Have you ever wondered how it would feel to walk in the footsteps of the kings and queens of the past? To marvel at the grandeur and splendor of their palaces and courts? To witness the history and culture of a bygone era? If yes, then you should definitely visit the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. This magnificent palace is one of the most impressive and well-preserved monuments of the Nayak dynasty, which ruled over a large part of South India from the 16th to the 18th century. The palace is a stunning example of the fusion of Dravidian and Islamic architecture, with massive pillars, arches, domes, and carvings.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, including its history, architecture, sound and light show, how to reach, best time to visit, nearby attractions, and more. So, read on and get ready to explore this majestic palace in Madurai.
History and Architecture
The Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal was built by King Thirumalai Nayak in 1636 AD, as his royal residence and administrative headquarters. The palace was designed by an Italian architect, who blended the native Dravidian style with the Islamic style of the Mughals and the Persians. The palace was originally four times larger than its present size, and consisted of two main parts: the Swargavilasa (the celestial pavilion) and the Rangavilasa (the theatre pavilion). The Swargavilasa was the main palace, where the king lived and conducted his affairs. The Rangavilasa was the entertainment area, where the king and his guests enjoyed various performances and festivals. The palace also had a large courtyard, a pond, a garden, and several other buildings and structures.
The present structure of the palace is mainly the Swargavilasa, which has been restored and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is a marvel of engineering and art, with huge pillars, arches, domes, and carvings. The pillars are made of stone and are 82 feet high and 19 feet wide. The palace also has a throne chamber, a dance hall, an audience hall, and a weapons hall, which display the royal furniture, weapons, paintings, and other artifacts of the Nayak period.
Sound and Light Show
One of the main attractions of the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal is the sound and light show that is conducted every evening in the palace premises. The show is a 50-minute presentation that uses colorful lights and sound effects to narrate the history and the glory of the palace and its rulers. The show covers the origin, construction, and evolution of the palace, the life and achievements of Thirumalai Nayak, the culture and festivals of Madurai, and the legends and stories associated with the palace. The show is available in both English and Tamil languages, and the timings are as follows:
English: 6:45 pm to 7:35 pm
Tamil: 8:00 pm to 8:50 pm
The ticket price for the show is Rs. 50 for adults and Rs. 25 for children. The show is a must-watch for anyone who wants to experience the magic and mystery of the palace and its past.
How to Reach and Best Time to Visit
The Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal is located in the heart of Madurai city, and is easily accessible by various modes of transport.
By air: The nearest airport is the Madurai Airport, which is 12 km away from the palace.
By train: The nearest railway station is the Madurai Junction, which is 2 km away from the palace.
By road: The palace is also well-connected by road, and can be reached by buses, taxis, autos, and cycle rickshaws from any part of the city.
Timings: The palace is open to visitors from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and is closed on Fridays.
Entry fee: The entry fee for the palace is Rs. 10 for Indians and Rs. 250 for foreigners. The best time to visit the palace is between October and March, when the weather is pleasant and cool. The palace is also a great place to visit during the festivals of Pongal, Chithirai, and Navratri, when the palace and the city are decorated and celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy.
Nearby Attractions and Places to Visit
Madurai is one of the oldest and most culturally rich cities in India, and has many other attractions and places to visit besides the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. Some of the most popular ones are:
Meenakshi Amman Temple: This is the most famous and sacred temple in Madurai, dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Shiva. The temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, with 14 towering gopurams, thousands of sculptures, and colorful paintings. The temple is also the venue of the Chithirai festival, which is one of the largest and longest festivals in the world, lasting for 12 days in April-May.
Gandhi Museum: This is a museum that showcases the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. The museum has a collection of photographs, letters, books, and personal belongings of Gandhi, as well as a gallery of paintings depicting his major events and achievements. The museum also has a section on the history and freedom struggle of India, and a hall of relics, where the blood-stained cloth worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated is displayed.
Koodal Azhagar Temple: This is another ancient and beautiful temple in Madurai, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is known for its unique feature of having three sanctums for the same deity, each in a different posture: sitting, standing, and reclining. The temple also has a stunning golden vimana, a carved wooden chariot, and a hall of pillars with exquisite sculptures.
Alagar Koyil: This is a hill temple located 21 km away from Madurai, dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Alagar. The temple is surrounded by natural beauty and tranquility, and has a rich history and mythology. The temple is also famous for its sculptures, paintings, and festivals, especially the Alagar festival, which is celebrated in April-May, when the deity is taken in a procession from the hill to the river Vaigai.
Vaigai Dam: This is a large and scenic dam built across the river Vaigai, located 70 km away from Madurai. The dam is a popular picnic spot and a source of irrigation and hydroelectricity for the region. The dam also has a beautiful garden, a musical fountain, and a boating facility for the visitors.
The Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal is a majestic palace in Madurai that showcases the glory and heritage of the Nayak dynasty. The palace is a splendid example of the fusion of Dravidian and Islamic architecture, and has a fascinating history and culture. The palace also hosts a spectacular sound and light show that brings the palace and its past to life. The palace is a must-visit for anyone who loves history, art, and culture, and wants to experience the charm and beauty of Madurai.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets and tours for the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal and other attractions in Madurai.