History of Madurai

The history of Madurai dates back to the 3rd century BC, when Megasthanes visited it. It became an important trading center and had trading relations with as far as Rome and Greece.

Madurai flourished under the Pandiya rulers till the 10th century AD. However, in the year 920 AD, the Cholas defeated the Pandiyas and captured Madurai. They continued to reign over this place for the next three centuries. The Pandiyas once again came back to power in the year 1223 AD.

The Pandyas rule over Madurai was short lived as Alauddin Khilji sent his general, Malik Kafur to raid Madurai in 1311. The ill-equipped army of the Pandyas was easily defeated and the city was completely destroyed. The Khiljis were succeeded by the Tughlaqs shortly thereafter and Madurai became a province of the Delhi Sultanat in 1323. It remained under Muslim rule for nearly 50 years.

As the Delhi Sultanat slowly started disintegrating, Madurai became a part of the Vijaynagar Dynasty of Hampi, in 1371. The kings of the Vijaynagar Dynasty used to appoint Nayaks to rule the different regions held by them. The Nayaks in return had to pay a certain amount of tribute to the King.

With the death of Krishna Deva Rao in 1530, the Nayaks declared themselves rulers of the territories under them, which included Madurai. This was the beginning of the Nayak Dynasty. Thirumalai Nayak was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. He ruled from 1623 to 1659. Thirumalai Nayak is credited with the building of a number of structures, which includes Thirumalai Nayak Palace, Pudu Mandapam and Raja Gopuram of the Meenakshi Temple.

Madurai finally fell into the hands of the British in 1781, when George Procter became the first collector of this city.

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Last Updated on 9/15/2011