Madurai was the capital city of ancient Southern civilization. Madurai's cultural heritage goes back 2,500 years, and the city has been an important commercial center and has conducted trade as far as Rome and Greece since as early as 550 B.C.E. Madurai is one of the oldest continually inhabited city in the Indian peninsula, with a history dating all the way back to the Sangam period of the pre-Christian era. It was the seat of power of the Pandyan empire. The Sangam period poet Nakkeerar is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal episodes of Sundareswarar - that are enacted as a part of temple festival traditions even today. As early as the 3rd century BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai. Later many people from Rome and Greece visited Madurai and established trade with the Pandya kings.
In legend, the original town of Madurai, traditionally called ThenMadurai or Madurai of South was destroyed by a tsunami in ancient Kumari Kandam. The new city was home to the last Tamil Sangam in the early part of last Century. The great national poet Subramanya Bharathi worked as a Tamil language pandit / teacher in Sethupathy High School during the early 20th century. There is a village town in the neighbouring district of Dindigul called Vada Madurai, and another in the neighbouring district of Sivagangai called Manamadurai.
Madurai city has an area of 52 kmē, within an urban area now extending over as much as 130 kmē, It has an average elevation of 101 meters above mean sea level. The climate is dry and hot, with North East Monsoon rains during October-December. Temperatures during summer reach a maximum of 40 and a minimum of 26.3 degrees celsius,though temperatures over 43 degrees celsius are not uncommon. Winter temperatures range between 29.6 and 18 degrees Celsius. The average annual rainfall is about 85 cm.