Madurai Nayak dynasty

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Madurai Nayak dynasty

Approximate extent of the Madurai Nayak Kingdom, circa 1570.


Common languagesTamil, Telugu
GovernmentGovernors, then Monarchy
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceding States

Succeeding States

Breakaway States

The Madurai Nayaks were Tamil rulers[1] from around 1529 until 1736, of a region comprising most of modern-day Tamil Nadu, India, with Madurai as their capital. The Nayak reign was an era noted for its achievement in arts, cultural and administrative reforms, revitalization of temples previously ransacked by the Delhi Sultans, and inauguration of a unique architectural style.

The dynasty, belonging to the Kamma social group, consisted of 13 rulers, of whom 9 were kings, 2 were queens, and 2 were joint-kings. The most notable of these were the king, Tirumala Nayaka, and the queen, Rani Mangammal. Foreign trade was conducted mainly with the Dutch and the Portuguese, as the British and the French had not yet made inroads in the region.

The Nayak Dynasty[edit]

Madurai Nayaks belonged to the kamma social group.[2][3][4]


Kings and Queen Regents of
Madurai Nayak Dynasty
Part of History of Tamil Nadu
Tirumalai Nayak Palace
Madurai Nayak rulers
Viswanatha Nayak1529–1563
Kumara Krishnappa Nayak1563–1573
Joint Rulers Group I1573–1595
Joint Rulers Group II1595–1602
Muttu Krishnappa Nayak1602–1609
Muttu Virappa Nayak1609–1623
Tirumalai Nayak1623–1659
Muthu Alakadri Nayak1659–1662
Chokkanatha Nayak1662–1682
Rangakrishna Muthu Virappa Nayak1682–1689
Rani Mangammal1689–1704
Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha Nayak1704–1731
Queen Meenakshi1731–1736
‡ Regent Queens
Major forts
Madurai 72 Bastion Fort
Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort
Dindigul Fort
Thirunelvelli Fort
other Military forts
Namakkal Fort
Sankagiri Fort
Attur Fort
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, Madurai
Chokkanatha Nayak Palace a.k.a. Durbar Hall, Tiruchirapalli
Rani Mangammal Tamukkam palace Madurai

Viswanatha Nayaka[edit]

Viswanatha's chief minister, Ariyanatha Mudaliar, assisted him in using the palayam or poligar system which was widely used to govern the Nayak kingdom. The system was a quasi-fedual organisation of the country, which was divided into multiple palayams or small provinces; and each palayam was ruled by a palayakkarar or a petty chief. Ariyanatha organized the Pandyan kingdom into 72 palayams and ruled over the 72 dry-zone poligar chiefs.[5]

The Meenakshi Temple, destroyed by the Mohammedans was re-constructed in 1569. At the entrance of the Thousand Pillar Mandapam, we can still see the statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar seated on a beautiful horse-back which flanks one side of the entrance to the temple. The statue is still periodically crowned with garlands by modern worshippers. He lived until 1600 and had great influence upon the fate of the Nayaka dynasty until his death.[6][full citation needed]

Kumara Krishnappa Nayaka (1563–1573)[edit]

Viswantha Nayak was succeeded by his son Krishnappa Nayak who along with his father's able minister Ariyanatha expanded the Madurai Kingdom under the Nayaks and brought most of the ancient Pandyan territory under its rule.[7]

Tirumala Nayaka (1623–1659)[edit]

Lord Vishnu Hands over his Sister to Lord Siva

From a historical document Ramappayyan Ammanai, we know that the Dalavoy Ramappayan, a Brahmin, had also proven his mettle in the war against Randaula Khan and Sriranga III between 1639 and 1641.[8][9]

Descendants of Vangaru Thirumalai[edit]

Nayakas of Kandy[edit]

Some of the family members of Vangaru Thirumalai established the Nayak dynasty in Sri Lanka known as the Kandy Nayaks. They ruled till 1815 with Kandy as their capital and were also the last ruling dynasty of Sri Lanka. The Kings of Kandy had from an early time sought and procured their wives from Madurai. The Kandy Nayaks received military support from the Nayaks of Madurai in fighting off the Portuguese. And in the 17th and 18th centuries, marital alliances between the Kandyan kings and Nayak princesses had become a matter of policy.[10]

Nayaka coins[edit]

Some early Madurai Nayaka coins portray the figure of the king. The bull also is seen frequently on the Madurai Nayak coins. Chokkanatha Nayak, one of the last rulers of the dynasty, issued coins displaying various animals, such as the bear, elephant and lion. He also issued coins featuring Hanuman and Garuda. The inscriptions on the Nayak coins are in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Nagari scripts. Unlike the coins of many of the earlier dynasties, the Nayak coins are easily available for coin-collectors.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Howes, Jennifer (1 January 1998). The Courts of Pre-colonial South India: Material Culture and Kingship. Psychology Press. p. 28. ISBN 07-0071-585-1.
  2. ^ Religion in Vijayanagara Empire, by Konduri Sarojini Devi, p.100 mentions: "Granting that Acyuta conferred on Visvanatha the kingship of the Pandya Mandalam as Father Heras believes, it is possible that Visvanatha changed his faith to Vaishnavism to suit the exigencies. According to the Kaifiyat of the Karnata Kotikam Kings, "Acyutadeva Maharaya formally crowned Visvanatha Nayadu of the Garikepati family of the Balija caste as the King of Pandya country yielding a revenue of 2 and 1/2 crores of varahas..
  3. ^ Rao, Velcheru Narayana; Shulman, David; Subrahmanyam, Sanjay (1998). Symbols of substance : court and state in Nayaka period Tamil Nadu. Oxford University Press. p. 10. Originally part of the great Telugu migrations southward into the Tamil country in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Balija merchant- warriors reveal the rise of hitherto marginal, and only recently politicized.. These mobile, aggressive, land-hungry, Telugu-speaking warriors....helped to build the Nāyaka state-system and to impregnate it with their particular cultural vision; strong surviving traditions; supported by contemporary evidence, assert Balija origins and / or marital connections for the major Nāyaka dynasties in the Tamil country quite apart from the well-known Balija role in restructuring the revenue systems of Nāyaka Tanjavur and Madurai
  4. ^ Irschick, Eugene F. Politics and Social Conflict in South India, p. 8: "The successors of the Vijayanagar empire, the Nayaks of Madura and Tanjore, were kamma Naidus."
  5. ^ Bayly, Susan (2004). Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society, 1700–1900 (Reprinted ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-52189-103-5.
  6. ^ History&Description of Sri Meenakshi Temple, by T. G. S. Balaram Iyer, T. R. Rajagopalan
  7. ^ Gordon Johnson, John F. Richards, Christopher Alan Bayly (1987). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521563215. External link in |title= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ History of Tirumala Nayaka, by K.Rajaram, p.27-31
  9. ^ History of Tamilnad, Volume 2, by N. Subrahmanian, p.282.
  10. ^ Trawick, Margaret (2007). Enemy lines: childhood, warfare, and play in Batticaloa. University of California Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-52093-887-8.
  11. ^ "The Hindu : Crafted coins". The Hindu. India. Retrieved 14 June 2008.

External links[edit]