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Madurai is a major city and cultural headquarters in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and the 31st largest urban agglomeration in India. Madurai is the third largest city by area and third largest city by population in Tamil Nadu. Located on the banks of River Vaigai, Madurai 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, and the third Tamil Sangam, a major congregation of Tamil scholars, is said to have been held in the city. The recorded history of the city goes back to the 3rd century BCE, being mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India, and Kautilya, a minister of the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Signs of human settlements and Roman trade links dating back to 300BC are evident from excavations by Archeological Survey of India in Manalur. The city is believed to be of significant antiquity and has been ruled, at different times, by the Pandyas, Cholas, Madurai Sultanate, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Carnatic kingdom, and the British. The city has a number of historical monuments, with the Meenakshi Amman Temple and Tirumalai Nayak Palace being the most prominent. Madurai is an important industrial and educational hub in South Tamil Nadu. The city is home to various automobile, rubber, chemical and granite manufacturing industries. It has developed as a second-tier city for information technology (IT), and some software companies have opened offices in Madurai. The Tamil Nadu government has planned a satellite town for Madurai near Thoppur. Madurai has important government educational institutes like the Madurai Medical College, Homeopathic Medical College, Madurai Law College, Agricultural College and Research Institute. Madurai city is administered by a municipal corporation established in 1971 as per the Municipal Corporation Act. Madurai is the second corporation in Tamil Nadu next to Chennai corporation. The city covers an area of 242.97 km2 and had a population of 1,017,865 in 2011. The city is also the seat of a bench of the Madras High Court, one of only a few courts outside the state capitals of India. ETYMOLOGY 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. 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. 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. Tevaram, the 7th- or 8th-century Tamil compositions on Shiva by the three prominent Nayanars (Saivites), namely Appar, Sundarar and Thirugnanasambandar address the city as Thirualavai. 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" derived from an older Dravidian source. HISTORY Madurai has been inhabited since at least the 3rd century BCE. Megasthenes may have visited Madurai during the 3rd century BCE, with the city referred as "Methora" in his accounts. 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. Madurai is also mentioned in Kautilya's (370–283 BCE) Arthashastra. Sangam literature like Maturaikkāñci records the importance of Madurai as a capital city of the Pandyan dynasty. 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), and also in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. 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. The Pandyas were outsted from Madurai by the Chola dynasty during the early 9th century. 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. After the death of Kulasekara Pandian (1268–1308 CE), Madurai came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate. The Madurai Sultanate then seceded from Delhi and functioned as an independent kingdom until its gradual annexation by the Vijayanagar Empire in 1378 CE. Madurai became independent from Vijayanagar in 1559 CE under the Nayaks. 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. In 1801, Madurai came under the direct control of the British East India Company and was annexed to the Madras Presidency. The British government made donations to the Meenakshi temple and participated in the Hindu festivals during the early part of their rule. 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. In 1837, the fortifications around the temple were demolished by the British. The moat was drained and the debris was used to construct new streets – Veli, Marat and Perumaal Mesthiri streets. The city was constituted as a municipality in 1866 CE. The British government faced initial hiccups during the earlier period of the establishment of municipality in land ceiling and tax collection in Madurai and Dindigul districts under the direct administration of the officers of the government. The city, along with the district, was resurveyed between 1880 and 1885 CE and subsequently, five municipalities were constituted in the two districts and six taluk boards were set up for local administration. Police stations were established in Madurai city, housing the headquarters of the District Superintendent. It was in Madurai, in 1921, that Mahatma Gandhi, pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India, first adopted the loin cloth as his mode of dress after seeing agricultural labourers wearing it. Leaders of the independence movement in Madurai included N.M.R. Subbaraman and Mohammad Ismail Sahib. The Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act passed by the government of Madras Presidency under C. Rajagopalachari in 1939 removed restrictions prohibiting Shanars and Dalits from entering Hindu temples. The temple entry movement was first led in Madurai Meenakshi temple by independence activist A. Vaidyanatha Iyer in 1939. ARCHITECTURE Madurai is built around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which acted as the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai. The city is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular streets around the temple. Vishwanatha Nayak (1159–64 CE), the first Madurai Nayak king, redesigned the city in accordance with the principles laid out by Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: śilpa śāstra, also anglicised as silpa sastra meaning rules of architecture) related to urban planning. These squares retain their traditional names of Aadi, Chittirai, Avani-moola and Masi streets, corresponding to the Tamil month names and also to the festivals associated. The temple prakarams (outer precincts of a temple) and streets accommodate an elobrate festival calendar in which dramatic processions circumambulate the shrines at varying distances from the centre. The temple chariots used in processions are progressively larger in size based on the size of the concentric streets. Ancient Tamil classics record the temple as the center of the city and the surrounding streets appearing liken a lotus and its petals. The city's axes were aligned with the four quarters of the compass, and the four gateways of the temple provided access to it. The wealthy and higher echelons of the society were placed in streets close to the temple, while the poorest were placed in the fringe streets. With the advent of British rule during the 19th century, Madurai became the headquarters of a large colonial political complex and an industrial town; with urbanisation, the social hierarchical classes became unified. DEMOGRAPHICS Madurai has a population of 1,561,129. According to 2011 census based on per-expansion limits, Madurai had a population of 1,017,865 with a sex-ratio of 999 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 100,324 were under the age of six, constituting 51,485 males and 48,839 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 6.27% and .31% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the city was 81.95%, compared to the national average of 72.99%. There were a total of 391,315 workers, comprising 1,224 cultivators, 2,178 main agricultural labourers, 11,282 in house hold industries, 348,849 other workers, 27,782 marginal workers, 388 marginal cultivators, 616 marginal agricultural labourers, 1,611 marginal workers in household industries and 25,167 other marginal workers. The urban agglomeration had a population of 1,465,625. Madurai metropolitan area constitutes the third largest metropolitan area in Tamil Nadu and the 31st in India. According to the religious census of 2011, Madurai had 85.8% Hindus, 8.5% Muslims, 5.2% Christians and 0.5% others. Tamil is spoken by most, and the standard dialect is the Madurai Tamil dialect. Saurashtrian is the mother tongue of the Patnūlkarars who migrated from Gujarat in the 16th century CE. Roman Catholics in Madurai are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madurai, while Protestants are affiliated with the Madurai-Ramnad Diocese of the Church of South India. In 2001, Slum-dwellers comprise 32.6 per cent of the total population, much higher than the national average of 15.05 per cent. The increase in growth rate to 50 per cent from 1971 to 1981 is due to the city's upgrade to a municipal corporation in 1974 and the subsequent inclusion of 13 Panchayats into the corporation limits. The decline in the population growth rate between 1981 and 2001 is due to the bifurcation of Madurai district into two, Madurai and Dindigul in 1984, and the subsequently of part of the city into the Theni district in 1997. The compounded annual growth rate dropped from 4.10 per cent during 1971–81 to 1.27 per cent during 1991–2004. RELIGIOUS SITES Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the south side of the Vaigai River in Madurai and is one of the most prominent landmarks of the city. It is dedicated to Meenakshi and her consort, Sundareswarar. The complex houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 45–50 metres in height, the tallest being the southern tower, 51.9 metres high. There are also two golden sculptured vimana (shrines) over the sanctum of the main deities. The temple is a significant symbol for Tamils and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure was built between 1623-55 CE. The temple attracts on average 15,000 visitors a day, which grows to around 25,000 on Fridays. There are an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple, and it was in the list of top 30 nominees for the "New7Wonders of the World". Koodal Azhagar Temple is a Vishnu temple located in the city. It has idols of the Navagraha (nine planet deities), which are otherwise found only in Shiva temples. Alagar Koyil is a celebrated Vishnu temple 21 kilometres northeast of Madurai situated on the foothills of Solaimalai. The deity, Azhagar, is believed to be the brother of Meenakshi, the presiding deity at the Meenakshi temple. The festival calendars of these two temples overlap during the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam festival. Pazhamudircholai, one of the other six abodes of the Hindu god Murugan, is located atop the Solaimalai hill. Tirupparankunram is a hill 8 kilometres away from Madurai where the Hindu god Murugan is said to have married Deivanai. The temple is the first among the Six Abodes of Murugan and is one of the most visited tourist spots in Madurai, next only to the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The temple has a wide range of Hindu gods carved on the walls. Kazimar Big Mosque is the oldest Islamic place of worship in the city. It was constructed under the supervision of Kazi Syed Tajuddin, who is a descendant of Islamic Prophet Muhammad and the Madurai Maqbara is located inside the mosque. Kazi Syed Tajuddin came from Oman and received the piece of land as a gift from the Pandyan ruler Kulasekara Pandyan I, during the 13th century for the construction of the mosque. Goripalayam Mosque is located in Gorippalayam, the name of which is derived from the Persian word gor ("grave") and the graves of Sulthan Alauddin, Sulthan Shamsuddeen and Sulthan Habibuddin who are part of the Delhi Sultanate who ruled Madurai for a shorter reign are found here. Tirupparankunram Dargah is located at the top of the Thiruparankundram hill where the cemetery of Sultan Sikandhar Badushah the then ruler of Jeddah and Madurai who travelled to India along with Sulthan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed of Ervadi during 12th century is located. St. Mary’s Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madurai. CSI church at South gate falling under the Madurai-Ramnad CSI Diocese is the head quarters for CSI Christians in the city. WIKIPEDIA



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