Vastu-shastra (5): Temple Architecture

by D. N. Shukla | 1960 | 69,139 words | ISBN-10: 8121506115 | ISBN-13: 9788121506113

This page describes Chola Temples (Circa 900-1150 A.D.) of the study on Vastu-Shastra (Indian architecture) fifth part (Temple architecture). This part deals with This book deals with an outline history of Hindu Temple (the place of worship). It furtherr details on various religious buildings in India such as: shrines, temples, chapels, monasteries, pavilions, mandapas, jagatis, prakaras etc. etc.

The decline of Pallava supremacy brought about an unsettled state of Tamil Country. Conflict ensued between the various dynasties—the Pallavas, Cholas Pāṇḍyas and Rāṣṭrakūṭas all striving for supremacy. The struggle for power ultimately ended in the favour of the Cholas and in due course they became paramount in the south. Their dynastic history began about 900 A.D. and their rule attained its meridian a century later. Naturally the buildings attributed to the Cholas during the 10th century are not many, nor are they large and they imply a local rather than an imperial development.

The following more important local examples may be cited.

(a) In and around the state of Pudukkottai.

  1. The Sundareśvara temple at Tirukattalai
  2. The Vijayālaya temple in Nartamalai
  3. The triple temple, the Muvarkoil in Kodumbelur
  4. Mucukundeśvara in Kolattur-taluk
  5. Kadambar in Kadambarmalai Nartmalai
  6. Bāla-subrahmaṇya in Kannanur Tirumayam-taluk.

(b) Similar structures are found as far south as S. Arcot, such as in Tiruppur, Visalur, Panangudi and Kaliyapatti in Kolathur, and in Enadi, Tiramayam-taluk.

These Chola structures are characterised by a noticeable exuberance. Their productions are in the line of Chalukyan temples rather than Pallava counterparts as is evident from the shape of the domical finial of the Śikhara which has a double flexured contour similar to those in the temples of Badami and Pattadakal.

Among the more distinctive early Chola temples reference may be made to the temple of Koranganatha at Srṃivasanalur in the Trichonopoly district. Its peculiar name is due to a local legend which records that on completion it was defiled by a monkey (korangu) and so it was never consecrated, Another particular notice in the context of the departure from Pallavas is illustrated from an altogether new phase in the Drayidian order (see Brown p. 103 first and second paras). These are the introductions of the abstract conventions in the mouldings in place of animalized motifs (cf. lion motif). Another feature is the emergence of a new animalized motif (cf. a row of gryphoned heads) which continued throughout the subsequent periods.

The later phase of Chola art culminated in Śiva temple of Tanjore, the Bṛhadīśvara what is described as the largest, the highest and the most ambitious production of its kind. It is a landmark in the evolution of the building art in South India. Equally large, high and ambitious an undertaking is illustrated in another great temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuran [Cholapuram/Cholapura?]. These Chola monuments testify to the vast power which is characteristically revealed in these two notable examples of Bhaumika Virnānas of the superlative type. The rise of Chola power synchronises with the rise of Chola architecture. In comparison with the temple of Korangunath they are as cathedrals to a parish church. This latter example is notable for a new element of temple-establishment, the pillared assembly halls—Sahasra-maṇḍapas or Śatamaṇḍapas. Yet another characteristic of these two temples is the statuary in which Naṭarāja Śiva and his manifold manifestations like Caṇḍikeśānugraha-mūrti is of special interest. Other images are flying apsarās sprowling gaṇa-devatās and contorted Yakṣas, etc., etc.

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