Madurai

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Madurai (मदुरै) is a major city and district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the banks of River Vaigai, Madurai has been a major settlement for two millennia. Also known as Madura or Malyakuta was a Buddhist Kingdom visited by Xuanzang in 640 AD in South India.

Variants

Location

Origin of name

Madurai is one of the many temple towns in the state which is named after the groves, clusters or forests dominated by a particular variety of a tree or shrub and the same variety of tree or shrub sheltering the presiding deity. The region is believed to have been covered with Kadamba forest and hence called Kadambavanam.[1] The city is referred by various names including "Madurai", "Koodal", "Malligai Maanagar", "Naanmadakoodal" and "Thirualavai". The word Madurai may be derived from Madhura (sweetness) arising out of the divine nectar showered on the city by the Hindu god Shiva from his matted hair.[2] Another theory is that Madurai is the derivative of the word Marutham, which refers to the type of landscape of the Sangam age. A town in the neighbouring Dindigul district is called Vada Madurai (North Madurai) and another in Sivagangai district is called Manamadurai. The different names by which the city has been referred to historically are listed in the 7th-century poem Thiruvilayaadal puraanam written by Paranjothi Munivar.[3]

Koodal means an assembly or congregation of scholarly people, referring to the three Tamil Sangams held at Madurai. Naanmadakoodal, meaning the junction of four towers, refers to the four major temples for which Madurai was known for.[4] Tevaram, the 7th- or 8th-century Tamil compositions on Shiva by the three prominent Nayanars (Saivites), namely Appar,[5] Sundarar and Thirugnanasambandar, address the city as Thirualavai.[6] As per Iravatham Mahadevan, a 2nd-century BCE Tamil-Brahmi inscription refers to the city as matiray, an Old Tamil word meaning a "walled city".[7]

History

Madurai has been inhabited since at least the 3rd century BCE.[8] Megasthenes may have visited Madurai during the 3rd century BCE, with the city referred as "Methora" in his accounts.[9] The view is contested by some scholars who believe "Methora" refers to the north Indian city of Mathura, as it was a large and established city in the Mauryan Empire.[10] Madurai is also mentioned in Kautilya's (370–283 BCE)[11] Arthashastra.[12] Sangam literature like Maturaikkāñci records the importance of Madurai as a capital city of the Pandyan dynasty.[13] Madurai is mentioned in the works of Roman historians Pliny the Younger (61 – c. 112 CE), Ptolemy (c. 90 – c. CE 168), those of the Greek geographer Strabo (64/63 BCE – c. 24 CE),[14] and also in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.[15]

After the Sangam age, most of present-day Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, came under the rule of the Kalabhra dynasty, which was ousted by the Pandyas around 590 CE.[16] The Pandyas were ousted from Madurai by the Chola dynasty during the early 9th century.[17] The city remained under the control of the Cholas until the early 13th century, when the second Pandyan empire was established with Madurai as its capital.[18] After the death of Kulasekara Pandian (1268–1308 CE), Madurai came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate.[19] The Madurai Sultanate then seceded from Delhi and functioned as an independent kingdom until its gradual annexation by the Vijayanagar Empire in 1378 CE.[20] Madurai became independent from Vijayanagar in 1559 CE under the Nayaks.[21] Nayak rule ended in 1736 CE and Madurai was repeatedly captured several times by Chanda Sahib (1740 – 1754 CE), Arcot Nawab and Muhammed Yusuf Khan (1725 – 1764 CE) in the middle of 18th century.[22]

In 1801, Madurai came under the direct control of the British East India Company and was annexed to the Madras Presidency.[23] The British government made donations to the Meenakshi temple and participated in the Hindu festivals during the early part of their rule.[24] The city evolved as a political and industrial complex through the 19th and 20th centuries to become a district headquarters of a larger Madurai district.[25]

Visit by Xuanzang in 640 AD

Alexander Cunningham[26] writes that From Kanchipura, Hwen Thsang proceeded to the south for 3000 li, or 500 miles, to Mo-lo-kiu-cha[27] which M. Julien renders by Malakuta. In the southern part of the territory, towards the sea-coast, stood the mountain named Mo-la-ye, or Malaya, which produced sandal-wood. The country thus described is therefore the southern end of the peninsula, part of which is still called Malayalam and Malayawara, or Malabar ; I would accordingly read the Chinese syllables as an abbreviated form of Malayakuta. The circuit of the kingdom was 5000 li, or 833 miles, being bounded by the sea to the south, and by the province of Dravida to the north. As this estimate agrees almost exactly with the measurement of the end of the peninsula, to the south of the Kaveri river, the province of Malayakuta must have included the modern districts of Tanjor and Madura, on the east, with Coimbator, Cochin, and Travancore, on the west.

The position of the capital is difficult to fix, as a distance of 500 miles, to the south of Conjeveram, would take us out to sea beyond Cape Kumari, (Comorin). If we might read 1300 li, or 217 miles, instead of 3000 li, both bearing and distance would agree exactly with the position of the ancient city of


[p.550]: Madura, which was the capital of the southern end of the peninsula in the time of Ptolemy. It is possible that Kaulam (Quilon) may have been the capital at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit; but neither the distance nor the bearing agrees with the pilgrim's statement, as the place is not more than 400 miles to the south-west of Conjeveram. To the north-east of the capital there was a town named Charitrapura, or "Departure-town," which was the port of embarkation for Ceylon. If Madura was the capital, the "port-city" was probably Negapatam ; but, if Kaulam was the capital, the "port-city" must have been Ramnad (Ramanathapura). From this port, Ceylon was distant 3000 li, or 500 miles, to the south-east.

According to the writer of the ' Life of Hwen Thsang,[28]Malayakuta was not visited by the pilgrim, but described by hearsay, and the distance of 3000 li is said to be from the frontiers of Dravida. But this would only increase the difficulty by placing the capital of Malayakuta still further to the south. In a note to this passage,[29] M. Julieu quotes the Si-yu-ki as fixing the distance at 300 li, instead of 3000 li, as given in his translation of the Memoirs of Hwen Thsang. If this number is not a misprint, these different readings may show that there is some uncertainty as to the distance, as well as to the point of departure. I am inclined, therefore, to think that the original distances given in the memoirs and life of the pilgrim may perhaps have been 300 li, or 50 miles, from the frontiers of Dravida in the latter, and 1300 li,


[p.551]: or 217 miles, from the capital of Dravida in the former. In either case, the capital of Malayakuta would be fixed at Madura, which has always been one of the principal cities of Southern India.

According to Abu Rihan, and his copyist, Eashid-ud-din, Malya and Kutal (or Kunak) were two distinct provinces, the latter being to the south of the former, and the last, or most southerly district of India. It seems probable therefore, that Malyakuta is a compound name, formed by joining the names of two contiguous districts. Thus, Malya would answer to the district of Pandya, with its capital of Madura, and Kuta, or Kutal, to Travancore, with its capital of Kochin, the Kottiara of Ptolemy.

Hwen Thsang's omission of any mention of Chola may be explained by the fact that at the time of his visit the Chola-desa formed part of the great kingdom of the Cheras. Chola is, however, duly noticed by Ptolemy, whose Orthura regia Sornati must be Uriur the capital of Soranatha, or the king of the Sorinyae, that is the Soras, Choras or Cholas. Uriur is a few miles to the south-south-east of Trichinopoli. The Soringae are most probably the Syrieni of Pliny with their three hundred cities, as they occupied the coast between the Pandae and the Derangae or Dravidians.

According to M. Julien[30] Malyakuta was also called Chi-mo-lo, which I read as Jhi-mu-ra, because the initial syllable is the same as the second syllable of Chi-chi-to, or Jajhoti. Jhimura is perhaps only a variant form of the Limurike of Strabo, Ptolemy, and Arrian, and of the Damirice of the Peutingerian Tables. It would also appear to be the same name as Pliny's


[p.552]: Charmae, a people who occupied the western coast immediately above the Pandae.

Tn the Chino-Japanese map of India the alternative name of Malyakuta is Hai-an-men, which suggests a connection with Ptolemy's Aioi.

उत्तर मथुरा

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[31] ने लेख किया है ...उत्तर मथुरा (AS, p.92) बौध्दकालीन भारत के मथुरा या मधुरा नाम की दो नगरियों में से एक है। एक उत्तर की प्रसिद्ध मथुरा, दूसरी वर्तमान मदुरा (मद्रास) जो पांड्य देश की राजधानी थी। हरिषेण ने बृहत्कथा-कोश कथानक-21 में उत्तर मथुरा को भरत-क्षेत्र या उत्तरी भारत में माना है। घटजातक (सं. 454) में उत्तर-मथुरा के राजा महासागर और उसके पुत्र सागर का उल्लेख है। सागर श्रीकृष्ण का समकालीन था।

दक्षिणमधुरा

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[32] ने लेख किया है ...दक्षिणमधुरा (AS, p.423) बौद्ध काल में दक्षिण भारत में स्थित वर्तमान मदुरई या मदुरा (मद्रास) को कहा जाता था। दक्षिणमधुरा पांड्य देश की राजधानी थी। हरिषेण के बृहत्कथाकोश कथानक 7, 1 में इसका उल्लेख इस प्रकार है- 'अथ पांड्य महादेशे दक्षिणमधुराऽभवत् धनधान्य समाकीर्णा' उत्तर भारत की प्रसिद्ध नगरी मधुरा को उत्तर मधुरा की संज्ञा दी जाती थी। (अट्ठकथा पृष्ठ 118) 'मदुरा' वास्तव में मथुरा या मधुरा का रूपान्तर है।

मदुरै - मदुरई - मदुरा

मदुरै या मदुरई या मदुरा नगर तमिलनाडु के दक्षिण में वैगोई नदी के दाहिने किनारे पर स्थित है। यह दक्षिण भारत का एक बहुत प्राचीन नगर है, जो ईस्वी सन् की प्रथम शताब्दी में पाण्ड्य राजाओं की राजधानी था। वेनिस यात्री मार्कोपोलो पाण्ड्य राज्य में 1288 ई. में आया था, और उसने इस भूमि की सम्पन्नता तथा उसके व्यापार की समृद्धि का विवरण विस्तार से दिया है।

संगमयुगीन महाकाव्य शिलप्पादिकारम में मदुरा का एक सुसज्जित नगर के रूप में वर्णन किया गया है। मदुरा नगर का दूसरा नाम 'कदम्ब वन' था। चीनी पर्यटक युवानच्वांग ने इस नगर का उल्लेख 'मलकूट' नाम से किया है। यह कांजीवरम से 3,006 ली अर्थात् 750 किलोमीटर दूर था। तीसरी शताब्दी ईस्वी में पाण्ड्य देश में आधुनिक मदुरै, रामनाड, तिन्नेवेल्लि तथा ट्रावनकोर राज्य का दक्षिणी भाग आता था। मैगस्थनीज ने पाण्ड्य राजा का उल्लेख किया है। यह बात विशेष ध्यान देने योग्य है कि पाण्ड्य देश के लोगों के आभूषण समुद्री मोतियों के बने होते थे। मदुरा के पाण्ड्य शासक छठी शताब्दी के बाद आगामी तीन सौ वर्षों तक बादामी के चालुक्य और कांची के पल्लवों से संघर्ष करते रहे। तेरहवीं सदी तक तमिल देश में चोलों को परास्त करके पाण्ड्यों ने एक सशक्त शाक्ति के रूप में अपना स्थान बना लिया था। मअबर का सूबेदार अहसानशाह जलालुद्दीन ने मदुरै में अपना स्वतंत्र मुसलमानी राज्य स्थापित किया।


अलाउद्दीन ख़िलजी के समय मलिक काफ़ूर ने पाण्ड्यों की राजधानी मदुरै पर 1311 ई. में आक्रमण कर दिया। काफ़ूर ने मदुरा के अनेक मन्दिरों को नष्ट किया और सम्पत्ति को लूटा। लूट में यहाँ से 512 हाथी, 5,000 घोड़े तथा 500 मन हीरे, मोती, पन्ना, माणिक्य रत्न लूट ले गया। कालांतर में विजयनगर साम्राज्य ने 1370 ई. में मदुरा पर विजय प्राप्त की। विजयनगर का पतन होने पर मदुरा नायक वंश की राजधानी बनी। प्राचीन तमिल साहित्य में मदुरा का विशद् वर्णन मिलता है।

यह नगर देवालय, प्रशस्त राजमार्गों, सभा-भवनों मन्दिरों तथ सरोवरों से युक्त एक आकर्षक नगर था। यहाँ के भवन वास्तुशास्त्रीय पद्धति पर निर्मित किये गये थे। यहाँ दो बाज़ार लगते थे। एक दिन में और दूसरा रात्रि में। राजप्रासाद के चारों ओर अमात्यों, महत्त्वपूर्ण पदाधिकारियों, पुरोहितों तथा धनिकों के घर बने हुए थे। नगर के प्रधान राजमार्गों पर स्वच्छता की पर्याप्त व्यवस्था थी। नगर के बाहर वेश्याएँ रहती थीं। एक विद्वान् ने मदुरा की नगर संरचना पर टिप्पणी करते हुए लिखा है कि 'सदियों के नगर-निर्माण सम्बन्धी अनुभव के आधार पर निर्मित और सिद्धांतकारों के ग्रंथों में सुस्पष्टतः प्रतिपादित प्राचीन भारतीय नगर के निदर्श हम अयोध्या, कावेरीपट्टनम और मदुरा जैसे वस्तुतः विद्यमान नगरों के उन कलात्मक बिंबों में साकार हुआ पाते हैं, जिनका अंकन रामायण और शिलप्पादिकारम में पाते हैं।' प्रसिद्धि

मदुरै प्राचीन काल से ही सुन्दर सूती वस्त्रों तथा मोतियों के लिए प्रसिद्ध रहा है। कौटिल्य तथा टॉलमी ने मदुरा के वस्त्रों की प्रशंसा की है। इस नगर में अनेक भव्य मन्दिर हैं, जिनमें मीनाक्षी मन्दिर उल्लेखनीय हैं। मदुरै का गाँधी संग्रहालय भी बहुत प्रसिद्ध है। इस संग्रहालय का उद्घाटन 15 अप्रैल, 1959 में पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री पंडित जवाहरलाल नेहरू द्वारा करवाया गया था। गांधी जी की किताबों और पत्रों के अलावा दक्षिण भारतीय ग्रामोद्योगों एवं हस्तशिल्प के सुंदर संग्रह को इस संग्रहालय में देखा जा सकता है।

मीनाक्षी मन्दिर मदुरा नरेश तिरुमल्लाई नायक (1570 - 1642 ई.) तथा उसके वंशजों ने बनवाया था। यह दोहरा मन्दिर है। इससे एक सुन्दरेश्वर को तथा दूसरा उसकी पत्नी मीनाक्षी को समर्पित है। ऊँची दीवार से घिरी 850 फुट लम्बी तथा 725 फुट चौड़ी मुख्य भूमि में ये दोनों मन्दिर विस्तारित हैं। घेरे के चार किनारों में से प्रत्येक में मध्य भाग की ओर एक-एक गोपुर है। मन्दिर का मुख्य प्रवेश द्वार पूर्व की ओर है। जो 200 फुट लम्बे और 100 फुट चौड़े ढके हुए स्तम्भ युक्त मार्ग से जुड़ा है। अंतिम, घेरे के भीतर तीन खण्डों में मुख्य मन्दिर है। भीतरी कक्ष के ऊपर एक शिखर है, जिसकी चौरस छत इस तरह आगे निकली हुई कि मन्दिर के दक्षिण भाग में अनुलग्न मीनाक्षी का देवालय है, जो मुख्य मन्दिर का लघु रूप है। मीनाक्षी मन्दिर के सामने ही स्वर्ण कमल सरोवर है। भव्य स्थापत्य तथा सूक्ष्म शिल्प के दर्शन हमें मदुरा मन्दिर में एक साथ मिलते हैं।

संदर्भ: भारतकोश-मदुरै

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  30. 'Hiouen Tlisang," iii. 121.
  31. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.92
  32. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.423