Madurai is the oldest inhabited city in the Indian peninsula. It is an ancient and prestigious city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu,situated on the banks of the River Vaigai in Madurai district.
The city is widely known as the Temple city , and is often also referred to as Koodal Maanagar, Cultural Capital of Tamil Nadu (Kalaachaara thalainagar), Malligai Maanagar (City of Jasmine), Thoonga Nagaram (Sleepless City), and Athens of the East. With a population of 1,203,095 according to the 2001 Census, it is the third largest city in Tamil Nadu.
Madurai was the capital city of ancient Southern civilization. Madurai's cultural heritage goes back 2,500 years, and the city has been an important commercial center and has conducted trade as far as Rome and Greece since as early as 550 B.C.E.