The Thousand Pillar Choultry in the Minaksi temple, Madura. 11 July 1792
Artist: Daniell, Thomas (1749-1840)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of the Thousand Pillar Choultry in the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple at Madurai, with notes on the front in pencil by Thomas and William Daniell, dated 11 July 1792. Inscribed on back in ink is: 'N.' '53. Part of the Thousand Pillar Choultry, Madura'; in pencil:' Thousand Pillar Choultry and Temple & ? No.4'.
The Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple complex contains two main shrines; one dedicated to Shiva and one to his consort Minakshi, an ancient local divinity. Each shrine is set within its own walled complex containing several subsidiary shrines, mandapams (assembly halls) and artificial pools. The construction of this temple-town was made possible by the wealth and power of Tirumala Nayak (1623-1659). He was the most prolific builder of a long line of Nayaka kings, a dynasty who ruled a large portion of Tamil country in the 16th and 17th centuries. The whole site, which mostly dates from the 17th century, is enclosed within a rectangular precinct which covers six hectares and has 11 huge gopurams or towers, the biggest of which mark four entrances from the four cardinal points. The thousand pillars of the Airakkal Mandapam (Thousand Pillar Hall) have figures of divinities, attendants and musicians carved in full relief on the shafts, as can be seen in this drawing.