Madurai

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Madurai (Tamil: மதுரை, [mɐd̪ɯrəj]; formerly Madura) is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu[2][3] and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities[4] in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and Madurai Nayak kings in the Dravidian style of architecture. It is also one of India’s prominent Hindu pilgrimage centres.

Madurai’s recorded history goes back to the 3rd century BC and the city is mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India and Kautilya, the minister of the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. The city was the principal administrative and cultural centre of the Pandyan dynasty which ruled over the southern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala till the first half of the 14th century AD. In about 1311, the Pandyan dynasty was overthrown by the Delhi Sultanate which established the province of Ma’bar which later became independent as the Ma’bar Sultanate. When the Ma’bar Sultanate began to decline in the latter years of the 14th century, Madurai was absorbed into the Vijayanagar Empire. The viceroys of the Vijayanagar Empire established the Madurai Nayak kingdom and ruled as independent kings from 1559 to 1736. After a brief period of occupation by Chanda Sahib and the Carnatic kingdom, Madurai was annexed by the British East India Company in 1801.

 

The city has been variously referred to as “Madurai”, “Naan maada Koodal”, “Koodal Nagar”, “Thirvalavai”, and “Aalavai”. Many theories have been suggested for the name of Madurai. Prominent among them is the one which traces the name to the Tamil word Madhura (Sweetness). Another popular theory is that the name is the derivation of the word Marutham, which refers both to a species of trees that grew on the banks of the River Vaigai and a type of landscape of the Sangam age. According to legend, the original city of Madurai, called Then Madurai (Madurai of South), was destroyed by a tsunami in ancient Kumari Kandam, after which the city moved inland to its present location. Apart from the current city, there is a town in the neighbouring Dindigul district called Vada Madurai (North Madurai) and another in Sivagangai district called Manamadurai. The different names by which the city has been referred to historically are listed in the 17th-century poem Thiruvilayaadal puraanam (Thiruvalavai Maanmiyam) written by Paranjothi Munivar.[5][6] One legend[citation needed] says that on the day the city was to be named, Shiva blessed the land and its people while divine nectar showered on the city from his matted locks. The city hence came to be known as Madhurapuri meaning The City of Divine Nectar. The legend is likely[original research?] a late tale attempting to Sanskritise the otherwise-Dravidian derivative of Madurai. Madurai is sometimes called Thoonga Nagaram (the city that never sleeps)[7] because it has the appearance of operating twenty four hours a day.[8] Unusually for India, a large number of the city’s food outlets remain open well past midnight.[citation needed]

History

Hand coloured antique wood engraving drawn by W. Purser (1858) shows Madurai city as seen from north bank of Vaigai river

.

Madurai has a long and well recorded history. As early as the 3rd century BC, Megasthenes visited, the city being referred to as “Methora” in his accounts. The city is also mentioned in Kautilya‘s Arthashastra.[5] Madurai has been described as the seat of the Pandyan Dynasty in Sangam literature (especially in Maturaikkāñci). The city is also described extensively in the 2nd-century CE epic Silapathikaram. The city was home to the third and last Tamil Sangam (between 300 BCE and 200 CE). Madurai finds mention in the works of Roman historians Pliny the Younger and Ptolemy[9] and those of the Greek geographer Strabo. It is also mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.[6]

After the Sangam age, most of present day Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, came under the rule of the Kalabhras dynasty, who were ousted by the Pandyas around 550 CE. The Pandyas were in their turn removed from power by the Chola dynasty during the early 9th century. The city remained under control of the Cholas until the early 13th century, when the second Pandyan empire was established with Madurai as its capital. After the death of the last Pandyan ruler, Kulasekara Pandian, Madurai came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate. The Madurai Sultanate, then seceded from Delhi and functioned as an independent kingdom till its destruction by the Vijayanagar Empire in 1378. Madurai became independent from Vijayanagar in 1559 under the Nayaks. Nayak rule ended in 1736 and Madurai changed hands several times between Chanda Sahib, Arcot Nawab and Muhammed Yusuf Khan (Marudhanayagam) in the middle of the 18th century.[5]

In 1801 the British East India Company took direct control of Madurai and brought it under the Madras Presidency. In 1837, the city was expanded to accommodate the growing population by demolishing the fortifications around the temple.[10] This was done on the orders of the then collector John Blackburn. The moat was drained and the debris was used to construct the new streets – Veli, Marat and Perumaal Mesthiri streets.[11] The city was constituted as a municipality in 1866.

Madurai played a role in the Indian independence movement. It was there that Gandhi made the decision to switch to wearing a loin cloth after seeing agricultural laborers wearing it.[12] The independence movement in Madurai was led by leaders such as N. M. R. Subbaraman,[13][14] Mohammad Ismail Sahib[15] and Meer Niyamatullah Ibrahim Sahib.[citation needed] Post-independence, the city has expanded particularly to the north of river Vaigai by the development of new residential neighbourhoods like Anna Nagar and K. K. Nagar.[citation needed]

Geography and climate

Madurai
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
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34
24
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32
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145
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29
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Imperial conversion

Madurai is located at 9.93°N 78.12°E[16] Madurai city is situated at a distance of 498 kilometres (309 mi) south-west of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is situated at a distance of 161 kilometres (100 mi) from Tiruchirappalli, 367 kilometres (228 mi) from Coimbatore and 241 kilometres (150 mi) north of Kanniyakumari. It has an average elevation of 101 metres. The city of Madurai lies on the flat and fertile plain of the river Vaigai which runs in the north-south direction through the city dividing it almost into two equal halves. The Sirumalai and Nagamalai hills lie to the north and west of Madurai.[17] The land in and around Madurai is utilized largely for agricultural activity which is fostered by the Periyar Dam.[17]

The municipal corporation of Madurai has an area of 52 km2, within an urban area now covering 178 km2[18] The climate is dry and hot, with Northeast monsoon rains during October–December. Temperatures during summer reach a maximum of 40 and a minimum of 26.3 °C, though temperatures over 43 °C are not uncommon. Winter temperatures range between 29.6 and 18 °C. The average annual rainfall is about 85 cm. The city is surrounded by Tirumangalam, Tiruparankunram, Melur, Anaiyur, Avaniapuram Municipalities.

Architecture

Madurai is built around the Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple. Concentric rectangular streets surround the temple, symbolizing the structure of the cosmos. The entire city is laid out in the shape of a lotus.[19] Some of these rectangular streets are named after months in the Tamil calendar. The six major rectangular streets around Meenakshi temple are Chittirai, Aadi, Aavani Moola, Maasi, Maarat and Veli streets.

Demographics

Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1871 51,987
1881 73,807 42.0%
1891 87,428 18.5%
1901 105,984 21.2%
1911 134,130 26.6%
1921 138,894 3.6%
1931 182,018 31.0%
1941 239,744 31.7%
1951 361,781 50.9%
1961 424,810 17.4%
1971 549,114 29.3%
1981 820,891 49.5%
1991 940,989 14.6%
2001 928,869 −1.3%
Source:

  • 1871 – 1901: Imperial Gazetter of India, Volume 16. Clarendon Press. 1908.
  • cite needed for 1911 onwards

An inhabitant of Madurai is known as a Maduraiite. The 2001 census showed that the city corporation had a population of 928,869, while that of the Madurai urban agglomeration was 1,203,095.[2] In Madurai, males constitute 50.53% of the population and females 49.46%. The city has an average literacy rate of 77.6%, higher than the national average of 64.5%. Male literacy is 82.2%, and female literacy is 72.9%. 10,7% of the population is under 6 years of age. The sex ratio is 979 females per 1,000 males. slightly higher than the national average of 944.[20] In 2005, the crime rate in the city was 283.2 per 100,000 people, accounting for 1.1% of all crimes reported in major cities in India. Madurai ranked 19th among 35 major cities in India in the incidence of crimes.[21] In 2001, the population density in the city was 17,100 per km2 (44,200 per mi²).[22]

Madurai Bench of Madras High court

A government order was issued[when?] which would cause a substantial expansion of the area defined as Madurai by merging various surrounding areas into it . However, the whether or not this will be implemented remains uncertain as at summer 2011.[23] Madurai Tamil is the standard dialect spoken. Other languages spoken are Sourashtra, Urdu and English. However the words of some of these languages have Tamil words mixed in with them.[citation needed]

Civic administration

Madurai city is administered by the Municipal Corporation. Formed in 1971, this was the second corporation established in Tamil Nadu.[24] The mayor is responsible for the day-to-day running of the municipal school board, the city bus service, the municipal hospital, and the city library. The city serves as the headquarters of Madurai district.

The city is also the seat of a bench of the Madras High Court, being one of only a few that exist outside the state capitals of India. It started functioning in July 2004.[25]

The corporation received several awards in 2008 for implementing development works.[26]

Transport

Rail

Madurai Junction

The Madurai Junction is one of the busiest in the country.[citation needed]. Madurai division has repeatedly received the award for being the best-maintained station in the Southern Railway.[27] Madurai Railway Division is the second largest revenue generating division in Tamil Nadu next only to Chennai.[citation needed] There are capacity pressures relating to passenger numbers. As a consequence of this, Southern Railway plans to modify and extend the Madurai Junction terminus.[citation needed]

The state government has announced Mono rail project for Madurai.[28] The railway stations in the Madurai area are Madurai Junction, Koodal Nagar, Samayanallur, Sholavandan, Vadipatti, East Madurai, Silaiman, Tirupuvanam, Thiruparankundram, Tirumangalam, Chekanoorani, and Usilampatti.

Road

Madurai airport

Madurai has several major bus stands, including the Madurai Integrated Bus Terminus (MIBT) at Mattuthavani and those at Arappalayam and Periyar. Between them, these provide transport both within the city and to numerous destinations across south India. Three-wheeled, referred to as autos, are available for travel with in the city. MIBT has pre-paid auto counter where commuters can pay fixed auto-fare depends on destination and hire. Madurai is connected by several National Highways. These include NH 7, NH 45B and NH 49.

Air

Madurai Airport is located 12 kilometers from the city. It offers domestic flights to major cities and there are plans to introduce international services.[29][30] Among the carriers operating from the site are Spice Jet, Jet Air Ways, Kingfisher Airlines and Air India.

The airport has handled 3 lakhs passengers between the period Jan 2009 to Oct 2009[31] and it is approved for the unloading and loading of export and import baggage.[32]

Education

The American college in Madurai is serving education for the city of Madurai for over 130 years

Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai.

Madurai has a literacy rate and human development index above the state average.[citation needed]

Madurai Kamaraj University is situated in Madurai. It pioneered the concept of distance education in India.[citation needed] The university was accorded the status of “University with Potential for Excellence”.[citation needed] There is also Madurai Medical College, a government homoeopathic medical college and hospital, an agricultural college and research institute, a law college, and many colleges for engineering, arts and science, such as Thiagarajar College of Engineering.

The Madura College, The American College in Madurai, M.S.S.Wakf Board College and Lady Doak College are among the oldest institutions of Madurai.[citation needed] Thiagarajar School of Management is devoted to Management Studies. Tamilnadu polytechnic college is in Madurai. There are also significant number of Hotel Management & Catering institutes[33] in the city.

Madurai has many schools, polytechnics and Industrial training institutes (ITIs).

Healthcare

Aravind Eye Hospital at Anna nagar

The city is served by the Government Rajaji Hospital, among others. The AIIMS hospital was being constructed at Thoppur, Madurai with a proposed completion date of September 2010.[34][clarification needed] There are numerous private hospitals – such as Aravind Eye Hospital, Apollo Specialty Hospital and Bose Hospital – which attract people to the city.[35]

Apollo Speciality Hospitals was founded in the city in the year 1997. The 200-bed hospital provides affordable and quality critical care to people of Madurai and southern districts. Another multi-speciality healthcare hospital Vadamalayan Hospitals runs clinics, pharmacies, and diagnostic centers in the rural areas in and around Madurai.

Places of worship

Meenakshi-Sundareswar Temple

The Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple was originally built by the early Pandya King Kulasekara. It is one of the greatest Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu.[citation needed] According to legend, Natarajar performed a dance raising his right leg in Madurai.[clarification needed] (Kal maari Aadiya natarajar). Shiva was very happy with the temple construction and performed a different dance.[clarification needed] This is the temple which is believed to have survived when Kannagi burned the city.[citation needed]

Kazimar Big Mosque and Maqbara

Main article: Kazimar Big Mosque
Main article: Madurai Maqbara

Madurai Hazrat’s Maqbara located within the Big Mosque

Kazimar Big Mosque, Madurai

Kazimar mosque (masjid) was the first Muslim place of worship in the city. It was constructed under the supervision of Kazi Syed Tajuddin, who came from Oman, received the piece of land from the then Pandya ruler King Ku(lasekara) Pandiyan during the 13th century and is believed to be a descendant of the prophet Muhammed.[36] It is also the second oldest mosque in Tamil Nadu[citation needed] and is known as Periya Pallivasal (Big Mosque). The descendants of Kazi Syed Thajuddin, who was appointed Kazi of the sultans, are known as the Huqdars (Share holders). They have managed the mosque since his time and have lived in the locality of Kazimar Street for more than 700 years. They are known as Syeds and among them are appointed Kazis to the Government of Tamil Nadu till today. The dargah of Madurai Hazrats called as Madurai Maqbara is located inside the mosque.

Thiruparankundram

Main article: Thiruparankundram

The legend is that Murugan married Deivanai at Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple, which also is the first among the Six Holy Abodes of Murugan (Arupadai Veedu, literally “Six Battle Camps”).[37][38] This cave temple is much older than the Meenakshi temple. On Fridays women place candles or sit around the temple floor and create kolams or rangoli patterns on the ground using coloured powders, ash and flowers as an offering to Durga.[39]

Dargah of Hazrat Sulthan Sikandhar Badhusha Shaheed, at the top of Thiruparankundram hills.

A durga is located at the top of the hill, where the grave of an Islamic saint, Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badushah Shaheed Radiyallah Ta’al anhu, who came from Jeddah along with Hazrat Sulthan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Badushah of Madinah during the early 13th century, is found. Irrespective of religion, people from all parts of Tamil Nadu and from Kerala visit this durgah.[citation needed] People who visit the Ervadi Durgah in Ramanathapuram district are supposed to visit this durgah.[citation needed] The Anniversary urus festival of Hazrat Sulthan Sikandar badusha Shaheed is commemorated on 17th night of the Islamic month of Rajab every Hijri year.

Goripalayam Dargah

Main article: Goripalayam Mosque

Gorippalayam Durgah on Urus.

Coin of Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan, first ruler of the Sultanate of Madurai, 1335–1339 CE

The name Gorippalayam comes from the Persian word Gor which means Grave. This area is called as Goripalayam because the Graves of the two saints of Islam and rulers of Madurai Hazrat Sulthan Alauddin Badusha (Radiyallah) and Hazrat Sulthan Shamsuddin Badhusha (Radiyallah) are located here. A green coloured tomb can be seen from the A.V.Bridge madurai, which is the Gorippalayam Dargah located in the northern banks of the River Vaigai. The dome is 70 feet (21 m) in diameter and 20 feet (6.1 m) in height and is made of a single block of stone which was brought from the Azhaga Hills. The two rulers were brothers who ruled the northern part of madurai after coming from Oman during 13th century to spread Islam. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin Radiyallah of Kazimar street was Govt. Kazi (Islamic Legal advisor and jury) to them. An ancient Tamil inscription, can be found planted on the outer campus of the Maqbara of the dargah campus which reads about a case relating to the lands of the dargah. This inscription is thought by some to prove the existence of the Dargah since 13th century. The anniversary urus festival of this dargah is held on 15th night of the Islamic month of Rabi al-awwal on every hijri year.

Theppakulam

Theppakulam is a part of Vandiyur Mariyamman temple. There is an artificial island at the centre, made of stone. It was built sometime around 1500 AD.

Koodal Azhagar Koil

Main article: Koodal Azhagar Temple

A Vishnu temple in the city center, Koodal Azhagar is unusual in having Navagraham, which normally are found only in Shivan temples. There is a Hayagriva temple close to this temple where Hayagriva is the main deity. Most of the students do their regular prayer[original research?] here as Hayagriva is the one who brought the epic fallen into water back to the earth. This temple is believed to be older than the Meenakshi temple.[citation needed]

St. Mary’s Cathedral Church

St. Mary’s Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madurai. It is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in India.[citation needed]

Economy

2,500 HP engine in Harvey Mills, Madura, circa 1914

Rubber

Because of city’s proximity to rubber producing centers, it has had rubber as a traditional industry. Besides gloves, sports goods, mats and other utility products, Madurai contributes in large to the production of automobile rubber components. TVS Srichakra (tyre manufacturing), Sundaram Industries (Rubber Division, Coach division) , Fenner India, and Lanxess India are some of the rubber based industries in the city. The rubber industry, industrialists feel, has a rich potential to transform Madurai economy. The anticipated growth in this industry, triggered by a boom in automobile sector, will have a cascading effect on other wings of the local economy. Despite being an industry with potential to cause pollution, the manufacturers are taking “special care” to adopt environment-friendly processes.[citation needed]

Major automobile producers, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda, are regular buyers of components produced in the city.[40]

Automotive

The city is home to one of the top motor cycle manufacturers in India the TVS Group.[41]

IT and ITES

Honeywell office at Thirupparankundram

IT industries have located in Madurai. Software Technology Parks of India, an agency of the Government of India, has authorized several such companies to receive benefits under its national information technology development program. The city hosts multinational corporations such as Honeywell Technologies India.

In 2008, C Chandramouli, the IT Secretary to the government of Tamil Nadu, said that the ” … work culture, low attrition rates and also the availability of educational institutions in these tier II cities [such as Madurai] is attracting these companies,” This followed announcements of business process outsourcing ventures in the area involving HCL, Satyam and Sutherland Global Services.[42] The state government proposed two IT- Special Economic Zone (SEZ)s in Madurai and these have been fully occupied by various IT companies.[43] The work on provision of infrastructure is in progress in Information Technology parks.[44]

Textile

There are numerous textile and chemical industries operating in the area, including Thiagarajar Mills (one of the largest manufacturer and exporter of 100% Indian cotton yarn),[citation needed] Kasim Textile Mills, Sundaram Textiles, Weaves India, and Vaigai Group.[citation needed]

Granite

There are also few Granite industries like PRP Exports (one of India’s largest granite processors and exporters)[citation needed] Madurai Arkay Rock, P.R.Granites, Duniterocks, and Arkay Glenrock. There is a proposal to set up a granite industry near Melur, and a polishing factory in Madurai.[citation needed]

Retail and malls

There are numerous large shops and malls and the construction of new facilities for these businesses is ongoing.[45] Particular streets within the city are occupied by businesses involved in similar trade. For example, East Gate contains household utensil shops, East Masi Street has grocery shops, and shops selling garments and textiles are found in South Masi Street.

Culture, tourism and entertainment

Madurai City at dawn

The city attracts a large number of tourists from within the country and abroad. About 4,100,000 tourists visited Madurai in 2007, out of which foreigners numbered 224,000.[46]

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal

Tirumalai Nayakar mahal

The palace complex of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal was constructed in the Indo-Saracen style by Thirumalai Nayakar in 1636. It is a national monument and is now under the care of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department.

Gandhi Museum

Main article: Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai

Gandhi Museum

The palace of Rani Mangamma has been renovated and is now one of the five Gandhi Sanghralayas (Gandhi Museums) in the country. It includes a part of the blood-stained garment worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse.[47] A visit by Martin Luther King Jnr. provided him with inspiration for his own peaceful protests against discrimination.[48]

Entertainment

  • The Eco park features lighting, including trees using optical fibres, and fountains. It has a water show accompanied by music,[citation needed]
  • Hawa valley, on the outskirts of Madurai, is a beauty spot that also contains a go-kart track.[citation needed]
  • Rajaji children park is is situated in between the Gandhi museum, and the Tamukkam grounds. It has lots of children play with some hotels like Poonga Arya bhavan and some other eateries shops. Also there are some collection of birds and some kight and music play.[citation needed]
  • MGR Race Course Stadium is an athletic stadium which has a synthetic track. Several National Meets are held here and also International Kabadi Championship was held here.[citation needed]
  • Railway grounds at Arasaradi, Medical college grounds & Madura College Grounds are the full fledged Cricket Stadiums in the city.[citation needed]
  • Theatres: Asia’s largest theatre[citation needed] “Thangam Theatre” is located in Madurai.

Media

City hosts several radio stations, including Radio Mirchi and Suryan FM. The Sun TV Network has a regional office at Uththangudi, Madurai. Many other channels such as Vijay TV, Jaya TV and SS Music also have offices in the area.

The Hindu, The New Indian Express and The Times of India are the three principal English language daily newspapers which have editions published in the city. Deccan Chronicle, though not printed here, is widely circulated in the city. Tamil language daily morning newspapers include Dina Malar, Dina Thanthi, Dina Mani and Dinakaran. There are also daily evening newspapers, being Tamil Murasu, Malai Murasu and Malai Malar.

Hospitality

Gateway Hotel (Taj Garden Retreat)

In the recent years, the city has seen growth in the hospitality industry.[citation needed] The “Heritance Madurai” is a five star hotel.[49] Some of the other top rated hotels are the Royal Court, Hotel GRT Regency, the Park Plaza, the Gateway Hotel (Taj Garden Retreat), Hotel Germanus, North Gate, Madurai Residency, Hotel Sangam and Hotel Fortune Pandiyan.[50][51] of the city. Madurai is known for its idlis which are available with variety of chutneys in almost all the restaurants.

Festivals

The people of Madurai celebrate numerous festivals, which include Meenakshi Tirukkalyanam, The Chittirai Festival, and the Car Festival.[52]

Meenakshi marriage & The Chittirai festival

Pongal

A bull tamed by a Tamil youth

A bull decorated for Mattu pongal celebrations

Mattu pongal is celebrated on the next day[clarification needed] of Pongal (Harvest Festival) to honour bulls, who work hard throughout the year. Bulls are bathed, their horns are painted, and in some villages they wear new dresses too.[clarification needed]

Thepporchavam

Mariamman theppakkulam (temple tank)

The Thepporchavam festival celebrated in the month of January, on the full moon day of Tamil Month Thai. The ornamented icons of the Meenakshi and her consort are taken out in a colourful procession from the Meenakshi Temple to the Mariamman Teppakulam. The icons are floated in the tank on a raft decked with flowers and flickering lamps.

Santhanakoodu festivals

Santhanakoodu festivals are celebrated on various days during the year to commemorate saints.


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