Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th-century palace erected in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, a king of Madurai’s Nayaka dynasty who ruled Madurai from 1623–59. This Palace is a classic fusion of Dravidian and Rajput styles. The building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace, in which the king lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. In its heyday, Thirumalai Nayak Palace at Madurai was considered to be one of the wonders of the South. This palace is situated 2 km south east of the Meenakshi Amman Temple. It is a 375-year-old monument that stands testimony to the glorious years of the Nayak regime. Widely considered as the most illustrious of the Madurai Nayak dynasty, King Thirumalai Nayak constructed the palace to mark the shift of his capital from Tirchy to Madurai, which was supposed to have been done for strategic and administrative reasons. The building was constructed with methods and techniques that were considered very novel in those years and its architecture is a confluence of three major cultures, says C. Shanthalingam, a retired Archaeological officer who was posted at Mahal for 18 years in various capacities. While no record exist, he says that the King was said to have utilized the services of an Italian architect to design the Mahal. While the palace’s arches and domes were inspired from Indo-Saracenic Architecture, the massive pillar columns reflect the Gothic (German) style. The construction of the Mahal was estimated to have commenced at around at 1629 and completed at 1636. “Originally, the palace stretched for 20 acres spanning a huge area. Even now, some houses in the western side of the Mahal have small arches and domes resembling those at the Mahal,” he says. The main reason for the palace’s decline, he says, was the decision of King Thirumalai Nayak’s descendants to shift the capital back to Tirchy. Towards this, many parts of the Mahal were dismantled and taken to Tirchy. However, the palace was never constructed at Tirchy and with the capital shift the Madurai palace fell into disuse.
The palace is well equipped to perform Light & Sound shows depicting the story of Silappathikaram both in Tamil and English languages. Visiting Timings Are 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM for general visit. Sound & Light Show Time: 6.45 PM to 7.35 PM in English 8.00 PM to 8.50 PM in Tamil.