|Unfinished Roya Gopuram, Madurai, pinrest. comAdd caption|
Tirumala Nayak (A.D. 1623 to 1659) of Madurai Nayak Dynasty had a plan to build a huge tower. Though the construction of the new tower had begun in earnest, for reasons beyond comprehension, the work was not completed and left out in the very early phases. The amazing features are the four tall monolith towers that rise to a height of 50 feet from the ground level. That how the four tall pillars were erected in alignment at the right upper level is a riddle. They are the only pillars half-constructed on the Meenakshi Temple premises. It is on the west side of the main shrine.
|Madurai Meenashi temple,inomplete Roya Gopuram .hellotravel.com|
The unfinished tower is at the western corner of Yanakal street and the entrance is facing Yezhukadal street. It measures 59 meter in length and 38 meters in width. The remnants we are seeing here were built in AD 1654 by Thirumala Nayak with view to enhancing the beauty of Meenakshi temple, one of the finest temples dedicated to Shiva in India. The gopura is a wonderful representation of the architectural finesse of the Nayak period. His brother Nayak king Muthiyaly along with Thirumala Nayak gave due importance to temple building in the Nayak kingdom and the Nayak rulers of Madurai, Thanjavur and other places made vast contribution to Hindu temple architecture in Tamil Nadu. They built or made additions to the Vishnu as well as Shiva temples. Had the Nayak ruler completed this Roya gopura, perhaps it would have been the tallest one in Tamil Nadu.
|The gargantuan base of the unfinished Raya gopuram., Madurai thehindu.com|
|Madurai Meenaskshi temple, entrance. Roya Gopuram. .bl.uk/onlinegallery/|
Any visitor to the unfinished Roya Gopura will be wonder-struck by the tall, huge base with its ornate thoranas, elegant carvings, sculptures of dancing damsels, lion-based pilasters and niches. There is a well-carved stone sculpture of Tirumalai Nayak, the ruler of Madurai who was instrumental for the temple's expansion and regular maintenance. When Thirumalai Naicker started the construction, the 217-foot tall tower of Thiruvannamalai temple, Thiruvannamalai,TN was the tallest one and the ruler wanted to build the tower in Madurai taller than this one. At present, the 236-foot tall Srirangam Ranganathar temple is the tallest one in Tamil Nadu, followed by Thanjavur Brigadishwar temple (big temple) and Sri Villiputhur Andal temple in Virudhunagar district.