|Location||2 km southeast of Meenakshi Temple, Madurai in Tamil Nadu|
|Significance||A classic example of the Indo-Saracenic Style of Architecture|
Designed by an Italian architect in 1636 AD, the Thirumalainayak Palace was the main palace where the King Thirumalainayak lived. The original palace, however, was four times bigger than the size of the present structure. The palace is a brilliant example of the Indo Saracenic style of architecture. Today the courtyard and the dance hall are the key attractions of the palace. The whole complex is enclosed by huge and high walls, running 300 m from east to west and 200 m from north to south. Thses walls have stood the taste of time till a hundred years ago. It was only during the 19th century that Lord Napier, the Governor of Madras between 1866 and 1872, paid heed to the palace and began several renovation work.
Thirumalainayak Palace Architecture
The Thirumalainayak palace symbolises the Indo Saracenic style of architecture. The Thirumalainayak palace was divided into two major parts – the Swargavilasa and the Rangavilasa. These two parts of the palace housed the royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armory, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, ponds and gardens. The king used to conduct dance and music performances in the palace on a daily basis. Chokkanatha Nayak, the king’s grandson, destroyed the palace and took the jewels away to other places. The large rectangular courtyard or the Swargavilasam stands even today abutting a few other buildings that have survived even to this day. The awe-inspiring structures are testimony to an era that boasted of glory and grandeur. The sizable courtyard covers an area of 3,900 sq m, being surrounded by gigantic circular pillars. The Throne Chamber lies to the west of this courtyard. The chamber is a huge room topped with a large octagonal dome. Moving further ahead, one comes across the Dance Hall. After India gained her Independence, the palace was declared a national monument. Today the Tamilnadu Archaeological Department takes care of this ancient treasure. The inner shrines of the palace are believed to have a history dating back much before the 16th century. There are numerous paintings and sculptures present even today to take the visitors by storm. The ornate ceilings bear paintings relating to various themes of the Shiavite and the Vaishnovite. The marriage of Sundareswarar with Devi Meenakshi has also been depicted through wonderful paintings.
The Thirumalainayak palace is open for visiting from 0900 hours to 1500 hours. An entry fee is to be paid in order to explore the ancient riches of the palace.
Light and Sound Show
The Thirumalainayak palace organises Light and Sound Show that enlivens the story of Silappathikaram. The show is held both in English and Tamil languages. The brilliant show is one’s chance of gaining an insight into the life of king Thirumalainayak. The show particularly stresses on his profound love for arts, his victories in battles and his affection for his people.
How to Reach
By Air: The Madurai Airport is located at a distance of 12 km from the city centre. There are daily flights from here to places like Chennai and Mumbai.
By Rail: The Madurai Railway Station is located within the city centre. There are regular trains connecting to places like Coimbatore, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari and other key destinations of south India.
By Road: A fabulous road-network connects Madurai to the major towns of Tamil Nadu and the surrounding areas.