During my recent trip to Madurai, I took the time to walk around the beautiful 17th century palace aka Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal sitting right in the middle of the city along with my daughter. Growing up with tales of princess dressed in pinks and purples, wearing tiaras and dancing at balls living in palaces on top of mountains it was quite a surprise for her to visit a “real” palace.
About the Mahal:
The palace was built in 1639 by Thirumalai Nayakkar who was one of the kings of the Nayakkar dynasty. The palace fuses Dravidian architecture and Rajput styles. Many portions of palace were demolished and moved to Trichy by the descendants of Thirumalai Nayakkar. Hence, it is hard to imagine the grandeur of the bygone era.
The pillars of the palace are huge and definitely worth gaping at. I also enjoy seeing the intricate carvings and often wonder how they accomplished so much in an era without machines and technology.
There are a lot of stories/myths associated with the palace. Dungeons and tunnels are supposed to exist.
The dance hall is now a rather sad museum with a few paintings and sculptures. Like many of the archeological sites around the country, this place could do with some care and preservation. It has so much potential.
While, the palace has also been featured in a lot of Bollywood and Kollywood movies it looks quite different without the camera
Admission and Logistics:
The palace is open to the public on most days between 9am and 5pm. In the evenings there is a light and sound show. I have never seen the show. Maybe one of the days, I will actually do it. Entry tickets are priced reasonably – Rs.10-25 per person. Photography charges (including those taken on a smartphone) apply.
- Take a lot of water. The place tends to get hot and sweaty.
- Evenings may be a better time to visit as the temperature dips a tad.
- Hand fans also help.
- There is no food available at the venue. Please pack a few snacks.
- There are quite a few chairs and places to sit and relax if needed.
- The palace is also stroller and wheelchair friendly.
Images Credit: Vinitha