As per legend, the district of Madurai was originally a forest known as Kadambavanam. One day, a farmer named Dhananjaya while passing through the forest, saw Indra worshipping a swayambhu, a self-created Lingam, under kadamba tree. The farmer Dhananjaya immediately reported this to King Kulasekara Pandya. Then Kulasekara Pandya cleared the forest area and constructed a temple around the Lingam. Settlement was also planned with the temple as its centre. On the day of naming the place, Lord Shiva is said to have appeared and drops of nectar from his hair fell there. Thus, the place was named Madurai which means `sweetness` in Tamil language.
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar twin temple is the pivot around which the district of Madurai evolved. The temple grew with the contribution of each dynasty and victorious monarchs, into an enormous complex extending over an area of sixty five thousand square meters. This temple first came in to being about two thousand years ago and was substantially expanded during the regime of Thirumalai Nayak from A.D. 1623 to A.D.1655. Lord Siva in his incarnation as Sundareswarar and his fish-eyed spouse, Meenakshi, are enshrined in this twin temple. There are four massive gateways enclosing these two shrines. Another temple of importance in this district is the Thirupparankundram temple. This temple is situated eight kilometres to the south of Madurai Railway Junction. It is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya and its innermost shrine is cut out of a solid rock. kadamba tree Alagar Koil is another major temple situated at a distance of twenty one kilometers to the North-east of Madurai. It is a celebrated Vishnu Temple dedicated to Lord Alagar and situated on a hill amidst panoramic surroundings. The shrine is known as Alagarkoil and the hill is called Solaimalai. The temple also contains a number of beautiful carvings and makes the visit a rewarding experience. Palamudirsolai is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramaniya which is situated atop the Hill.