Thirumalai Nayak Palace, one of the major landmarks of Madurai
, is situated just 2 km south-east of the famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
. It was built by Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian Architect, in 1636. This imposing edifice is renowned for its exquisite stuccowork on its domes and impressive arches.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace is mainly divided into two parts – Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa. The Swargavilasa (Celestial Pavilion), built entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a marvel of Indo-Saracenic architectural style.
This magnificent structure was destroyed by his grandson Chokkanatha Nayak and the valuables were looted to other places. Several renovation works were made by Lord Napier, the governor of Madras (between 1866 and 1872), to bring back its lost glory. Only the spacious rectangular courtyard and a few adjoining buildings survive today, representing the grandeur of a bygone era.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace was declared as a national monument after the Indian independence and is now under the care of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department.
A sound and light program, depicting the story of Thirumalai Nayak and of Shilappadikaram, is organized daily in both Tamil and English languages.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace is open from 09:00 to 13:00 hrs and 14:00 to 17:00 hrs.
Madurai Junction Railway Station is the nearest railhead.