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Madurai is surrounded by eight hillocks that once served to guard the city from invading forces. Of these hills, three small but prominent hills (Yanaimalai, Pasumalai and Nagamalai — Elephant, Cow, and Snake Hill respectively) have several interesting legends associated with them.
Samanar Hills, which is opposite to Nagamalai, is of historical importance. Samanars (Tamil Jain) were said to have stayed on the hill, fearing persecution from the then rulers of Madurai. Many stone statues and other artifacts are present in Nagamalai.
The top of the hill consists of naturally formed rocks which resemble the form of a crocodile. Even though there is no water source at the top of the hill, it has an permanent flow of water on one side at Puluthu, which is a herbal water which can be directly drunk.
Nagamalai is a notable educational hub in the outskirts of the Madurai city. The Madurai Kamaraj University is located in close proximity to Nagamalai. It accommodates a number of other educational institutions such as:
- Nadar Mahajana Sangam S. Vellaichamy Nadar College
- M.N.U. Jayaraj Nadar Higher Secondary School
- S.B.O.A. Matriculation Higher Secondary School
- Sirumalar Girls Higher Secondary School
- Akshara Matriculation Higher Secondary School
- M.N.U.J. Annapakiyam Matriculation Higher Secondary School
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