Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
At a distance of 3 km from Madurai Junction Railway Station and 1 km from Meenakshi Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal is a palace complex constructed in the Indo-Saracen style by Thirumalai Nayak in 1636. It is among the major Madurai tourist places.
The original palace complex was four times bigger than the present structure. It was divided into two parts, Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa and only the Swargavilasa is survived today. The palace was designed by an Italian architect. The ceilings are decorated with large paintings showing Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes. The Darbar hall (courtyard) and the Natakasala (dancing hall) are carry the original glory and are central attractions for visitors. There are 248 pillars, each 58 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter. It is believed that the Rangavilasa portion of the palace was demolished by Chockanatha Nayak, the grandson of Thirumalai Nayak and the materials were carried to Trichy to build a new palace.
The most remarkable part of this palace is the dome of Swarga Vilasa, which lies beyond a huge courtyard and is a magnificent example of the engineering skill of its builders, rising as it does to a height of 20m without support of any kind. There is a throne placed in the Darbar hall which was used by the Nayak rulers.
There is a large museum on the North-western side of the palace (Natakasala) that houses wonderful collection of Painting, utensils, photographs of the palace showing its full glory and several sculptures. The dome in Natakasala is wonderfully built with glass windows on all sides of the upper portion. There are several beautiful sculptures spread across the Natakasala from 10th to 17th century. There are two stair-ways to reach the upper part of the Natakasala.
There is a tall tower on northern side of the palace which is an added attraction.
Timings: 9 AM to 1 PM & 2 PM to 5 PM. A sound and light show is conducted at 6.45 PM (English) and 8.15 PM (Tamil).
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Adults & Rs. 5 for Children