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. 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 and those of the Greek geographer Strabo. It is also mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.
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.
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. 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. 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. The independence movement in Madurai was led by leaders such as N. M. R. Subbaraman, Mohammad Ismail Sahib and Meer Niyamatullah Ibrahim Sahib. 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.
Day 01: Thanjavur – Madurai
Today morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Madurai (approx 170 Kms / 5-6 hrs). Madurai was the capital city of the great Pandya kings, and today it is Tamil Nadu’s most happening cultural arena. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel, rest and refresh. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 02: Madurai
In the morning after breakfast visit the Meenakshi Temple, the Teppakkulam Tank and the ancient Tirumala Nayak Palace. The structures of the Meenakshi Temple date mostly from the twelfth to the eighteenth century. Its enormous gopurams, covered with gaily-coloured statues, dominate the landscape and are visible from all over Madurai. At every turn there is superb sculpture; a magnificent architecture. The Tirumala Nayak Palace is a gracious building in the Indo Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches.
Day 03: Madurai
Today morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Madurai Airport/Railway Station for your flight/train back home with beautiful memories of your holiday.