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Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal

Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal

Thirumalai Nayakkar was a great patron of art and architecture and the Dravidian architecture evolved into the Madurai style. He rebuilt and renovated a number of old temples of the Pandya period. His palace known as the Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a notable architectural masterpiece.Thirumalai Nayak ruled Madurai between 1623 to 1659 CE. He was the most notable of the thirteen Madurai Nayak rulers in the
17th century. His contributions are found in the many splendid buildings and temples of Madurai. His kingdom was under constant threat from the armies of Delhi Sultanate and the other neighbouring Muslim kingdoms, which he managed to repulse successfully. His territories comprised much of the old Pandya territories which included Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Madurai districts, Aragalur in southern Tamil Nadu and some territories of territories of the Travancore kingdom.
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Thirumalai Nayakkar’s
capital was Madurai. The royal residence had been moved from there to Thiruchirapalli by his predecessor, but Thirumalai moved it back to Madurai again, notwithstanding the strategic importance of Thiruchirapallai, with its almost impregnable rock, its never failing Cauvery river and its healthy climate, was by nature far superior to Madurai, where the fort was on level ground, the Vaigai was usually dry and fever was almost endemic. The reason for this move is claimed to be due to a dream of Thirumalai Nayakkar.

Thirumalai is best remembered for the many splendid public buildings he built in Madurai. Despite so many upheavals, Thirumalai Nayak’s reign is famous for the legacy he left behind in numerous constructions. He added a tower to the Meenakshi temple, the unfinished tower called the Raja Gopuram and added a hall. He is credited for excavating the huge artificial pond, or Teppakulam.

He also built the beautiful palace called Thirumalai Nayak Mahal – also called Thirumalai Nayak Palace. The palace was divided into two major parts, namely Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa. The royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armoury, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden were situated in these two portions. The courtyard and the dancing hall are the major centres of attraction of the palace.

Thirumalai Nayak was a great patron of art and architecture and the Dravidian architecture evolved into the Madurai style. He rebuilt and renovated a number of old temples of the Pandya period. His palace known as the Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a notable architectural masterpiece.Thirumalai Nayak ruled Madurai between 1623 to 1659 CE. He was the most notable of the thirteen Madurai Nayak rulers in the 17th century. His contributions are found in the many splendid buildings and temples of Madurai. His kingdom was under constant threat from the armies of Delhi Sultanate and the other neighbouring Muslim kingdoms, which he managed to repulse successfully. His territories comprised much of the old Pandya territories which included Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Madurai districts, Aragalur in southern Tamil Nadu and some territories of territories of the Travancore kingdom.

Thirumalai Naick, the builder of this magnificent palace ruled as the seventh ruler of the Madurai Naick dynasty. He ruled Madurai from 1623 to 1659 A.D. He was the master builder of this age and he made magnificent contributions in the realms of art and architecture. Pudumantapam (vasantha mandapam) opposite to east gate of Meenakshi Amman Temple was constructed by Thirumalai Naick. He also dug out the Vandiyur Teppakkulam, one of the worth seeing places in Madurai city. Traditions says that when the soil was excavated to make bricks for the construction of this palace, naturally a big pit was formed. Thirumalai Naick converted this pit in to a beautiful tank and constructed a small mantapam at the centre. He also established beautiful buildings at Thirupparankundram, Alagarkovil and Srivilliputtur also.

Thirumalaii Nayak took great personal interest in the erection of the Pudumandapa at the Madurai temple. There are some account which recount that on one occasion, Sumandramurti Achari, the principal architect, was so deeply engrossed in sculpting a relief of the stone elephant eating sugarcane, an incident in the temple’s puranic history, that he did not notice the Nayak standing by him. The Nayak rolled some betel leaves and areca nuts and handed them to him. Thinking that it was an assistant who had done so, he took them and began to chew them without looking around. When he realised that it was the Nayak himself, he was so much affected that he damaged the two fingers of his that had taken the betel leaves. Moved by his devotion to duty, the Nayak gave him many gifts.

Invasion by the Bijapur army
Around 1638, the Vijayanagara King Ranga, succeeded to the throne of Chandragiri and he soon resolved to put an end to the independence of Thirumalai and prepared to march southwards. Thirumalai had meanwhile persuaded the Vijayanagar governors of Tanjore and Gingee (in south Arcot) to join him in his defiance of their mutual suzerain, and thus Ranga was left with only Mysore, of all his feudatories, to support him. The Nayak governor of Thanjavur eventually left his allies, sent in his submission, and betrayed the other Nayaks

Mysore War
The Vijayanagar ruler had taken refuge with the king of Mysore, and now these two monarchs combined to endeavour to recover those portions of the Vijayanagara territories, which had recently been captured by Golconda. Thirumalai, making use of the opportunity to settle a long-standing quarrel with the kingdom of Mysore, persuaded the Sultans of Golconda and Bijapur to help him attack Mysore from the south. The Sultan of Golconda accepted and attacked Mysore and extinguished the Vijayanagara Empire and humbled the kingdom of Mysore. In return Thirumalai Nayak the Thanjavur Nayak and paid large amounts as tribute to the Golconda Sultan.

Rebellions by feudatories
During Thirumalai’s reign, two rebellions occurred amongst his feudatories. The first was by the Setupati of Ramnad. It was due to an order of Thirumalai in 1635 regarding the succession to the chief of that territory, which was resisted by the rightful claimant. Thirumalai was successful in placing his nominee on the throne and in imprisoning the rival aspirant, but he was ultimately compelled to allow the latter to succeed. His heir reciprocated this action by supporting Thirumalai in his final war with Mysore.
 

Thirumalai Naik died in 1659. He was between sixty-five and seventy years of age at the time and had reigned for thirty-six years. His territories at his death comprised the present districts of Madurai (including the territories of Ramnad and Sivaganga), Thirunelveli, Coimbatore, Salem and Thiruchirapalli, with Pudukkotai and parts of Travancore. According to legends that were current regarding his death,a story states that he had an intrigue with the wife of a priest and that as he was returning from visiting her one dark night he fell into a well and was killed.

 

Nayakkar Palace Ceiling Architecture

Nayakkar Palace Ceiling Architecture

Nayakkar Palace Auditorium

Nayakkar Palace Auditorium

Nayakkar Palace - Light & Sound Show

Nayakkar Palace - Light & Sound Show

 
 
 

 

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