Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal (Thirumalai Nayakar Palace) – Architecture

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal (Thirumalai Nayakar Palace) – Architecture
Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal was built in 1636, as a focal point of his capital at MaduraiThirumalai Nayak intended the palace to be one of the grandest in South India. The design and architecture is a blend of Dravidian and Islamic styles. The imposing edifice is famous for the “Stuccowork” on its domes and impressive arches. The Interior of the palace surpasses many of its Indian contemporaries in scale.

The interior is richly decorated whilst the exterior is treated in a more austere style. During the 18th century many structures that were part of this palace were pulled down or incorporated into buildings in the adjacent streets. Thirumalai Nayakar mahal is famous for its giant pillars. Pillar's height is 82 feet and width is 19 feet. The architecture is a blend of indigenous and Islamic forms. Lot of film shooting are taken in the Palace mainly because of big pillars.

The building we see today was the main Palace where the King lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. Many may not know that Thirumalai Nayakar excavated a large area of land to take out mud for making bricks used in the Mahal, to become a huge pond – Mariamman Theppa Kulam of today. It is here the annual Theppam (float festival) of Meenakshi Amman takes place in January/February with a lot of fan-fare. Thirumalai Nayak Palace, is a notable architectural masterpiece and one of the wonders of Tamil Nadu.

Upon entering into the gates of the palace, the visitor enters into present day’s huge central courtyard measuring 3,700 m² (41,979 sq. ft.). The courtyard is surrounded by massive circular pillars. Now it has a circular garden.

The palace was divided into two major parts, namely Swarga Vilasam (Celestial Pavilion) and Ranga Vilasam. Presently, only the Swargavilasa and a few adjacent buildings have survived. The Sorga Vilasam (Celestial Pavilion), measuring 75m x 52m, constructed entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a marvel of Indo-Saracenic architectural style. Among other striking features of the palace are the massive white pillars, several of which line the corridor that runs along the courtyard.

Connected by high decorated arches, these pillars measure 20m in height and have a circumference of 4m. Elsewhere, there are polished black stone pillars of varying heights. It was King Thirumalai Nayak’s grandson who demolished much of the fine structure and removed most of the jewels and woodcarvings in order to build his own palace in Tiruchirappalli. These two parts used to form a complex that housed the royal residence, theater, shrine, apartments, place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond, armory, palanquin place and even a garden.

The part that consists of its courtyard and the dancing hall is of particular interest. A fascinating feature of this vast complex is construction of 12 meters high massive walls that used to run around the complex and was present till a century ago. 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 domed structure in the centre is supported by stone ribs and is held up by massive circular columns toppe and linked by pointed scalloped arches with an arcaded gallery opening into the nave above the side aisles.

The square building in the dome-shaped hall is made of black stone. It consists of a chamber made of ivory and inside the chamber lies the bejeweled throne. The king used the throne during the Durbar and also during religious functions such as Navaratri. On the western side of the Swargavilasa, there used to be a ''Harem'' along with the queen's apartments. They no longer exist now. There is a room on the southwest portion of the complex that was used by the queen while listening to music and literary discourses. Natakshala, the drama hall, was in the northwest corner of the building. On the NE square there is a shrine dedicated to goddess Rajarajeswari. 

Materials Used:
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.
Light & Sound Shows:
The palace is well equipped to perform Light & Sound shows depicting the story of Silapathikaram both in Tamil and English is held at evenings.

1 comment:

Rithish said...

Wow, wonderful post about Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal in Madurai. Thanks for sharing about this place. This blog really helps people to plan for trips. If anyone wants to travel Madurai by bus then book bus tickets in Abinaya Travels.