Temples in and around Madurantakam

by B. Mekala | 2016 | 71,416 words

This essay studies the Temples found around Madurantakam, a town and municipality in Kancheepuram (Kanchipuram) District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Madurantakam is one of the sacred holy places visited by Saint Ramanuja. It is also a region blessed with many renowned temples which, even though dating to at least the 10th century, yet they c...

Hoysalas and the Muslim Invasion

Political uncertainty that prevailed in this region was further aggravated by another muslim invasion in A.D. 1327.[1] This time, the army of Muhammed Bin Tuglaq, after overcoming the Deccan, marched against the Hoysala Capital Dwarasamudra and caused considerable damage. Meanwhile, Ballala-III, the Hoysala King vacated the capital Dwarasamudra and settled at Tiruvannamalai sometime in A.D. 1328.[2]. From there, he was operating against the Madurai Sultans. In A.D. 1335, Jalal-ud-din (A Madurai Sultan) revolted against his Delhi overlord and set up his independence. This infight between the Muslim powers was taken advantage of by the Hoysala King Ballala-Ill who had strengthened his power in the regions of South Arcot and Coimbatore. It was by this time that the Hoysala Vira Ballala-III paid a short visit to Kancheepuram. He stayed there with the officers of his army inviting the people to rise up in rebellion and wage war on the Muhamadans.[3] The years between AD 1335 and 1342 were of great activity for Ballala in consolidating the Hoysala hold and making it a bulwark of attack on the Muslim power of Madurai. Inspite of initial success, the battle proved disastrous for Ballala who was first taken prisoner and latter killed mercilessly in AD 1342. The Hoysala power did not recover from this blow. It survived for a year more under Ballala-IV and later about AD 1346 was over run by the victorious Vijayanagar power.

Devaraya-II (AD 1422 -1446) ruled the country from AD 1422 to 1466. He reigned supreme over the entire South India. His inscriptions have been found in the neighbourhood of Kancheepuram, Thiruvothiyur, Tirumullaivayil, Kunnathur, Padi and Mangadu.[4] Devaraya-ll was succeeded by Vijayaraya-II (A.D. 1446-1447) and shortly after, by his son, Mallikarjuna (A.D. 1447-1456). The Vijayanagar Empire met with great difficulty. The Oriyan ruler penetrated up to Kancheepuram and even occupied the town by AD 1465. The Oriya expedition of Tondaimandalam was only a sudden raid which disappeared as speedily as it came.

After Mallikarjuna, the Vijayanagar throne passed on to the hands of his cousin Virupaksha-II (AD 1465-1485). About AD 1480, Muhammed-Ill, the Bahmani Sultan invaded Kancheepuram sieged the city and plundered much of its wealth. Iswara Nayaka, another Vijayanagar General was despatched to overcome the situation. He drove the Sultan out of the city and recovered the wealth plundered.

Virupaksha-II ruled till A.D. 1485, after which he was killed by his eldest, who, in turn was killed by his younger brother, Praudhadevaraya. This fusion in the capital lent an opportunity to Saluva Narasimha (A.D. 1486-1491), -the powerful ordinate to the Vijayanagar empire irtcharge of Tondaimandalam area, -become the emperor in A.D. 1486. After A.D. 1486, became the emperor of Vijayanagar. When Saluva Narasimha was the emperor, his local agent incharge of Thiruvothiyur region was Iswaara Nayakar. He was evidently the father of Narasa Nayaka, the able lieutenant of Saluva Narasimha. Saluva Narasimha was an able ruler who kept the Tamil country intact within the empire. After the death of Saluva Narasimha (A.D. 1491), his general Narasa Nayakar became the virtual ruler of the empire. He also crowned himself King later on, by puffing Narasimha’s son mmadi Narasimha to death.

The Vijayanagar empire was at the zenith of its power and glory during the rule of Krishnadevaraya (A.D. 1509-1529). His inscriptions are found in Kanchipuram., Thiruvothiyur, Kunnathur, Poonamallee, Mangadu and other places. The Kanchipuram inscriptions mention about his religious tour to the south after his military exploits against his enemies, his halting at the town and his benefaction to the temples of Kancheepuram. One of the important historical events that took place during the reign of Krishnadevaraya was the Portuguese visit to San Thome and the other places in the Coramandal Coast.[5] Saluvanayakkar Sellappar was a powerful and loyal chief of Krishnadevaraya and was incharge of the Tamil province of Vijayanagar Empire.[6].

When Krishnadevaraya was in his death bed, he nominated his brother Achyutaraya (A.D. 1530-1 542) to be his successor.[7] Achyutaraya visited Sri Varadarajaswamy temple in company of his wife Varada devi Amman and his son KumaraVenkatadri. Achyutarayabhyudayam, a sanskrit historical poem narrates an incident that Achyuta in the course of his expedition to the Tamil country to quell the rebellious Governor Sellappa.[8] This Sellappa rebelled against the Central Government and to quell this rebellion Achyuta let his army towards South. But, when Achyuta’s forces entered deep into Tamil Nadu chasing the rebel Governor, he fled to Tiruvadirajya.Achyuta died in about A.D. 1541 and was succeeded by his son Venkata-I, but a few months after his accession, he was murdered by his maternal uncle Salakaraju Tirumala.The latter’s tyrannical rule was cut short by Sadasiva.

Sadasiva (AD. 1542-1576) was a weak monarch and hence, his able Minister Ramaraya became the defacto ruler in whose hands the emperor was a mere puppet and even a prisioner. But the great power that he wielded and his interference affairs of the Sultanates of Deccan alienated the latter and brought ut the disastrous battle of Talikotta in A.D. 1565 in which the Vijayanagar was routed out and Ramaraya was captured and put to death. But, Sadasivaraya, the puppet king and Ramaraya’s brother Tirumala escaped.

Though the battle of Talaikota rendered the city of Vijayanagar and the empire utterly devastated, the imperial authority continued to be good force in South Indian politics for another half a century. Tirumala (A.D.1570-1571) attempted to re-establish the capital of Vijayanagar but failed because the Regent of Sadasiva shifted his capital from Vijayanagar to Penukonda in A.D.

1567. After three years, king Sadasiva was killed by Tirumala’s son. Then, Tirumala usurped the throne and became the emperor. He was the first ruler of the Aravidu line of kings. His youngest son Venkatapathi was sent as the Viceroy for the Tamil Country to which the capital was Chandragiri.[9] Tirumala’s work restored the empire, though in a truncated form and prolonged its life for about a century.

Sriranga-I (A.D. 1572-1585) began to rule in 1572 though his father continued to live in retirement for some six years longer. His inscriptions are found in Kancheepuram, Kunnathur and other places in the district. Sriranga’s reign witnessed some more incursions of the Muslims into the Vijayanagar Kingdom. The capital Penugonda itself came to be threatened. In the midst of these trying circumstances, Sriranga died in AD 1585 and was succeeded by his younger brother Venkata-II.

Venkata-II, (A.D. 1586-1614) who reigned about 28 years revived the past glory of the empire to a certain extent. He had his capital at Chandragiri. His association with the district may be studied with the help of his inscriptions found in Kanchipuram, Kunnathur, Mangadu and Tirunirmalai. From 1606, Vellore became his second capital.[10] In the Tamil Country too, Venkata faced a revolt headed by Lingama Nayaka of Vellore. Venkata gave the Perumpedu Simai tengalpattu and Madurantakam taluks) to one Yachama Nayudu as his amaram.

Yachama came into clash with Nagama of Uttiramerur, who was a subordinate to Lingama. In the fight between Yachama and Nagama, the latter was helped by Lingama and the Nayaks of Gingee, Thanjavur and Madurai. But, Yachama had the imperial support and it enabled him to defeat the forces of Lingama and Nagama. Another important historical, event that took place during the time of Venkata-lI was the establishment of the Dutch settlement at Pulicat. The growing commercial influence of the Dutch in Pulicat was resented by the Protuguese who had their trade settlement at San Thome. The jealousy of the Portuguese led them to take arms against the Dutch in Pulicat about A.D. 1612-1613.

Venkata-II died in AD 1614. His death was followed by a civil war in the royal family in which Sriranga, the rightful heir to Venkata-Il was put to death by the rebels. But, the loyalists under the leadership of Yachama crowned Ramadeva, the son of the deceased Sriranga. Ramadeva ruled till his death in 1630. During his rule, his father-in-law Ethiraja became the master of Pulicat on the east-coast where there was the Dutch settlement since 1610. It was during the Rama deva’s rule that the English was admitted to trade in the coastal village by a treaty with the Dutch.[11] But, after the establishment of the English factory at Pulicat in 1621, the position was found to be a difficult one.[12] Consequently, the English left for Masulippattinam abandoning Pulicat in 1623.The English interest in the East Coast never faded away. In 1626, the English obtained the grant of a small piece of land at Armagon, about 50 km. north of Pulicat. A fort and a factory were erected there. But, Armagon proved to be a very unsuitable place for carrying out their trade. Thomas Ivie who was then the chief at Masulippattinam authorised Francis day, the chief at Armagon, to undertake an exploration of the coast to find out a suitable place. DamralaVenkatappa, an influential local Chieftain of Venkata-III (1630-1642) the successor of Ramadeva to the Vijayanagar throne, offered Madraspatam, the present Madras, to the English for establishing their settlement. Around A.D. 1630, the Vijayanagar Empire became crippled in territorial extent and power. The subordinates and viceroys became independent powers eschewing their allegiance to the weak central government. Venkata-III became the king of the territory comprising Kancheepuram, Poonamallee, Chengalpattu and the modern city of Madras up to Wandiwash. Venkata-III was assisted in his administration by two able generals Damrala Venkata and Damrala Ayyappa. These two brothers were the sons of Chenna, the famous general of Venkata-II and they belonged to Kalahasti. It was these two Damrala brothers who offered to the English the small tract on the coast called Madrasapatam for their settlement (1639). The English greatefully refer to Damrala Venkatappa Nayaka, the elder and the more influential of the brothers as the “Lord General of Carnatic and “Grand Vazier”.

On the death of Venkata-III in 1642, his nephew Sriranga treacherously occupied the imperial throne much against the wishes of many Chieftains including the Damrala brothers. On his accession, Sriranga-III dismissed Damrala Venkatappa from his position and he openly intrigued with the Sultan of Golconda against his own overlord. The Golconda army had advanced near Pulicat and sieged village. However, Sriranga mustered courage and drove back the Golconda army. The English utilized d this moment to win the friendship of Sriranga further. They even extended their assistance to the Pulicat siege. The king also favoured the the English.. Meanwhile, the Bijapur and Golconda forces jointly invaded Sriranga’s territory which compelled the king to lift the siege of Pulicat. Sriranga continued to rule all his territory except Pulicat and Poonamallee provinces within which the factories of the Potuguese, the Dutch and the English lay. Jumla, the Golconda General who appears to have called himself the Nawab of the Carnatic from about the close of 1647.[13] In 1645, Sriranga retired to Tirupathi and that was the end of the Vijayanagar Kingdom.[14]

Footnotes and references:


Raman, K.V., Varadarajaswami Temple-Kanchi-A Study of History, Art and Architecture, op.cit., p.25.


Raman, K.V.,’Hoysalas in Kanchi’ in Sheik Ali, B., (ed.), The Hoysala Dynasty, University of Mysore, 1972, p.113.


Venkata Ramanyya, N., The Early Muslim Expansion in South India, University of Madras, Madras, 1942, p.192.


Raman, K.V., Varadarajaswami Temple-Kanchi-A Study of History, Art and Architecture, op.cit., p.27.


Love, Henry Davidson, Vestiges of Old Madras, (1640-1800), Madras, 1913, pp.287-289.


Krishnaswami Aiyangar, S., Sources of Vijayanagar History, Madras, 1924, p.12.


Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., A History of South India, op.cit., p.283.


Raman, K.V., Varadarajaswami Temple-Kanchi-A Study of History, Art and Architecture, op.cit., p.30.


Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., A History of South India, op.cit., p.296.


Sathianathaier, R., A Political and Cultural History of India, Vol.II, Madras, 1952, p.299.


Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., A History of South India, op.cit., p.300.


Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., A History of South India, op.cit., p.231.


Raman, K.V., The Early History of the Madras Region, op.cit., pp.126-127.


Krishnaswami Aiyangar, S., A History of Tirupathi, Tiruppathi, 1940, pp.245-248.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: