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 Tiruvandarkoyil (Vadugur)

Tiruvandarkoyil is in the union territory of Pondicherry, 11 miles (17.70 km.) from Villupuram on the road to the town of Pondicherry. The present Panchanadisvara temple here was known in the past as that ofTiruvarai Nakkan Koyil Paramasvamin at Tribhu-vana Mahadevi Chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeya on the northern bank of the Tribhuvani river, now called the Pennai. In an inscription of Kulottunga I, the deity is called Tiruvaiyaru Udaiya Mahadevar (equivalent to Panchanadisvara).

Panchanadisvara temple

There are three inscriptions here of a Parakesari-varman who may be identified with Parantaka I; they mention gifts of a house-site and of a lamp to the temple (15th, 16th (unfinished), and 40th years: respectively 366, 369 and 376 of 1917).

An inscription of the 5th year of a Rajakesarivarman (359 of 1917) who is to be identified with Rajaraja I mentions a gift of land made in the 14th year of Madirai-konda Parakesarivarman (Parantaka I). It adds that in former years the local Sabha had utilised some silver vessels and gold belonging to the temple for meeting the expenses of the Sabha (Sabha-viniyogam) and, in exchange therefor, the Sabha sold some lands in favour of the temple in the 28th year of Kannaradeva, the Rashtrakuta Krishna III (i.e., in a.d. 967-968).

An inscription of the 12th year of Rajaraja I (362 of 1917) mentions that the Assembly of Tribhuvana Mahadevi Chaturvedimangalam met in the mandapa built by Mummudi Chola Umbala-nattuvelan and remitted the taxes on a hamlet purchased and gifted to the temple.

The original name of this place is Vadugur. Sambandar (7th century) has sung a hymn on the Lord of this place, whom he calls ‘Tiru Vadugur Nathar’. Though there is a fragmentary inscription of the 5th year of a Rajakesari, whose script seems sufficiently early to be attributed to Aditya I, the present structure seems to belong to the days of Parantaka I.

The main shrine stands on a basement 5 ft. (1.53 m.) high. It has plain mouldings. Below the pilasters, there are panels of miniature-sculptures as at Pullamangai.

The garbhagriha is a square 19 ft. 6 in. (5.94 m.) side, with three central projections containing the niches of the devakoshtas. There are a bhutagana frieze below the cornice and a yali frieze above it. The cirdhamandapa extends forward by 8 ft. 2 in. (2.49 m.). It stands on four pillars having 16 facets and cushion-capitals. There are two dvarapalas guarding the entrance to this mandapa. The sikhara is circular; it is a later structure made of stucco.

The original figures of the devakoshtas seem to be: Bhikshatanar and Dakshinamurti in the south, Lingod-bhavar in the west and Brahma and Durga in the north. But other images are found inserted in improvised niches between the original ones: Ganesa (not fitting its niche) next to Bhikshatanar, Ardhanarisvara next to Brahma, and Rishabharudha next to Durga. The temples at Karandai and Tirup-purambiyam display this feature of insertion of images in improvised niches in between the original niches; such insertions happened perhaps in the days of Uttama Chola (Pis. 84 to 87).

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