The Pandyan Empire (Tamil: பாண்டியர்) was an ancient Tamil dynasty. The Pandyas were one of the four Tamil dynasties (the other three being Chola, Chera and Pallava), which ruled South India until the 15th century CE. They initially ruled from Korkai, a seaport on the Southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, and in later times moved to Madurai. Pandyan was well known since the ancient period, with contacts, even diplomatic, reaching the Roman Empire; during the 13th century AD, Marco Polo mentioned it as the richest empire in existence. The Pandyan empire was home to temples including Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, and Nellaiappar Temple built on the bank of the river Thamirabarani in Tirunelveli.
The Pandyas of Southern India are believed to have been founded at least five to six centuries before the Christian Era with a very strong possibility of a more ancient date of establishment. Their recorded existence and mention are found in records dating to as early as 550 BCE. Emperor Augustus of Rome at Antioch knew of the Pandyan of Dramira and received a Pandyan ambassador with letters and gifts from this ancient Tamil Kingdom. Strabo described an ambassador to emperor Augustus Caesar from a South Indian King called Pandyan. The country of the Pandyas, Pandi Mandala, was described as Pandyan Mediterranea by Periplus and Modura Regia Pandyan by Ptolemy.