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.