Madurai is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the third largest city and the second largest municipal corporation in Tamil Nadu. Located on the banks of River Vaigai, it has been a major settlement for two millennia and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
Madurai is closely associated with the Tamil language as all the 3 primary congregation of Tamil scholars, the Tamil Sangam (3rd century BC to 3rd century CE), were held in the city. The recorded history of the city goes back to the 3rd century BC, mentioned by Megasthenes (350 – 290 BC), the Greek ambassador to India, and Kautilya (370–283 BC), the minister of the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (born 340 BC, ruled 320 – 298 BC).
The city is believed to be of significant antiquity and has been ruled, at different times, by the Early Pandyas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Later Pandyas, Ma'bar Sultanate, Madurai Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Chanda Sahib, Carnatic kingdom, and the British. The city has a number of historical monuments, the Meenakshi Amman Temple and Tirumalai Nayak Palace being the most prominent among them. The city celebrates several festivals, the most important being the annual 10 day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival (also called Chittirai festival), celebrated during April–May, that attracts 1 million visitors. Madurai is also known for Jallikattu, the annual bull taming event celebrated along with the Thai Pongal festival, organised in villages outside the city.
Madurai is an important industrial and educational hub of South Tamil Nadu. The city is house to various automobile, rubber, chemical and granite manufacturing industries. It has developed as a second-tier city for centres in Madurai. Madurai has important government educational institutes like the Madurai Medical College, Homoeopathic Medical College, Anna University, Madurai Law College, Agricultural College and Research Institute that provides education to aspirants in southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
Madurai is administered by a municipal corporation established in 1971 as per the Municipal Corporation Act. The city covers an area of 147.99 km and had a population of 1,561,000 in 2011. The city is also the seat of a bench of the Madras High Court, being one of only a few courts that exist outside the state capitals of India. Madurai is well-connected by road, rail and air.