Drawing of sculpted stones along the base of the large gopuram on the east side of the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple, Madurai
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink drawing of the east gopura in the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple in Madurai from an 'Album of 51 drawings (57 folios) of buildings, sculpture and paintings in the temple and choultry of Tirumala Nayyak at Madura. c.1801-05', by an anonymous artist working in the South India/Madurai style, c. 1801-1805. Each picture is inscribed with a title and a number in ink.
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 gopuras or towers, the biggest of which mark four entrances from the four cardinal points. The gopuras at Madurai are some of the most elaborately decorated of South India. They rise dramatically upwards, reaching about 60 metres high, and are completely covered with sculpted figures of divinities, celestial beings, guardians, musicians and animals.