City Focus: Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Long before the start of Indus Valley civilisation and the establishment of the Aryan race in India, the land to the south of the Vindhya mountains, which we we now call peninsular India or colloquially as south India, was inhabited by the Dravidians. The time origin of Dravidian history is unknown, but the Tamil language is one of the oldest continuously used languages in the world. While major ancient languages like Latin and Sanskrit have no confirmed native speakers today, Tamil continues to be used although now it is in modern form. At the centre of Tamil culture and also right in the centre of the state of Tamil Nadu is the city of Madurai.

Situated by the banks of the Vaigai river and with the four gopuras of the Meenakshi Amman temple dominating the skyline, Madurai is one of the oldest continuously habitated and functioning cities in the world. No one really knows for sure how old the city is. Madurai was supposedly the home town of the three ancient Tamil Sangams or a period of generation of scholars who worked on literature. The original works from the first and second Sangams that predates Aryan history have been lost. The stories of the third Sangam are available to us today. The oldest stories about Madurai may actually be lost in history since the technology of documentation was scarce and unreliable. Continue reading