Madurai Kanchi describes thus the massive fort around Madurai — ‘the four entrances were so lofty that a full-grown elephant with a man on its back entered the gate without the man having to lower the flag post he held!’ Perhaps that’s why Madurai came to be known as naan-mada-koodal (meaning, the city with four entrances). “Sangam literature bears many references to fortifications and palaces in ancient Madurai. Inscriptions by Pandyas and Cholas also refer to a fort wall,” points out V Vedachalam, historian and epigraphist. “For instance, the Silapathikaram notes that flags fluttered atop the fort walls as Kannagi and Kovalan reached the city. Ilango Adigal even goes on to create a visual imagery where he says the flags were…

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