Madurai is one of the oldest and greatest temple town of India. Madurai is the city with history dating all the way back to sangam period of the pre Christian era. Madurai was the seat of power of the ancient Pandyan Empire of Tamilakam. The poet of sangam period Nakkeerar is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal episodes of Sundareswarar - that are enacted as a part of temple festival traditions even today. In the early 3rd century BC, Megasthenes visited Madurai. Later many people from Rome and Greece and from many countries visited Madurai and established trade with the Pandya kings.
The city Madurai is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, is known for its world renowned Meenakshi Temple. This Meenakshi temple is famous for its intricate carvings and scriptures. The city of Madurai is situated at the bank of river Vaigai and boasts of a rich ancient culture and heritage. Madurai is more than 2,500 years old; it is one of the most ancient cities of India. The city is the capital of Pandya kings, Madurai is considered to have been designed and planned by King Kulasekara Pandyan, in the 6th century BC.
Madurai city has something for everybody. The famous Floating Festival is of great religious importance and attracts pilgrims from across the country. The adventurous tourists people can visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Megamalai tea estates, while the nature lovers can go to Kodaikanal, Suruli and Kumbakkarai Water Falls. Thus, Madurai city presents a beautiful blend of art, culture, spirituality, technology and entertainment, thus making it a popular tourist destination.
The temple town of Madurai is one of the most ancient heritage cities of India truly reflective of the cultural ethos of India. The city Madurai is closely associated with the literary wealth of Classical and Modern Tamil. The crowning glory of this historic Madurai city is the sprawling Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. Four of the six major streams of the indigenous system of beliefs as codified by Sankaracharya (i.e. Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and the worship of Skanda) meet in this historic Madurai city during festive occasions when the entire region is transformed into a vast space of celebration.
Madurai is centered on the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. The Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is literally a splendid and world famous art gallery with each stone, each image breathing the tradition of this ancient - and vibrant culture. The present day city of Madurai is said to have been known as Kadambavanam forest, a forest. Lord Indra was worshipping lord Swayambhu, the Lingam in the forest which was noticed by Dhananjaya, a farmer. The Lingam was found under the Kadamba tree. Then the farmer reported about what he saw in Kadambavanam to King Kulasekara Pandiya.
The name madurai is derived from the name "Mathuram" which means "sweet" in "Tamil language", and later on the city gradually got its name as Madurai. Lord Shiva has performed over sixty-four wonders called "Thiruvilaiyadals" in Madurai and thus Madurai occupies a very important place in the ancient Indian history.