Madurai (formerly Madura) is the third largest city, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu with a population of over 1.2 million (census2001). Located on the River Vaigai, Madurai has been a major settlement for two millennia. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District. The capital of the Pandyan kingdom was initially Korkai, around 600 BCE, and was later moved to Koodal (now Madurai) during the reign of Nedunj Cheliyan I. Madurai is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and Madurai Nayak kings in the Dravidian style of architecture. It is also one of India's most prominent Hindu pilgrimage centres.
Madurai is also called as City of Junction (Koodal nagaram), City of Jasmine (Malligai maanagar), Temple city (Koil maanagar), City that never sleeps (Thoonga nagaram) and City of four junctions (Naanmada koodal).
Madurai's recorded history goes back to the 3rd century BC and the city is mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India and Kautilya, the minister of the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. The city was the principal administrative and cultural centre of the Pandyan dynasty which ruled over the southern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala till the first half of the 14th century AD. In about 1311, the Pandyan dynasty was overthrown by the Delhi Sultanate which established the province of Ma'bar which later became independent as the Ma'bar Sultanate. When the Ma'bar Sultanate began to decline in the latter years of the 14th century, Madurai was absorbed into the Vijayanagar Empire. The viceroys of the Vijayanagar Empire established the Madurai Nayak kingdom and ruled as independent kings from 1559 to 1736. After a brief period of occupation by Chanda Sahib and the Carnatic kingdom, Madurai was annexed by the British East India Company in 1801.