temple city of Madurai is situated at a distance of 307 miles south of Madras on the main
railway line. This is decidedly the
oldest city of South India, trulyrepresenting Dravidian culture. European scholars have
compared it to Athens of Greece. It was in
the past the seat of the Tamil Academy (The Tamil Sangam). The city haschanged masters
many a time, yet retained the essentials of culture.
History is obscure about the antiquity of this
city. However, it is known that the Pandyan kings were the earliest rulers of
Madurai. The first king of Ceylon, Vijaya (500 B.C.), was the son-in-law of a Pandyan
king. Megasthenes in 320 B.C. described Madurai as having been ruled by a Pandyan
Princess. The ancient Greeks and Romans had intimate trade relations with Madurai, and
Ptolemy refers to 'Modoura' as the Mediterranean Emporium of the South.