Madurai is Known as Athens of the East. It is a place of great historical and cultural importance. It is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu and Madurai lies on the banks of the River Vaigai. Madurai is one of the liveliest cities in South India it was originally known as Kadambavanam or the “forest of Kadamba” or the Nauclea kadamba.
Legend says that Lord Shiva appeared in the dream on the king, Kulasekhara Pandya. The king was amazed to see drops of nectar or madhu falling down of earth from Lord Shiva’s matted hair. The “madhu” was so sweet that the place where it fell came to be known as Madhurapuri, which in course of time became “Madurai.”
Tamil and Greek documents record its existence from the 4th century B.C. Being in the heart of Tamil Nadu, Madurai has fostered an essentially Dravidian and Tamil culture. Famous for its cultural and scholarly pursuits, the city had an academy consisting of critics, poets and savants highly esteemed both by kings and commoners. It was in Madurai that three successful conferences of Tamil scholars called sangams flourished under benevolent royal support. Madurai is famous for housing one of the five traditional dance halls where Lord Siva, in his form as the Silver Hall or the Velli Ambalam. It is situated within the Meenakshi Temple.
Madurai was the capital of the dynasty. The Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Shrine is its central glory. The Muslims invaded Madurai in the 14th Century. Later it came under the rule of the Nayaks, and the rule of Thirumalai Nayak, who is remembered as the maker of modern Madurai, was an eventful one.
Madurai was known to be the centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Today, Madurai is a modern commercial and industrial city, with a vast University campus and is renowned for its weaving mills and dyeing industry. The chungadi cotton sarees are the speciality of this city with its colourful tie and dye motifs. Handicrafts, brassware, bronze items and the famous wooden toys of Madurai are some of the notable artefacts.Madurai is 450 kms from Chennai.
Gandhi museum is a great master piece in Southern India and it has great historical background and mythology in its background. There are several Gandhi museums across the nation and the Gandhi museum of the southen India is basically a Tamukkam bungalow which means summer house in Tamil, which is the local language of the place.
The museum is square in share and created at the height of 5 metres from the ground level and it has a wonderful dome in the centre which is about 7 metres diagonally. It was constructed by Nayak Queen Rani in the earlier 1700 AD. Great cost was incurred in establishing the museum and it was all invested by the government of India, in memory of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal was constructed way back in the 17th century. Several buildings and temples had been constructed by him in the region and they have been splendid piece of construction. It was constructed by kings of muslim dynasty which covered several regions of coimbatore, Madurai districts and other few places in southern Tamil Nadu. It is a great piece of art and all of the sculptures are encarved in the Madurai style.
Several old temples too have been renovated in this new style and the whole city seems to have the construction of the similar make, which is a good feature of the place.
Vaigai dam is a giant dam constructed on the river Vaigai and is situated near Andipatti in southern India. The dam has been the life line of the agricultural lands in the neighbourhood and because of it the areas have flourished in leaps and bounds. It provides clean and fresh drinking water to whole of the region of Madurai and Andipatti. Agricultural research institution too has been developed near the dam so as to research on a wide variety of crops including cereals and pulses.
Several issues about the water supply in the dry seasons have been curbed down after the construction of the dam and it has provided life to the region of southern India.
Alagar Koil is a beautiful temple situated in the north east of Madurai. The temple is the abode of Lord Vishnu and is the sacred place for several followers of Lord Vishnu in the region. It is situated in the Alagar hills and is also known as Azhagarkovil. The statue of the lord is made of stone and is a great masterpiece created from kallalgar. Several different statues in different postures of the Lord are all kept in the temple under the same roof and is the best form of distinct temples in southern India. The people of the region consider Lord Vishnu to be a wonderful king or ruler of the earth and offer holy prayers from the bottom of the heart. The temple has wonderful halls and other facilities to perform different rituals with sacred mantras in the holy environment.