Madurai (Tamil: மதுரை, [mɐd̪ɯrəj]; formerly Madura) is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities 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 City of four junctions (Koodal Maanagar), Cultural center of Tamil Nadu (Kalaachaara thalainagar), City of Jasmine (Malligai Maanagar), Sleepless city (Thoonga Nagaram), Athens of the East and The City of Festivals (Thiruvizha nagaram).It is the third largest (was second largest from its origin till 2001) city by population in Tamil Nadu and second largest by area. 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 BCE.