Madurai is one of the South India's great temple towns and is fondly known as the 'Athens of the East'. These temples are synonymous with the celebrated Meenakshi Temple. The rich cultural heritage of Madurai has passed on from the great Tamil era more than 4000 years ago. Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India, situated on the banks of river Vaigai, with a rich history dating back to the period of Sangam in the pre- Christian era.
During the reign of great Pandya kings Madurai was considered as the capital city. A great temple was built by the Pandyan King Kulasekhara and created a lotus shaped city around this temple. The legends believe that the Lord Shiva came here to marry Devi Meenakshi, few drops of nectar fell from his matted locks and blessed the land and its people. The city got its name Madhurapuri, from the Divine nectar (Madhu) which was showered on the city, which was later shortened to Madurai. The city is also well-known for its sweet-scented jasmine flowers.
Rameshwaram, is yet another major pilgrim centre of India, located in the Gulf of Mannar just 175 kilometers from Madurai. It is the gardens of coral reefs and the picturesque locales of the island which are worth attractive. The popular place of pilgrimage is Ramanathaswamy Temple in this locale.