Another artistic one of a kind mammoth structure is a beauty and blend of Indo-Sarcenic and Dravidian 17th century architecture is monumental. The vastness of the courtyard. The pillars and the carvings and painting is a real treat to our eyes. The museum and the light and sound show is very interesting that could take us back in time. Though many tourists feel that this splendid landmark needs better maintenance, this place is worth a visit if you are in Madurai.
“Local authorities should look at the graffiti damages on the pillars and walls and should implement some serious care of maintenance to preserve the beauty as it was built with the taste by king Thirumalai Nayakkar in 1636 AD” – says a tourist.
THE HISTORY of Nayakkar Mahal
Madurai was under the rule of Nayak’s Kingdom from 1545 till 1740’s and Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) was one of their greatest kings who built various aesthetic buildings in and around Madurai. During the 17th centuries the Madurai Kingdom had Portuguese, Dutch and other Europeans as traders, missionaries and visiting travellers. Tirumalai Nayak is believed to have recruited the services of an Italian architect, for the construction of this Palace.
King Thirumalai is popular for the legacy he left behind with marvelous 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 and made a water way from river Vaigai to this temple tank. There were polished black stone pillars of varying heights. Thirumalai Nayak’s grandson demolished much of the fine structure and removed most of the jewels and woodcarvings in order to build his own palace in Tiruchirapalli.
Thirumali Nayakkar 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. Among the beautiful domes and arches, one of the domes stands without the support of girder is an architectural capability of everlasting wonder and beauty.
The structure was constructed using foliated bricks with the combination of stucco called chunnam (shell lime mixed with egg white) to obtain a smooth and glossy texture. The steps leading up to the hall were formerly flanked by two equestrian statues of excellent workmanship. Among other striking features of the palace are the massive white pillars, several of which lines up along the corridor of the courtyard are connected by highly decorated arches. The pillars supporting the arches are about 40 feet tall, joined by foliated brickwork that carries a valance and an entablature rising more than 60 feet high. The pavilions topped with finials that were covered with gold on either side of the courtyard.
The Mahal is located in Palace road, 2 kilometres 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.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The Palace is open for visitors between 9.00 AM 1.00 PM and again between 2.00 PM and 5.00 PM.
Light and Sound show in English at 6.45 PM and at 8.45 PM in Tamil language.
Tickets for the show: Adults Rs.10.00 and half price for Children.
For current updates, please visit Tamilnadu tourism website.