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Brief History of Madurai

Madurai, one of the oldest cities in southern India, is regarded as the cultural centre of Tamil Nadu. The Pandya dynasty, with Madurai as its capital, was known to the ancient Greeks. Madurai appears on Ptolemy's map of the world. It was considered by foreigners as ‘Athens of the South.' Known as the ‘temple city,' it is a sacred centre or a cosmic centre (i.e., not a centre in any economic or political sense). “A sacred centre need not be in the crossroads of trade routes or the seat of power, though many like Peking or Madurai are both.” A sacred centre has a “vertical dimension” linking this world with the world of the heavens. This is true in the case of Madurai where the celestial wedding of Lord Siva with Meenakshi, the local Goddess, is believed to have taken place. This marriage is nothing but a link between the earth and heaven. Temple, the fulcrum.