In its era, Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal must have been the grandest palace in the entire region which forms the present day Tamil Nadu. You can easily conclude this by taking a peek at what remains today. Only a portion of this once gigantic palace remains. Yet it is considered to be one of the most significant palaces of Tamil Nadu. Originally it had two residential sections, a theatre, private temple, harem, royal bandstand, armoury, and gardens.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal has a courtyard surrounded by the huge pillars and intricately decorated arches. On the west side of the courtyard is the ‘Throne Chamber’ which has an octagonal dome. This chamber leads to another magnificent hall which was used as a dance hall. Today it houses an archaeological museum. On display in the museum are unlabeled Jain, Buddhist, and Pandyan sculptures along with terracotta artefacts.
Thirumalai Nayaka, a Madurai Nayaka king, built this palace in 1636. He is considered to be a connoisseur of art and architecture which is evident from the elegance and aesthetics of this palace. It was his grandson Chokkanatha Nayak who destroyed major portion of this palace and utilized its embellishments in building the palace at Tiruchirapalli. Lord Napier, the governor of Madras, renovated the remains of the palace in 1858. The renovation was done once again in 1971 for the Tamil World Conference.
This palace is just 1 km southeast of the famous Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. The following map shows the driving directions to the palace from Meenakshi Temple:
How to Reach?
Railway: Thirumalai Palace is 3 km east of Madurai Junction which is well-connected with the cities and towns of south India.
Air: Madurai has an airport, about 11 km southwest of the palace. Most of the flights from this airport fly via Chennai to other destinations.
Road: Thirumalai Palace is situated in the middle of the Madurai City and is just about 1 km from the famous Meenakshi Temple.
Palaces in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu has very few palaces, but two of them are very impressive. The Thirumalai Nayak Palace in Madurai and the Maratha Palace in Thanjavur are the monuments you wouldn’t want to miss during your visit to Tamil Nadu. There are also a few other palaces which can be checked out. Read More
Forts in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu has witnessed a rich past. This land of Cholas, Pandyans, and Nayakas is dotted with magnificent structures created by them. The dynasties of the surrounding geographies also laid their claim over many regions of this state. Their excursions led to the building of newer structures which added to the heritage of Tamil Nadu. The eastern border of this state is the southeastern coast of India. The Dutch, the French, and the British entered the country from this coast. They built the forts and settlements; they also took over the existing fortifications and reinforced them. Read More