Counted as one of the top tourist attractions of Madurai, Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal is a priced possession of the Tamil Nadu state. Located 2 km south eastwards of the very popular Meenakshi Amman Temple, this palace is an excellent example of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, which is an amalgam of Dravidian and Islamic architectures.
The palace was constructed by King Thirumalai Nayak, one of the rulers of Nayaka Dynasty of Madurai in 1636 AD. The palace originally was four times bigger than what is seen today and was the official residence of the ruler. Considered as one of the wonders of the South during its peak days, Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal had extremely rich interiors as well as exteriors.
History and Architecture
Thirumalai Nayak was one of the most prominent of Nayaka rulers in Madurai, known for commissioning various grand structures in the region. It is believed that during the 17th century, the King used the services of an architect from Italy for the palace. Though the grandson of King Thirumalai removed most of the wood carvings and jewels to construct his own palace but the structure was restored by the Lord Napier, the Governor of Madras, between 1866 and 72. The Dance Hall, the Entrance Gate and the Main Hall that are seen today are the result of this restoration.
The main aim of Ruler Thirumalai Nayak was construction of such a palace that would be considered the grandest one in Southern India. The grandness of the exteriors and the interiors had surpassed its contemporaries in India. The palace was quite popular for its gigantic pillars with wideness of around 19 feet and height of 82 feet. On entering the palace, one is welcomed by a huge courtyard, bounded by circular pillars and a garden.
Interiors of the Palace
The palace was segregated majorly into 2 parts- Swarga Vilasam (Celestial Pavilion) and Ranga Vilasam. These 2 portions consisted of armory, residence of the royalty, apartments, shrine, royal bandstand, theatre, palanquin place, a garden and a pond. The dancing hall and the courtyard are not to be missed. Swarga Vilasam or Celestial Pavilion was the throne-room.
Highlights of Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
The most notable feature of Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal is stucco work done on the arches and domes of the palace. The daunting structure and the massive pillars are no less than architectural wonders. There are a total of 248 pillars. Now a national monument, the palace structure that is seen today is the main residence of the king.
Sound & Light Show
06.45 pm to 07.35 pm (English)
08.00 pm to 8.50 pm (Tamil)