Pudhu mandapam

Pudhu Mandapam (literally, new pavilion) stands outside the east gopuram of the Meenakshi temple. Today it is mainly a market full of jewellery, cloth, and tailors. It looked totally incongruous, makeshift shops cluttered at the base of wonderful 17th century sculptures. It was constructed between 1628 and 1635 CE, during the reign of Thirumala Nayakkar, as a place for temple festivals.

My first view of the place was at night just as it was being locked down. We returned the next afternoon to look at it again. We walked through the large 100 meters by 32 meters rectangular structure, held up by 124 pillars. Each pillar is worth looking at. The gallery above contains some of the highlights: the lions bowing to the gods and kings who pass through these corridors, the dancers celebrating the marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareswar, Meenakshi with three breasts, in her aspect of nurture. Other sculptures commemorate the Nayak kings. I’m sure a person more well-read than me in Tamil history will be able to identify them by name. The Family took a few photos of the tailors at work, one of them is included in the gallery here.

It seems that the surrounding market spilled into this mandapam in 1902. I wonder how the place looked before it became encased in a nest of wires, haphazardly erected stalls, and oddly placed lights.

Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

14 thoughts on “Pudhu mandapam”

  1. Wow! The juxtaposition between the old and the modern is pretty intense. The old is stone, monochromatic, artistic and lasting centuries. The modern seems colorful and flimsy, and looks like much of it’ll be lucky to last a couple years before needing to be replaced. I love those vintage sewing machines though. They don’t need electricity to run. Do they make clothes for customers right there? Or are they making other things like handbags and such?

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      1. While, as a photographer, I lament where they are located as it makes it harder to take shots — I noticed you had to shoot upwards. As a Westerner, I’m fascinated with their being able to do custom clothes on the fly like that. You just don’t see that here in arizona markets. Everything is factory made

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  2. Beautiful place but as usual people have not concern over preservation at all. I have been here a very long time back and I think I should visit once more!

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      1. True that!
        And I am learning how to turn ordinary things into interesting stories from you. You’ve given me ideas for sure, don’t know when I’ll implement them though 😛

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