Sculptured pillars in the Mutarli Mandapa, Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple, Madurai.
Photographer: Nicholas and Company
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Mutarli mandapa in the Minakshi Sundareshvara temple of Madurai, taken by Nicholas and Company in c.1882. The Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple is dedicated to Shiva and his consort Minakshi, an ancient local divinity. The construction of this imposing 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 sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The rectangular precinct covers six hectares and has eleven huge towers and four entrance gopurams. Inside this enclosure there are columned mandapas or porches, tanks, shrines and the two temples of Shiva and Minakshi. Many different rulers built their own extensions to the temple, and the Mutarli Mandapa appears to be one of the more recent additions. The mandapa columns are finely carved with figures of divinities and the ceiling was brightly painted when this photograph was taken.