Thirumalai Naick Palace
was built in 1636 A.D. by Thirumalai Naick himself. It is considered as
the most splendid secular building in South India. Tradition says that
Thirumalai Naick had the help of Italian Architect in designing
The present building that we see today was the main palace
portion, where the King Thirumalai Naick and others lived. But only one
fourth of the original palace remains today. It is believed that
Chockanatha Naick, the grand son of Thirumalai Naick demolished the
palace and carried away some valuable carvings to Trichy, his then
capital. The original palace consisted of two main parts, namely Swarga
Vilasa and Rangavilasa. In the Swarga Vilasa portion, Dharbar Hall
(Royal Court) and Nataka Sala (Entertainment Theatre) were functioned.
Rangavilasa was purely a residential quarter in which Muthialu Naick,
brother of Thirumalai Naick lived. In addition to these two portions
Rajarajeswari Amman shrine, queens chambers, armoury, a water fountain,
a pool, residential quarters of palace servants and relatives were
situated. The enclosure wall was built on all four sides. Since the
enclosure walls were badly dilapidated, they were pulled down just a
century back. It was named as Pari Madil, 300mts length east-west and
220mts width north-south orientation and 12mts in height. A flower
garden was situated at the west of the enclosure wall with a Pavillion
in the middle.
The structure what we see today with a rectangular court-yard in the
center flanked by huge and tall colonades was the main palace portion.
The original entrance to the palace was said to have been to the north
of the present structure (ie) very near to the Vilakuthoon. During the
middle of the 19th century the present entrance came into use. The
court-yard measures 50mts east and west, by 32mts north and south,
surrounded on all sides by arcades of very great beauty. The supporting
pillars are of stone 12mts in height and are joined by foliated brick
arcade of great elegance and design carrying a cornice and entabulature
rising to upward of 20mts in height.
The pillars are made of granite undressed stone rings in
the middle and it is covered with lime mortar upon which brick bats had
been affixed. Again it is covered with fine lime and for polishing
jaggary, kadukkai and white part of the egg yoke were used. This is
a characteristic pattern prevailed in the Southern most Tamilnadu
particularly in Chettinad area. The whole ornamentation is worked out in
the fine stucco (ie) chunnam or shell lime. On either side of the
court-yard, are rectangular pavilions topped by finials, originally
covered with gold.
The portion remains on the west side of the court-yard is Swarga Vilasa
(ie) celestial pavilion. It measures 75mts from north to south by 52mts
across. The huge central dome is supported by twelve columns, enclosing
a square 21mts across. These columns are first linked together by
massive saracenic arches. Four similar arches are then thrown across the
corner and the octagonal drum rises from these pierced by a clerestory.
Above this at the cornice 15mts. Up, the octagon is changed to a circle
and the dome rises in the centre of 25mts from the floor. The celestial
pavilion is approached by a flight of steps guarded by sculptures of
horse riders, which are now damaged.
A previous description of the palace, indicates that this
pavilion is so constructed as to cause it to be said that in no other
country is there a court equal to it by reasons of its splendid
ornaments, their excellence, number, extent, curious workmanship and
great beauty. To the west in the midst of a great dome shapped hall, is
a square building of black stone inside which is a chamber made of ivory.
A jewelled throne is housed in the middle of the chamber, on which the
King is accustomed to take his seat at the great nine night festival
surrounded by all his banners or ensigns of royalty, and which all Kings are accustomed to do homage.