Thirumalai Nayak Palace, Madurai

On my recent trip to Madurai, I visited Thirumalai Nayak palace built by king Thirumalai Nayak of Madurai. The palace from outside looks like a medium sized godown. But once you enter inside it is another world in terms of architecture. The palace was built in a combination of Italian and Indian architecture.

Thirumalai Nayak was the 7th king of the Nayakkar dynasty of Madurai. The Nayakkars used to be the feudatory of the Vijaynagar empire before they declared themselves independent. He built the palace in 1636. Today only one fourth portion of the original palace exists. The existing portion includes king Thirumalai Nayak’s residence and his court room. The palace had two residential parts – Rangavilasam and Swargavilasam. What we see today is mainly the Swargavilasam part. The palace is also said to have had a palace shrine, band stand, theater, relatives and maid quarters, lotus pond, garden etc. Also, a portion of the palace was demolished by his grandson king Chokkanatha Nayak and took the materials to Tiruchirapalli to built a palace there. The palace was saved from further ruins by efforts of the then governor of Madras, Lord Napier who conducted restoration work in 1858.

The first day we just watched the sound and light show in the evening. It describes the reign of King Thirumalai Nayak as king and the history behind Nayakkar dynasty with sound and light effects. The palace looks amazing with the lighting effects.

Sound and light show timings:

1. 6.45 – 7.35 pm in English
2. 8 – 8.50 pm in Tamil

Ticket cost: Rs 50 per adult and Rs 25 for children (aged 5 to 12 years)

Note: There will be no refund for power failure or rain

To see Thirumalai Nayak Palace properly, we visited there again on the last day (4th day) of our stay in Madurai. We reached there by 4.15 pm. Now that I can see the palace in clear day light, I was pleased to see a very different architecture. The huge pillars are similar to what you can see in Roman temples or palaces. After the entrance what we see is the darbar hall or court room. At one end you can see a throne, from here king Thirumalai Nayak used to preside his court proceedings. The center of the court room is low compared to the surrounding with open space and no roof. I suggest you see the roof ceiling for the extensive painting and art work. It is a treat to the eyes.

From the right side to the throne, you can visit the Palace museum through a door. During my visit work was still on. They were installing ancient stone crafted and bronze crafted statues collected from various parts of Tamil Nadu. I have seen there statues as early as 6th and 7th century. From there you can go out through another door to see the exterior of the palace. There too a large number ancient statues has been placed. All these statues are related to Hindu religion or mythology. By the time we had just finished watching everything, it was 5 pm and we were requested to leave.

Timings: 9 am to 5 pm

Ticket cost:

Indian adult: Rs 10
Indian children: Rs 5
Foreign adult: Rs 50
Foreign children: Rs 25
Camera fees: Rs 30
Video camera fees: Rs 100

Auto fare from Town hall road or in and around Meenakshi temple is Rs 30. Do not give more than Rs 35.

Distance from Meenakshi temple: 1.5 km

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