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 Govindaputtur (Govandaputtur)

We have already discussed this temple in the chapter on Parantaka I. This place is situated on the northern bank of the river Kollidam (the Coleroon). It is best approached from Kilappaluvur. From there, it is at a distance of about 23 miles (37 km.) via Vikra-mangalam.

Ganga-Jathadharesvara temple

This place has been visited by the Devaram hymnists, Appar and Sambandar (7th century a.d.). Appar calls the main deity of this temple the Lord of Tiru-Vijaya-mangai (Vijayanatesvara) at Govandaputtur, the place where a cow is said to have attained salvation by worshipping the Lord here. The place is described (stanza 3 of Tirukkuruntogai) as situated on the bank of the Kollidam. In stanza 8, he describes how Parthan, son of Pandu, did penance here and gained the Lord’s favour. Perhaps the reference is to the obtaining of Pasupatham. “Panduvin Mahan Parthan pani seydu Vendum Varan-kol Visayamangai.”

Sambandar describes that the place was situated in a fine grove; he also mentions the tradition of the worship of the Lord of Vijayamangai by a cow (godanam-vali-pada) and by Yedic scholars (‘Kulam-nan murai-vediyar-Toludelu-Visayamangai eesay)’.

The garbhagriha is 19 feet (5.8 m.) square; it has a central projection covering the central devakoshta (7 feet—2.1 m.—long). The antarala measures 2\ ft. (o.8 m.) and beyond it, we have the ardhamandapa projecting 10 ft. (3.0 m.) forward and a mukhamandapa which measures 34 feet (10.3 m.) east to west and 18 ft. (5.5 m.) north to south. The adhishthana is 4 feet (1.2 m.) high and it has rounded kumudam. It is an eka-tala structural temple and its sikhara is round. The figures of the devakoshtas clockwise are: Nataraja, Ganapati (in a new niche cut into the inscribed wall), Dakshinamurti (not of the age of the main temple), Vishnu (on the west), Brahma (with Rishabhantika in a torana above its koshta), Durga, Bhikshatanar and Kalarimurti (inserted). At the entrance to the ardhamandapa are two dvarapalas.

The mouldings of the adhishthana and the installation of Vishnu in the back niche of the garbhagriha would indicate that the starting of the construction of the temple and the building of the garbhagriha might have taken place in the period of Parantaka I and completed in the days of Uttama Chola. The presence of an inscription of the 22nd year of a Parakesarivarman who is to be identified as Parantaka I and the prevalence of the name of Parantaka-Chaturvedi-mangalam assigned to this place further corroborate the association of this temple with Parantaka I.

The Government Epigraphist (MER 1928-29, p. 73) holds the view:

“The mention of the name of the God coupled with the fact that the temple here contains a record of Parantaka I and had to be rebuilt in stone even in the time of Uttama Chola indicates the antiquity of the shrine....”.

This view has to be modified. The temple, at least the garbhagriha part of it, must have been built of stone even in the days of Parantaka I and the temple should have received its additions and had its completion in the days of Uttama Chola.

Attention of the readers may be drawn to the structure of the main vimana of this temple as well as the original devakoshta and torana of Durga, which should belong to the age of Parantaka I (PI. 154) and to the sculpture of Kalarimurti inserted into an improvised niche, cut out of the old inscribed wall of the sanctum belonging to the days of Parantaka I, to receive the new image in the days of Uttama Chola (PI. 156)!

One Ambalavan Paluvuran alias Sri Vikrama Chola-marayan seems to have given the finishing touches to the ardhamandapa, the construction of the mukhaman-dapa, the madil (wall of enclosure) and the gopuram (Pis. 149 -161).

Important Inscriptions

On the south wall of the central shrine is an inscription of the 10th year (no. 170 of 1929) of Kopparakesari panmar (Uttama chola) which relates to a gift of 96 sheep for a perpetual lamp in the temple of Sri-Vijayamangalattu-Mahadevar at Periya Sri-Vanavan-mahadevi-Chaturvedi-mangalam, a brahma-deya on the northern bank of the river, by Ambalavan Paluvuran alias Sri Vikrama Sola-Marayan who is stated to have been the builder of this temple of stone (itu-tiruk-karrali-seyvitta).

2. On the north wall of the central shrine is an inscription of the 13th year of Kopparakesarivarman (Uttama Chola) (no. 157 of 1929). It refers to an agreement, with penalties for default, by the Siva-brahmanas of Periya-Sri-Vanavan-Madevi-chaturvedimangalam to give and perform regularly certain specified offerings and services to the (new) temple of Sri-Kailasattu-Alvar raised in the village by one Aryan Sankara-Narayanan alias Sola Muttaraiyar in lieu of a gift of land.

3. On the north and west walls of the central shrine, there are two inscriptions (i) (no. 164 of 1929) a bi-lingual inscription (in Sanskrit and Tamil) of the 14th year of Uttama Chola and (ii) a Tamil inscription of the 7th year of Rajaraja I.

(i) One Ambalavan Paluvur Nakkan of Kuvalalam (Kolar in the present-day Mysore State), a nobleman of the king’s council who obtained from the king the title of Vikarama-sola-Maharajan, after the surname of his overlord, is said to have built the temple of Vijayamangalattu Mahadevar of stone at Periya-Sri-Vanavan-Mahadevi-chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeya on the northern bank of the river. He is said to have made an endowment of the village of Naduvayil and its hamlets for offerings, services and other requirements for worship.

The donor is said to have been a member of the fourth caste, and the personification of all good qualities. The king is said to have been pleased with his valour and to have conferred on him the title of Vikarama-Chola-Maharaja.

(ii) In continuation of this bilingual inscription, there is inscribed an order of the 7th year of Rajarajadeva (I); the same chief, here called Rajaraja Pallava-rayan, fixes, during his camp at Sri-Vijayamangalam, in elaborate detail all the requirements in terms of paddy for feeding 30 sivayogins and 20 brahmanas daily in the temple:

“Ko-parakesari-Panmarkku yandu 14 avadu udaiyar-Perun tirattu Kuvalala-mudaiyan Ambalavan Paluvur-nakkanana Vikrama Sola Maharajanen vadgarai—brahmadeyam Periya—Sri-Vanavan-Mahadevi-Chaturvedi-Mangalattu Sri-Vijayamangalattu-Mahadevar Sri-Vimanam kallal elundarulivittu itu tevark-kuttiru-vamirtukkum tiru vilakkukkum Sri-balikkum tiru-meyppuchchukkum tiruppukaikkum tiru-nandavanappurattukkum tiru-vilakukkum Stapanangaluk-kum marrum it-tevarkku vendum aradinaikal epperppattana avadukalukkum nan kodutta uravadu......”.

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