Madurai (Tamil: மதுரை Maturai [ mad̪ɯrɛi ]; until 1949 Madura ) is a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The city, one of the oldest in South Asia, located in the south of Tamil Nadu on the banks of the River Vaigai and is now about 1 million inhabitants. To Madurai is the third largest city in the state. The city is the administrative center of the district of Madurai.

Madurai is one of the oldest cities in South India and can look back on more than two thousand years of history. Between the 3rd century BC and the 4th century AD, Madurai was the capital of Pandya kingdom, a first early kingdoms of South India. In the 12th century the Pandya kingdom experienced a renaissance, and later was the capital of the short-lived Madurai Sultanate of Madurai and Nayaks of Madurai. The main attraction is the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, its towering gopurams ( gateway towers ) visible from afar the cityscape Madurais dominate. The substantially during the Nayak period, built in the 15th to 17th century temple is one of the most outstanding examples of Dravidian temple architecture.

  • 2.1 First Pandya kingdom
  • 2.2 Second Pandya Empire and Sultanate of Madurai
  • 2.3 Vijayanagar and Nayak
  • 2.4 British colonial period and independence



Madurai is located in the south of Tamil Nadu around 450 kilometers southwest of Chennai (Madras ), the capital of the state, and 250 kilometers north of Cape Comorin, the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. The city is the administrative center of the district of Madurai. Madurai is located in the plane at about 140 meters above sea level, surrounded by single rugged mountains. Through the city flows the Vaigai River which leads but only during the rainy season.


The municipality Madurai ( Madurai Corporation) has an area of ​​51.5 square kilometers. Madurai is divided into the old town on the south and formed during the colonial era Neustadt on the north bank of the Vaigai River. The Meenakshi Temple, Madurai main attraction, literally forms the center of the Old Town: The city layout of the old town is targeted with a plurality of concentric ring roads that follow the contours of the temple complex, and axially on the gopurams ( gateway towers ) of the temple incoming roads to the Meenakshi Temple. The roughly rectangular ring roads Chittrai Street, Avani Mula Street and Masi Street are named after months of the Tamil calendar. In each month, the idols from the temple in a grand procession are drawn by the corresponding road. The outermost ring road, Veli Street, was built on the site of the early 19th century ruined fortifications. With its built concentrically around the Meenakshi Temple Madurai around town plan embodies the type of classical south Indian temple town, though not in the same regularity as about the ideal example Srirangam.


First Pandya kingdom

Madurai is a two thousand-year history of the oldest cities in South India and is considered the birthplace of the Tamil culture. Therefore, it is dubbed "the Athens of the East ". The city's origins are shrouded in mystery. The local town legend derives the name of Madurai from the Sanskrit word madhura ( " nectar " ), more likely, however, that a connection to the city of Mathura in northern India is. In the first pre-Christian centuries the Pandya dynasty of Madurai ruled out one of the first early kingdoms of South India. The Greek historian Megasthenes, who was staying in the 3rd century BC, at the court of the North Indian Mauryan emperor Chandragupta, reported in its Indike from the Pandya kingdom and its capital, Madurai. In the Sanskrit text Arthashastra of Kautilya ( 300 BC? ) Madurai is mentioned. In the alttamilischen Sangam literature (ca. 1st century BC to 6th century AD), Madurai has a prominent role. According to legend, the city became the seat of an academy ( sangam ) of poets to have been, who used the Tamil poetry. That actually was once a poet flourished under royal patronage Academy in Madurai, is quite possible. Among the numerous mentions of Madurai in the Sangam literature, dating from the early 3rd century Maduraikkanchi stands out, which describes life in 782 verses of the city life in Madurai. The famous epic Silappadigaram plays in Madurai.

Second Pandya Empire and the Sultanate of Madurai

The penetration of the Kalabhra in the 4th century AD ended the supremacy of the Pandya, who were henceforth nurmehr vassals of other rulers. End of the 12th century did the Pandyas but again, regain their supremacy. 1279 defeated the Pandya the previously dominant Chola Empire and improved their empire to the Godavari, and to the north of Sri Lanka expand.

The reign of the Pandya but was soon broken again when Malik Kafur, a general Ala ud- Din Khaljis, 1310 a campaign of the Sultanate of Delhi to South India and led Madurai conquered. 1334 emerged the independent Sultanate of Madurai from the province of the Delhi Sultanate. The Islamic rule over the territory remained short-lived: in 1372 the Sultanate was defeated by the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar, which swung in the episode the most powerful kingdom in South India.

Vijayanagar and Nayak

The Vijayanagar rulers set in different parts of their empire military governor of a ( Nayaks ) who made his own business after the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1565. The Nayaks of Madurai from Madurai and later from Tiruchirappalli ( Trichinopoly ) over the southern parts of present-day Tamil Nadu. On the Nayak period, the expansion of the Meenakshi Temple and the construction of the Tirumalai Nayak Palace, go back. After the death of the greatest Nayak ruler Tirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) the rule of the Nayaks of Madurai destabilized visibly before it finally went under in 1736. During the 18th century, Madurai was ruled by the Nawabs of Arcot and the Marathas before it finally came under British influence.

British colonial and independence

1801 joined the Nawab of Arcot his possessions from the British. So Madurai was annexed a part of British India and was in the province of Madras. The British made the Madurai district capital and built on the other side of the Vaigai River New Town ( Cantonment ). After Indian independence Madurai came in 1956 the newly formed State of Madras, which was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969.


According to the 2011 census, Madurai has 1,016,885 inhabitants in the city proper and 1.46242 million inhabitants in the agglomeration. To Madurai is after the capital Chennai and the industrial city of Coimbatore is the third largest city of Tamil Nadu. The population trend is increasing: Between 2001 and 2011 the population of the city grew by 9.5 percent. Significantly faster growing suburbs: The entire metropolitan area experienced in the same period a growth of 22.4 percent.

The main language in Madurai is Tamil as in all of Tamil Nadu. In addition, living in Madurai, as in other places in Tamil Nadu since the time Vijayanagar Telugu speaking box. In addition, a minority of speakers of Saurashtri, which is closely related to the Northwest Indian Language Gujarati exists. The Speaker of the Saurashtri are members of the caste of weavers Patnulkarar, originally migrated from Gujarat.

The majority of the inhabitants of Madurai are Hindus, next are minorities of Muslims and Christians. The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madurai and Madurai - Ramnad Diocese of the Anglican Church of South India.

Culture and sights

The main attraction is the Madurai Meenakshi Hindu Temple. He is Minakshi, a local manifestation of the goddess Parvati, and her husband Sundareshvara ( Shiva) ordained that should have married in Madurai, according to the myth. The oldest parts of the Meenakshi temple date from the Pandya period of the 12th - 13th Century, its present shape was the temple but mainly during the Nayak rule in the 16th - 17th Century. The Meenakshi temple is considered to be flowering of late Dravidian style. The over six acres of very extensive temple complex includes several other shrines in addition to the main components, including several large porches and a temple pond. The twelve towering gopurams ( gateway towers ) of the temple are equipped with lush and colorful painted figural decoration and widely visible dominate the cityscape Madurais.

Another attraction is the Madurai Tirumalai Nayak Palace, in the eastern part of the old town. It was built in 1636 during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak ruler. Originally, the temple complex was much larger, today the main and the dance hall and the 75 × 52 -foot courtyard remain. Nevertheless, he is one of the most important examples of the South Indian palace architecture.

Madurai Meenakshi temple belongs thanks to the to the main tourist attractions of Tamil Nadu. In 2011, the city recorded 8.5 million domestic and foreign visitors.

Sons and daughters of the town

  • Augustus De Morgan (1806-1871), British mathematician
  • Rukmini Devi Arundale (1904-1986), Indian theosophist, dancer and politician
  • MS Subbulakshmi (1916-2004), Indian singer
  • Vadivelu ( born 1950 ), Indian actor
  • Mani Ratnam (born 1954 ), Indian director
  • Sivakumar Veerasamy (born 1971 ), Indian plant geneticist