Photograph of the interior courtyard with the surrounding arcade of Tirumala Nayaka's Palace at Madurai in Tamil Nadu, taken by a photographer of the Archaeological Survey of India around 1899-1900. The plaster ornamentation on the arches and the vaults is typical of the final phase of the Nayaka royal style. In the 16th century Madurai became an independent kingdom under the Nayakas, formerly governors of the Vijayanagara empire, and Tirumala (1623-59), the most important ruler of that dynasty, was an ambitious builder. He patronised the reconstruction of the great Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple complex which dominates the centre of the town. His palace, built in 1636, is situated south-east of the temple. The palace complex once occupied a large area but many structures were pulled down in the 18th century or used for buildings in the adjoining streets. An enclosed court known as the Svarga Vilasam remains, and a few adjacent structures. The audience chamber of the Svarga Vilasam is a vast arcaded hall. The plasterwork decoration dates mostly from the 19th century when the palace was restored, under the aegis of Lord Napier, the governor of Madras, 1866-72.