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 Tamil Nadu.
Etymology of Madurai
The city has various names like "Madurai", "Koodal", "Naanmadakoodal" and "Thirualavai". The word Madurai is derived from Madhura (sweetness) arising out of the divine nectar showered on the city by the Hindu god Shiva from his matted hair. In Tamil literature, Madurai is usually called 'Nanmadakkoodal' meaning the junction of four towers, refers to the four major temples for which Madurai was known for. It is also called the Athens of the East. The term 'Koodal' means assembly.
History of Madurai
Madurai has been inhabited since the 3rd century BC. The city is also mentioned in Kautilya's "Arthashastra". It is known from the literary evidences that earlier Madurai was consumed by the sea. Later, in the 6th century B.C. the Pandya King Kulasekara established the second Madurai. The culture of Tamil Nadu is woven with the history of Madurai in all aspects such as history, religion, art, legend, learning and so on. As mostly the elites and learned men lived in the Madurai city, hence it was called the Athens of the East.
The Pandyas ruled Madurai from the Sangam Age. After the Sangam age, Tamil Nadu including Madurai came under the rule of the Kalabhra dynasty, which was ousted by the Pandyas. The Pandyas were ousted from Madurai by the Chola dynasty during the early 9th century. The Cholas ruled here for a short period till the Muslim invasion by Malik Kafur. Then, it was ruled by the Vijayanagar emperors and their governors, the Nayakas from 1378. Madurai became independent from Vijayanagar in 1559 under the Nayaks. The Nayakas ruled for more than 200 years and their reign was considered as the golden age. At that time, Madurai was at its height in art, architecture and learning. The Nayaka rulers decorated Madurai with temples and buildings. They also built the famous Meenakshi temple, which are landmarks of the city. In 1801, Madurai came under the direct control of the British East India Company.
Geography of Madurai
Madurai is located at an average elevation of 101m from the sea level. The city of Madurai lies on the flat and fertile plain of the Vaigai River, which runs in the northwest-southeast direction through the city, dividing it into two almost equal halves. The land in and around Madurai is utilized largely for agricultural activity, which is fostered by the Periyar Dam. Madurai lies southeast of the Western Ghats. Paddy is the major crop, followed by pulses, millet, oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane.
Climate of Madurai
Madurai is hot and dry for 8 months of the year. Cold winds are experienced during February-March and the hottest months are from March-July. The city experiences a moderate climate from August-October by heavy rain and thundershowers, and a slightly cooler climate from November-February. Fog and dew are rare, occurring only during the winter season. Being halfway from mountains and the sea, it experiences similar monsoon pattern with Northeast monsoon and Southwest monsoon, with the former providing more rain during October-December.
Demographics of Madurai
According to 2011 census, Madurai had a population of 1,017,865 with a sex-ratio of 999 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 100,324 were under the age of 6. The average literacy of the city was 81.95%, compared to the national average of 72.99%.
Economy of Madurai
The paddy fields cultivated in the Vaigai delta across Madurai North, Melur, Nilakottai and Uthamapalayam are known as "double-crop paddy belts". Farmers in the district enhances their income with subsidiary occupations like dairy farming, poultry-farming, pottery, brick making, mat-weaving and carpentry. Madurai is famed for its jasmine plantations in the foothills of Kodaikanal Hills, called "Madurai Malli".
Madurai is one of the few rubber growing areas in South India. There are many rubber-based industries in Madurai. Automobile producers like General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda are the major consumers of machinery produced in the city. The city is home to one of the top motorcycle manufacturers in India, the TVS Group. There are numerous textile, granite and chemical industries operating in Madurai. Madurai is promoted as a second-tier city for IT.
Religious Sites at Madurai