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Introduction

Aayiram Kaal Mandapam or the Thousand pillar hall is one of many halls or mandapams within the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai. It is a wonder monument built in 1569 by Ariyanatha Mudaliar using Neliappar temple at Tirunelveli as a model. It consists of 985 pillars carved out of single granite blocks and arranged in two rows such that all of them appear to fall into a straight line when viewed from any side. Also they are carved intricately with motifs of the Nayak dynasty, under which Ariyanatha was prime minister of Madurai. These motifs highlight the Dravidian style of architecture that thrived at the time. Giving oomph to this, are beautiful sculptures intricately carved in the classical style.

At the entrance is a statue of its patron Ariyanatha Mudaliar. The statue, occasionally garlanded by admirers, depicts him on an elaborate horse, an appropriate tribute to the founder of the Poligar administrative system of the Nayak dynasty.  There is a 9.38 * 2.14 m colossal door kept on the sides of the entrance which is believed to have served as the entrance to a temple tower once upon a time.

Just outside is a museum of temple art and architecture. It displays various artifacts, photographs and illustrations discovered at the site during maintenance by the archaeological survey of India. The ASI has also taken care to renovate the aging hall, staying as close as possible to the original structure to sustain the historical significance of the place.

Towards the western side of the Aayiram kaal mandapam is another hall of pillars. Only these pillars are specially engineered. They are musical and designed to produce a different note each time one strikes them with an object.

Towards the south is the Kalyana mandapam or the marriage hall where the Chittirai festival of the Meenakshi temple is celebrated.

Geographic Location of Aayiram Kal Mandapam

Aayiram Kal Mandapam at Madurai is located at 10°51'47.6"N 78°41'27.2"E or 10.863226, 78.690901.