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....

Temples in Tirukkalavur (Tirukkarugavur)

Tirukkalavur The temple of Tirukkarugavur dates back at least (Tirukkaru- to the days of the Devaram hymnists Appar and gavur) Sambandar, of the 7th century a.d. The Moon and the Constellations are said to have worshipped the Lord of this place. The local legends mention the succour given by Him to a child in the womb of a helpless woman. Hence the name of Tiruk-karu-kavur, the abode of One Who saved a child still in the mother’s womb.

Madhuvanesvara (Mullaivanesvara) temple

The present temple dates back to at least the time of Parantaka I. His earliest inscription here is that of the 14th year (‘Madirai-konda Parakesari’: 36 of 1910). It refers to a gift of land for a lamp by Samundan Murti to the Mahadevar of Tirukkarugavur, situated near Tirukkudamukku (Kumbakonam) and a devadana in Pamburnadu on the north bank of the Kaveri. Among the boundaries of the donated land, there is mention of a channel of the Kaveri called Utpalaru, a branch or drainage channel of the main river.

The next inscription to be considered is A.R. no. 35 of 1910. It begins with the third year of Parakesari and ends abruptly. In continuation thereof, there is an inscription of the 16th year of Parakesari. H. Krishna Sastri was inclined to attribute it to either Parantaka I or Uttama Chola (the latter in view of the absence of the epithet ‘Madurai-konda’). But the inscription is marked with pullis throughout, as in the inscription of the 14th year of Parantaka I above. Hence it can be safely attributed to Parantaka I. It registers a sale of land by the General Assembly of the village (Mulap-Perumakkal)for the maintenance of a lamp in the temple. One of his 27th year (42 of 1910) refers to a list of lands owned by the temples of Mahadevar, Kala Pidari and Mahavishnu in this village called Palk-Karugavur.

Another inscription of his 39th year (37 of 1910) registers a gift by a maid-servant of the Queen Villavan Mahadeviyar. Other inscriptions relate to gifts for lamps, offerings and festivals.

There are three inscriptions of the 5th year of an unspecified Parakesari, who may be Aditya II or Uttama Chola, in view of the mention of the names of Koyil Mayilai alias Parantaka Muvendavelan and of Singan Kaliyan alias Uttama Chola Muvendavelan (45 and 46 of 1910). It may be added that the same donor figures also in an inscription of the 3rd year of Aditya II (‘Pandiyan talai-ko’) at Kumbakonam (230 of 1911).

The original temple consisted of the garbhagriha and the ardhamandapa. A mukhamandapa was added in the later Chola period. On the north side of this mandapa there is a shrine for Nataraja fashioned in the shape of a chariot. On either side of its gateway there are sculptures of Ganapati and Subrahmanyar in the places where dvarapalas are usually installed.

There are subshrines for Ganapati, Subrahmanyar and Chandesvara.

The prakara enclosing the main shrine and its adjuncts is enclosed by a madil with a gopuram in front of the sanctum. Further to the east is the main gopuram. On the northern side of the main shrine there is a separate Amman shrine which should be assigned to the later Chola period.

As already seen, the local inscriptions point to the existence, in the days of Parantaka I, of temples dedicated to Kala Pidari and to Vis h nu in addition to this Siva temple. The Siva temple itself might have been a foundation even of the days of Aditya I; one is led to hazard this conjecture because of the installation of Ardhanarisvara in the rear devakoshta of the temple, and it is rendered more plausible by the fact that the Mackenzie Manuscripts (“South Indian Temple Inscriptions”) contain, in addition to a few more Parakesari inscriptions (some of which might belong to Parantaka I 8th year, 644 and 646; 13th year, 645; 17th year, 647; 21st year, 649; and 23rd year, 648 of ibid., Vol. II, pp. 621 If.), eye-copies of four Rajakesari inscriptions, of the 17th, 18th, 21st and 24th years (respectively nos. 652, 653, 655 and 651 of ibid., Vol. II), which seem to be assignable only to Aditya I owing to their high regnal years (Pis. 51, 53 to 55)[1].

Footnotes and references:


The Government Epigraphist has been requested to have these inscriptions copied, and the results of a visit to this temple by officers of the Department are awaited.

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