The appeal of the Mandapam has been marred for decades now by shops selling clothes, books and vessels

The splendour and beauty of the famous 17th century ‘Pudu Mandapam’ (new hall) here, a major tourist attraction known for its pillar sculptures, would be restored by removing all shops that have been functioning there for over several decades, a senior official has said.

It is a major attraction of tourists, including foreigners, who throng the ancient city throughout the year.

However, its beauty has been marred by the shops selling clothes, books and vessels for several decades.

District Collector U. Sagayam, who visited the Pudu Mandapam along with Corporation Commissioner S. Sebastine and Tourism officer Dharmaraj, yesterday ordered removal of the shops within a month.

Mr. Sagayam also wanted the Tirumalai Nayak Mahal, an imposing edifice famous for the “Stuccowork” on its domes and impressive arches, to be maintained spick and span.

He directed them to ensure proper conduct of sound and light shows and facilities including drinking water in the Mahal for the benefit of tourists.

He also visited ancient Kunnathur Chattiram building and the temple car mandapam (shed) and told the officials that it was their duty to preserve the century old buildings.

The mandapam, a long hall with columns that are carved with figures of Lord Shiva in his various manifestations, Goddess Meenakshi and the Nayak kings, was built by Tirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) in front of the Sri Meenakshi Amman temple here.