Madurai’s unique link with the jasmine probably dates back to 300 BC or earlier. There are extensive references to the flower in Sangam literature — the Tamil poems of the period 300 BC to AD 300,which are believed to have been composed or written at the Sangam or assembly of Tamil scholars, regularly held in Madurai during that period. One of the Sangam poems describes how Pari, a Tamil king, could not bear to see a beautiful and delicate mullai jasmine creeper lying on the hard forest floor. And he gifted his royal chariot to the plant so that the jasmine creeper could twine itself around it and rest more comfortably!
The Jasmine is mentioned in old Hindu scriptures and also in ancient works like the Mahabharata and Kamasutra.
Madurai has emerged as a major market for the malligai grown in its neighbourhood, and has evolved into the jasmine capital of India. The plant thrives in areas around Madurai such as Aruppukkottai, Natham, Melur, Thirumangalam, Perungudi, Uthappanaickanur, Ammainaickanur and Nilakottai — places blessed with the moist, well-drained, sandy loam soil.