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Temples in Kovilangulam

In the village of Kovilangulam in the Aruppukkottai taluk of the Ramanathapuram district, there are the remains of a Jaina temple, dedicated to Mukkudaiyar, which term literally means “the god under a canopy of three umbrellas”, i.e., the Jina.

Ambalappasvami (Mukkudaiyar) temple

This Jaina temple, or whatever is left of it, which is now called Ambalappasvami temple, is in ruins and all that we see now are the basement and two Jaina images placed over it. From a 48th year record of Tribhuvanachakravartin Kulottunga deva (I), found on the west and south sides of the base of this temple, we come to know that a golden vimana with a mandapa for the god Mukkudaiyar was constructed at Kumbanur Sengattirukkai, a subdivision of Venbu valanadu. Two copper images of the god and Yakshi were also presented and land was given for a watershed at the temple-site (ARE 397 of 1914). This inscription of this period from Kovilangulam deserves to be taken note of on account of its contents as well as its literary style not generally found in inscriptions. We learn that about twenty-five persons, of whom some were evidently well-versed in the Tamil language, built for the ‘god of the three umbrellas’ a temple and a golden shrine and presented stone and metallic images of the god and his Yakshi. They also provided gifts for meeting the expenses of taking out processions of the deity and the upkeep of the various charities made by them.

This temple, of which unfortunately nothing but the bare vestiges remain, was built in the last days of Kulottunga I (i.e.,, a.d. 1118). This is proof of the continuing royal benevolence towards Jainism even during the Later Chola period. Of active royal patronage we have seen adequate evidence in the days of Rajaraja I at Dadapuram where Kundavai-piratti built, with equal devotion, three temples, dedicated to Siva, Vishnu and the Jina. The fact th&t the Kundavai Jinalayas at Dadapuram and Polur-Tirumalai as well as this Jaina.temple at Kovilangulam have been either allowed to collapse or deliberately destroyed would indicate neglect towards Jainism, if not bigotry, of a later period.

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