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....

Andanallur, called Andavanallur in inscriptions, lies on the road from Tiruchy to Karur, between Allur and Tiruchchendurai and about 7 miles and 3 furlongs (11.87 km.) from Tiruchy. It has an ancient Chola temple called the temple of Vata Tirthanathar or Tiru Alandurai Mahadevar (in Tamil).

Vata Tirthanathar temple (Tiru Alandurai Mahadevar)

On its walls are to be found ten inscriptions of a Parakesari without epithets of identification, ranging from his 10th to his 25th years. The chief donor figuring in most of them is one Sembiyan Irukkuvel alias Pudi Parantakan. Two consorts of his also find mention: Puliyur Nattadigal (348 to 1903) and Singan Nimmadigal (357 of 1903). In the 10th year of Parakesari, Puliyur Nattadigal made an endowment of 30 kalanju of gold for a perpetual lamp to the Mahadevar of Andavanallur in Kiliyur nadu. The amount was deposited with the urom of Andavanallur who agreed to supply one ulakku of ghee every day.

An inscription of the 11th year of Parakesari (359 of 1903) mentions the same chief, Sembiyan Irukkuvel; he claims to have built the temple of Tiru Alandurai Perumanadigal at Andavanallur. He obtained the permission of the king through a petition to assign to this temple three veli of land which he had bought and converted into a kudineekkiya devadana (gift of land to a temple with the right to evict the previous tenants). By a royal order (sri-mukham) issued in the 18th year of Parakesari, the same land was made over to the local Chola officer, Araiyan Virasolan, for being assigned as a devadana gift to the temple (kudi neekkiya devadana kanik kadamaiyaha), and the latter did so: the inscription of the 25th year of Parakesari (360 of 1903) registers the transfer of this gift of the three veli of land to the local temple by that officer.

An inscription of the 14th year of Parakesari (349 of 1903) registers a gift as devadana of a garden-land bought from a brahman of Isanamangalam by Sembiyan Irukkuvel alias Pudi Parantakan, and another of the same year (358 of 1903) mentions the construction of this temple of stone by this chief. After the completion of the building of this temple of stone, the chief performed the consecration ceremony (Jalasamprokshanam) and made a gift of seven veli and a half of land as devadana in the village of Mullikkurumbu for various temple services: sennadai (food oblations), eight sacred perpetual lamps, four manis (temple servants), two conch-blowers, two trumpet blowers, two flower gardens (pallittamam=flowers), one person to beat the gong (segandigai), sandal paste coatings for the deity, one ulakku of ghee daily, the sounding of karandigai and the singing of Tiruppadiyam (hymns).

The relevant lines are:—

“Andavanallurt-Tiruvalan-durai Paramesvarakku Sembiyan Irukkuvel ayina Pudi Parantakan Karrali eduttu Jalasamprokshanam seyda nanru devadanam seydu kudutta ur.... Mullikkurumbu....” (SII, III, Pt. Ill, no. 139).

Thus, it will be clear that the chief who figures as the builder in stone of the temple of Andanallur is mentioned in Parakesari inscriptions, referring to one and the same king, from his 10th to his 18th year; and the completion of the transfer of the land-gift made by the builder was finally effected in the 25th year of the same Parakesari. The only Parakesari with such high regnal years (up to 25) in the Early Chola period is Parantaka I. There is a thread of unity running through all the above mentioned records and hence I am inclined to attribute all the inscriptions referred to above to the period of Parantaka I.

There is yet another point in confirmation of the above conclusion. In an inscription of the 15th year of Parakesari (38 of 1895), there is a reference to a gift of land bought from the Urar of Sattanur in Uraiyur Kurram for a lamp to the local temple, made by Pudi Madevadigal, consort of Kannaradeva: this Kannara-deva is identical with a son of Aditya I and brother of Parantaka I.

Hence, in my opinion, all the records of Parakesari-varman, even though without distinguishing epithets, should be attributed only to Parantaka I; and the temple of Andanallur should have been built of stone in or before his 11th regnal year.[1]

The garbhagriha measures 18 ft. 6 in. (5.64 m.) from north to south and 14 ft. 2 in. (4.32 m.) from east to west. There is an ardhamandapa projecting 12 ft. 6 in. (3.81 m.) in front (east to west). There is also a later mukhamandapa extending 17 ft. 6 in. (5.33 m.) further. The basement has plain mouldings. The vimana is two-tiered (dvi-tala) and the sikhara is bulbous (PI. 6).

Footnotes and references:


I am unable to accept the equation of Pudi Parantakan with Parantaka, son of Bhuti Vikramakesari of Kodumbalur, suggested by the Government Epi-graphist (vide Epi. Rep. 1908, para. 91). I am equally unable to accept the attribution of the 14th year Parakesari inscription to Vttama Chola (Epi. Rep. no. 358 of 1903, SII, in, no. 139; and “The Colas” by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, Vol. I, First Edition, p. 471).

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