Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th century palace was built by King Thirumalai Nayak, one of the Madurai Nayak rulers in 1636 AD in the city of Madurai, India. This Palace was built with the help of an Italian Architect and is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic and European styles. The building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace where the king lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. In its heyday, Tirumalai Nayak Palace at Madurai was considered to be one of the wonders of the South.

Location
The palace is located in the city of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu state of India. The palace is situated 2 km south east of the Meenakshi Amman Temple.

History
The Nayaks of Madurai ruled this former Kingdom from 1545 till 1740’s and Thirumalai Nayak ( 1623- 1659) was one of their greatest kings that line notable for various buildings in and around Madurai. During the 17th centuries the Madurai Kingdom had Portuguese, Dutch and other Europeans as traders, missionaries and visiting travelers. Tirumala Nayak is believed to have recruited the services of an Italian architect, (apparently one of the many unknown European adventurers who swarmed these regions before the advent of British) for the construction of his Palace.

Design and construction
Built in 1636, as a focal point of his capital at Madurai, Thirumalai Nayak intended the palace to be one of the grandest in South India. The design and architecture is a blend of Dravidian, Islamic and European styles. It is the Interior of the Palace surpasses many of its Indian contemporaries in style and details while the exterior is minimalistic by comparison. Madura beats

Courtyard
Upon entering into the gates of the palace, the visitor enters into present day’s huge central courtyard measuring 3,700 sq.m (41,979 sq.feet). The Courtyard is surrounded by massive circular pillars. Now it has a circular garden.

Interior
The palace was divided into two major parts, namely Swarga Vilasam (Celestial Pavilion) and Ranga Vilasam. The royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armory, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden were situated in these two portions. The courtyard and the dancing hall are the major center of attractions of the palace. The Celestial Pavilion (Swarga Vilasam) was used as the throne-room and has an arcaded octagon covered by a dome 60”“70 feet high. The pointed ceiling or dome in the centre is supported by stone ribs is held up by massive circular columns topped by piers and linked by pointed scalloped arches, with an arcaded gallery opening into the nave above the side aisles.

Materials
The structure was constructed using foliated brickwork and the surface details and finish in exquisite stucco called chunnam using chunnam (shell lime) and (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. The pillars supporting the arches are 13m tall and are again joined by foliated brickwork that carries a valance and an entablature rising up to a height of 20 m. The decoration is done, (shell lime). The pavilions topped with finials that were covered with gold are on either side of the courtyard. ]]

Present day
After independence, the Thirumalai Palace was declared as a national monument and is now under the protection of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department. The time for the visit to the palace is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the payment of the entrance fee.

Light & Sound shows
The palace is well equipped to perform Light & Sound shows depicting the story of Silappathikaram both in tamil and english languages.

Getting There
The Palace is located in the eastern side of the city, around 1.2 km South East of the Meenakshi Amman Temple in the city of Madurai. Madurai being a popular tourist center is well connected by railways and has daily flights to Mumbai and Chennai.

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