Friday, January 4, 2013
Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace
I was born in Madurai and have spent most of my childhood in this city. Madurai is One of South India's great temple towns. I visited Madurai last week after three decades; when I visited Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace;I recalled my childhood memories.My home and my school was near to Palace. We friends use to often visit this Palace.
Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace is a notable Indo-Western architectural masterpiece in Madurai. This Palace Built by King Thirumalai Nayak /Nayakkar in around 1636.
The Nayaks of Madurai ruled this former Kingdom from 1545 till 1740’s and Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) was one of their greatest kings that line notable for various buildings in and around Madurai. During the 17th centuries. Thirumalai Nayak ruled Madurai between 1623 to 1659 CE. He was a great patron of art and architecture and the Dravidian architecture evolved into the Madurai style.
History of the Nayakas:
In the 14th century, Madurai aroused the cupidity of Malikkafur who invaded it and set up a Mohammadan dynasty that remained in power for nearly fifty years, at the end of which it was conquered by a General of the Vijayanagar Empire and became a feudatory. The Vijayanagar Emperor, while guarding the kingdom against the invaders, subsequently restored it to the descendants of the Pandyan kings.
When Krishna Devaraya was the King of Vijayanagar, he sent one general Nagama Naick to Madurai to control the internal confusion in the Madurai regional politics. Nagama Naik controlled the warring groups and restored peace, but declared himself as an independent ruler. This act provoked the King Krishna Devaraya and he sent Viswanatha Naick, the son of the revolutionary Nagama, to arrest and produce his father in the royal court. Viswanatha fulfilled the order of the King, but justified his father's act and explained the real condition of the region. King, being convinced by the explanation of Viswanatha, released his father and crowned Viswanatha as the ruler of Madurai as a reward to his loyalty. Thus the Madurai Naik Principality was established about 1530 A.D.
From the middle of the 16th century, right up to the eighth decade of the 18th century. The city retained its glory as the principal seat of the Nayakas. Although Vishwanatha Nayaka, the first and greatest of a long line of distinguished rulers, is credited with having laid the foundations of a well planned and well fortified city. Tirumala Nayaka, who ascended to throne in 1623 A.D., and ruled over Madurai for 36 years can be said to have made the largest single contribution towards the enhancement of the beauty and splendour of the town by magnificent edifices and monuments.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace History:
Thirumalai Nayak constructed this palace in 1636 with the help of an Italian architect who visited Madurai around that time. Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) was one of their greatest kings that line notable for various buildings in and around Madurai. During the 17th centuries the Madurai Kingdom had Portuguese, Dutch and other Europeans as traders, missionaries and visiting travelers. Tirumala Nayak is believed to have recruited the services of an Italian architect, for the construction of his Palace. The king and the Nayak Prime Minister Arya Natha Mudaliyar was instrumental in restoration of other architectural monuments in the city like the Meenakshi Amman Temple, the Thirupparamkundram Temple and the Mariamman Teppakulam (water tank). As the abode of the king, the palace participated in activities in and around Madurai ,Over a span of 400 years many parts of the buildings were suffered much by time, and not inconsiderably... by the destructive effects of war; a few, however, are sufficiently in repair to be converted into use by the garrison, as granaries, store-houses, powder magazines during time of East India Company.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace Architecture:
The palace is the place where Thirumalai Naicker lived and held his court. The palace complex area was originally four times bigger than it is now, consisting of two portions – Swarga vilasa and Ranga vilasa. The spacious rectangular courtyard called the swarga Vilasam and a few adjoining buildings survive, their awesome scale evoking the grandeur of a vanished era. 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. A view of the interior of the palace, with an arcade of columns enriched with foliated brick arches. Behind this are cloisters carved in triple rows of columns..To its west lies the Throne Chamber, a vast room with a raised, octagonal dome. This room leads to the Dance Hall. There were also other portions like the palace shrine, harem, theater, royal band stand, armory and other structures which were used to accommodate palanquins, royal chariots, relatives, servants, guests and other regal paraphernalia. . One of the domes stands without the support of girder -an architectural feat of everlasting wonder.
This expansive and open courtyard area is flanked by huge white circular pillars on all four sides. The Courtyard and the Dance Hall are the major attractions of the palace. The Swarga Vilasa or celestial pavilion was used as the throne room (arcaded by an octagon dome 60-70 feet high) while the Dance Hall was used for dance, music and other entertainment activities by the royalty.
The domed structure in the centre is supported by stone ribs and is held up by massive circular columns topped and linked by pointed scalloped arches with an arcaded gallery opening into the nave above the side aisles.
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. During 19th century, Lord Napier, governor of Madras between 1866 and 1872 made several renovation works. Then the palace was utilized to house some officials of the judiciary and district administration. After independence, this palace was declared as a national monument and is now under the care of the Tamilnadu Archaeological Department.
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.
The palace has an archaeological museum which houses artifacts, idols, pottery, pillar-stones, scripts and paintings unearthed from various places in South India, right from the 102 A.D. Restored in 1858 by Lord Napier (the then Governor of Madras), Tirumala Nayaka, who ascended to throne in 1623 A.D., and ruled over Madurai for 36 years was undoubtedly the greatest of the Nayaka rulers and he have made the largest single contribution towards the enhancement of the beauty and splendour of the town by magnificent edifices and monuments.