The oldest city of
Tamil Nadu, Madurai is located on the banks of river Vaigai. Madurai takes its name from the drops of nectar ('mathuram' means sweetness in Tamil) that fell there from
Lord Shivas matted locks.
Madurai has a rich cultural heritage that dates way back to the Sangam period of the pre-Christian era. The place finds mention in
Megasthenes's travelogue, Indica. The
Pandyas and the Nayaks of Vijayanagara ruled Madurai successively during the medieval period. Madurai is the seat of the Tamil Sangam (an ancient academy of learning). It is the headquarters of Madurai District and has an area of 22 sq km. Madurai is an important cultural and commercial centre. The city is famous for the jasmine flowers grown there.
The prime attractions are the
Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, Mariamman Teppakulam, Alagar Koil, Tirupparankundram, and Gandhi Museum. Other interests: a water theme park, Rajaji Park, Roller Skating at Vandiyur Kanmai Tourist Complex, Maharishi Meditation and Yoga Center. The nearby places of interest are Kodaikanal, Thekkady and Kuttalam.
Cultural programs are organized at Lakshmi Sundram Hall and Raja Muthiah Mandram. Popular festivals of Madurai are the Chithirai festival (April - May), Avanimool festival (Sep - Oct),
Navratri festival and Float festival. The main languages spoken here are Tamil, English and Sourashtra Language.
Madurai Airport is 10 km away from Madurai city. Madurai is linked by air to Chennai, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), Bangalore and Kochi. Madurai is an important railway junction, with both meter gauge and broad gauge connection to major cities and towns in south India. National Highways 45 and 78 meet at Madurai and hence, it is well connected to all corners of the state. Periyar and Anna bus stand offer local services, while Arapalayam and Mattuthavani bus stands cater the outstation services.