Early Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1960 | 105,501 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Parantaka I to Rajaraja I in the timeframe A.D. 907-985. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

Allur is about 6 miles (9.66 km.) from Tiruchy on the main road to Karur running along the southern bank of the Kaveri. There are two Early Chola temples in this village.

1. Panchanadisvara temple (Tiru Vadagudi Paramesvara)

The Panchanadisvara temple lies to the north of the village, close to the main road. The deity enshrined here is called in inscriptions Tiru Vadagudi Paramesvara or Mahadevar.

On the north base of the ardhamandapa there is an inscription of the 6th year of Madiraikonda Ko-Para-kesari, i. e., Parantaka I. It registers a gift by Bhuti Madevadigal to this temple of land bought from the Assembly (Parudaiyar) of Isanamangalam (371 A of 1903.)

A gift of gold for a lamp to this temple is made by the son of Virasola Ilango Velan in the 5th year of a Rajakesarivarman who may be identified with Gandar-aditya. The text of the relevant inscription (366 of 1903 E. I., XXVI, no. 8, pp. 82-84) reads: “......Virasola Ilango Velan orri Madurantakan mahanar Parantaka devarkkaha......but its full bearing is not clear.

This dvi-tala temple was perhaps a foundation of the days of Parantaka I, remodelled in the days of Rajaraja I and in the subsequent periods.

The garbhagriha is 18 ft. (5.49 m.) square. It has plain base-mouldings.There are niches flanked by pilasters on the three closed sides of the garbhagriha. The ardhamandapa measures 17 ft. (5.18 m.) by 13 ft. 9 in. (4.19 m.). There are two dvarapalas in front of it.[1]

2. Pasupatisvara temple (Allur Nakkan Koyil Paramesvara)

The deity of this temple is called in the inscriptions Allur Nakkan Koyil Paramesvara. The temple is situated in the south of the village, 2 miles (1.22 km.) away from the main road, in a big cocoanut tope which serves as the threshing-floor for the village.

We are not sure if the inscription of the 12th year of Rajakesarivarman (374 of 1903) refers to Aditya I. Inscriptions of Parantaka I range from his 17th to his 41st years (17th, 18th, 37th, 40th and 41st years corresponding respectively to Epi. Rep. nos. 381, 382, 375, 384 and 373 of 1903.)[2]

According to one of them, some waste-land and land silted up by the floods of the Kaveri were reclaimed and gifted to Allur Nakkan as devadana by the of Allur for offerings, services and provision for a lamp. The inscription of the 37th year of Parantaka I mentions a local governing body called the Allur Talaivoy Sanrom (“The most learned of Allur” consisting of eleven members), which is said to have been greatly concerned over the land silted up by the floods of the Kaveri lying waste for six or seven years, and openly made a bid to see if anyone would buy the land. Thereupon, one Siriyan Pullan came forward, offering to reclaim the land and make it over as a gift to Allur Nakkan Paramesvara for offerings. The body of the “most learned” then sold the land (of extent 10 ma sey) to the said donor, making the land tax-free. The running of village administration by men of high learning (and character) is a matter of great significance; similar bodies are said to have functioned in other centres such as Srinivasanallur, Yedaranyam and Sem-biyan Mahadevi in the Early Chola period. These facts bear testimony to the high regard in which learned men were held in that age; this rule by the wise comes very near the ideal set by Plato in his Republic.

The inscription of the 41st year refers to a gift for the singing of devaram hymns in the temple.

One Virasola Ilangovelan figures in an inscription of the 3rd year of a Rajakesari (380 of 1903) as well as in one of the 3rd year of a Parakesari (376 of 1903). According to the former, which may be assigned to Rajakesari Gandaraditya, a native of Pudukkudi reclaimed some waste-land and gave it away as a devadana to Allur Nakkan Koyil Paramesvara, with the permission of Virasola Ilangovelan alias Parantaka Kunjara Malian. And according to the latter, the wife of this chief, Gangamadeviyar by name, committed sati{“tippaikinrar”) and, prior to her self-immolation, made a gift of 20 kalanju of gold for the reclamation of one-fourth sey (land) to be used as an endowment for a lamp which was to be maintained by the temple-priest (tirukkovil-pattudaiyan).This inscription may be assigned to the period of Parakesari Arinjaya, the successor of Gandaraditya.

‘Mummadi Chola’ was a title assumed by Gandaraditya (vide the 6th year inscription of Rajaraja 1: 444 of 1918). Now, an officer called Mummadi Sola Ilangovelan figures in a 4th year Parakesari inscription (378 of 1903), and this inscription has also to be attributed to Arinjaya. It mentions that this Mummadi Sola Ilangovelan alias Adittan Munaiyaradittar issued a royal order (sri-mukham) to the owners of brahmadeya lands and to the nattom (brahmadeyakkilavarum nattomum) for the assignment of one veli of land as devadana without the eviction of tenants and free of tax (ninga devadana iraiyiliyaha). The executor of the royal order (anatti) was Avandiya Kovap-Pallavaraiyan alias Mayilai Dindan. The members of the local body received the royal order with due honours, ratified it and made the grant.

An inscription of the 17th year of Madiraikonda Rajakesari, which may be assigned to Sundara Chola, relates to a gift of gold to the local temple (377 of 1903).

This temple has to be assigned to the age of Parantaka I. It is an eka-tala stone temple (Pis. 1 and 2). The interior of the garbhagriha is a square 9 ft. (2.74 m.) side and its walls are 4 ft. 8 in. (1.42 m.) thick. The ardhamandapa is supported by four (later) pillars and measures 11 ft. 4 in. (3.45 m.) by 7 ft. 5 in. (2.26 m.). There are original dvarapalas at its entrance.

The mukhamandapa. a later structure, measures 12 ft. 3 in. (3.73 m.) by 10 ft. (3.05 m.). It is also supported by four pillars. The nandi has been shifted from its original position and placed in the mukhamandapa. The sikhara is bulbous and, though heavily stuccoed, seems to be of stone. All the devakoshta images are missing, but the original figure of Dakshinamurti now lies mutilated under the shade of a mango tree close by. Inside the mukhamandapa, there are some fine, old sculptures of Bhikshatanar, Chandesvara, Kartti-keya and Surya.

Footnotes and references:


There are some other inscriptions on the walls of this temple belonging to the middle and the later Cholas. One, of the 22nd year of Rajaraja I, refers to a gift of 33 kalanju of gold for feeding learned brahmans in the temple. Another, of the 4th year of Rajendra I, refers to an endowment of 5 kalanju of gold for feeding brahmans well-versed in the Vedas on new-moon days, and the sabha of Tiru-Vadagudi agreed to maintain the charity.

A fragmentary inscription of Rajadhiraja I (369 of 1903) mentions a chief called Ohai Udaiyan Kari Udaiyan, an officer in charge of the re-organisation of the administration. It also mentions the installation of a metal image of Uma - Skanda-sahitam tirumeni (now generally called Somaskanda) and the making of provision for offerings to Nili Vana Vitankar, Pirattiyar, Pillaiyar (Ganapati) and Pasupata devar.

An inscription of the 27th year of Rajadhiraja I refers to a gift of landas Mada-bhogam to Ambalattadi Tirunavukkaraiyan and his descendants for the recitation, in the mutt of the temple, of the Devaram hymns (devarat-tiruppadiyam-vinnappam-seyyum).

In the 37th year of Kulottunga III, the shrine of the goddess Dharma-samvardhini, referred to in inscriptions as Tiruk Kamakkottam Udaiya Nachiyar, was built in the second prakara of the temple.


Allur; Pasupatisvaram; On the walls of the main shrine and on those of the ardhamandapa there are inscriptions of Parantaka I ranging from his 17th regnal year to his 41st year.

SII, VUI—17 year—no. 695, 18 year—no. 696, 37 year—no. 689, 40 year-no. 698, 41 year—no. 686, and Year lost—no. 699.

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