An ancient temple city in Tamil Nadu, on a site which is at least 1 500 years old. Capital of the Pāṇḍya dynasty, and subsequently part of the Vijayanagara empire, Madurai flourished under the patronage of the Nayaka ruler Tirumala (1623–60). It was he who was responsible for the construction of most of the city's best-known temple, the spectacular Mīṉākṣī-Sundareśvara complex, named after Madurai's tutelary goddess, Mīṉākṣī, and her consort Sundareśvara (a form of Śiva). (Madurai's main annual festival—the twelve day Chittirai festival—celebrates their wedding and the goddess's coronation.) The city remains at the heart of Dravidian culture, and a major pilgrimage site.