules by Pandyas till 9th century and Cholas, their arch rivals were in power from 920 AD till beginning of the 13th century. Pandyas were able to regain power in 1223 AD.The 1371, the Vijayanagar dynasty of Hampi captured Madurai and Madurai became part of the Vijayanagar empire. The Nayaks appointed by Vijaynagar ruler had control of the territory and were responsible for administration and revenue. Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) was one of the Nayaks, most popular, who contributed to the creation of many magnificent structures in and around Madurai. 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 of Madurai.

Area 3741 sq km
Population 25,78,201 (2001)
Altitude 100.58 M (327 ft)
Rainfall 850 mm (July, August, October to December)
STD Code 0452
Location 9°48′N 78°06′E / 9.8°N 78.10°E

Climate :
Madurai is hot and dry during summer. It records high of 43◦C and low of 27◦C. The winter high temperature is around 30◦C and low of 19◦C. The summer monsoon is relatively low around 121 mm. Winter monsoon during October to December brings down the temperature.

Places of Interest :
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple complex is literally a city - one of the largest of its kind in India and one of the oldest too. The temple grew with the contribution of each dynasty and victorious monarchs, into an enormous complex extending over an area of 65000 Sq m. “Ayiramkaal Mandapam” or the Hall of Thousand Pillars and each pillar features high, ornate, bold sculptures that look life like is magnificent. I View from any angle these pillars appear to be in a straight line, a marvel in architecture.

Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, was built in 1636 by the ruler whose name it bears. The imposing edifice is famous for the “Stuccowork” on its domes and impressive arches. The Sorgavilasam (Celestial Pavilion), measuring 75m x 52m, constructed entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder.

Thirupparankundram Temple is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya.

Algar Koil, located at 21 km northeast of Madurai, is a Vishnu Temple dedicated to Lord Alagar. The temple is situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings and contains some beautiful carvings. Palamudirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya is located atop the Hill.The Gandhi Museum depicts the highlights of the freedom struggle in a picture gallery.

Mariamman Teppakulam, a sacred tank built by Thirumalai Nayak is spread over an area of 16 acres, located about 5 Km east of Meenakshi Temple. The tank is the venue of the colourful float festival held in January or February to commemorate the birth anniversary of King. The deities of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed in a float, called “Teppam”, decorated with flowers and illuminated with hundred of lights. This float is taken around the tank to the sound of traditional music. On the Northern side of the tank a temple is dedicated to Mariamman , a famous village deity of Tamil Nadu.

Traveling to Madurai :

By Air : Madurai has flights from Chennai, Trichy and Mumbai only.

By Train : Madurai can be reached by train from Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Vishakhaatnam, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trichy, Rameshwaram, Kanya Kumari, Trivandrum, Cochin, Coimbatore, Salem and few other cities.

By Road : Coimbatore (221 km), Bangalore (449 km), Trichy (142 km), Tanjore (199 km), Chennai (444 km), Rameshwaram (172 km), Kanya Kumari (260 km), Trivandrum 264 km), Pondicherry (324 km), Dindigul (66 km), Kodaikanal (135 km), Munnar (162 km)

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