Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Third Series)

Research Article

Tirumala Nayaka's “New Hall” and the European Study of the South Indian Temple*

Crispin Branfoot


The Pudu Mandapa (‘New Hall’) in Madurai is one of the best-known monuments from the Nayaka period of Tamilnadu (c. 1550–1700). It was built around 1630 under the patronage of Tirumala Nayaka as a major addition to the Minaksi-Sundaresvara temple complex that dominates the centre of this major Tamil town and Hindu pilgrimage centre. The Pudu Mandapa is well known in the West from the aquatint produced by Thomas and William Daniell, but this is only one of numerous other illustrations by Western and Indian artists in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century of this single Tamil temple structure. A discussion of the Pudu Mandapa as an example of a major architectural type, the festival mandapa, is followed by an examination of the structure's architectural sculpture. The final section discusses the Royal Asiatic Society's collection of drawings of this mandapa and the European documentation of the south Indian temple more generally.