(Last Updated on : 02/05/2012)
One of the well-known rulers of the Nayaka dynasty of Madurai, Tirumalai Nayak was very apt in administration activities. Son of Muttu Krishnappa, Tirumalai Nayaka succeeded his brother Muttu Virappa Nayaka on the throne. Muttu Virappa had changed his capital from Madurai to Tiruchirapalli. But, Tirumalai Nayak shifted his capital from Tiruchirapalli back to Madurai, and carefully organised the defenses of the kingdom.
Tirumalai's reign was marked by a large number of military campaigns. He was successful in his wars with Mysore. He undertook a successful expedition against Travancore in about 1634-35 A.D. He settled the dispute for throne between Sadaika Deva and Tambi in the Ramanth region. Finally, Raghunatha Deva became the ruler and he remained loyal to Tirumala who rewarded him liberally when he crushed the poligar rising at Ettaiyapuram. Till about 1634 Tirumala was loyal to Vijayanagar, though it was only a normal subordination. Then he planned an alliance with the Nayaks of Gingee and Tanjavur, to oppose Sriranga III, the Vijayanagar emperor. His plans were betrayed by the Nayak of Tanjavur. Then Tirumala requested the Golconda Sultan to help him against the emperor.
After defeating Sriranga, the Sultan turned against the other South Indian kingdoms. So Tirumala was forced to ask the Sultan of Bijapur for help. But all this led to expansion of Muslim rule in the south. He remained neutral in the contests between the Dutch and the Portuguese in the south. Tirumala made significant contributions in the realms of art and architecture. He built the Pudu mandapa, dug the Uppakula (tank), carried out many repairs and renovations to the Madurai temple and began the unfinished Raya gopura in Madurai. He also built an extensive palace to the south-east of the temple. Tirumala is credited with the building of many structures - both religious and civilians in his realm- at Madurai, Tirupparan-kunram, Alagarkoyil, Srivilliputtur, etc.