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....

The temple at Tirukkodikkaval has had a long history from the days of Nandipottaraiyar (III) of the Pallava dynasty, but in the 11th year of a Parakesarivarman who is to be identified with Uttama Chola, it was rebuilt of stone by Sembiyan Mahadeviyar (36 of 1930-31).

Tirukkottisvara temple

It is recorded that before the work of reconstruction of the temple, she caused to be collected all the inscribed stones nearly 26 of them that lay scattered about, and ordered that the old inscriptions be re-inscribed on the walls of the newly built temple, Each of the reengraved inscriptions is marked as copy.

The earliest of these copied inscriptions is one of the 19th year of Nandipottariyar (III). It mentions a gift of paddy for a lamp to the God of the temple called here Sirunangai Isvaram.

Nandivarman III was followed by Nrpatunga. His queen Vira-Mahadeviyar performed, in the 22nd year of her husband’s reign Hiranyagarbha and ceremonies, and a part of the gold thereof was presented to the Mahadevar at Tirukkodikka (the ancient name of this place) for offerings and lamps (38 of 1930-31).

There are four inscriptions of the Pandya ruler Maran Sadaiyan alias Yaraguna Maharaja. One of them of his 11th year mentions a gift of gold by the Pandya Maharaja himself for lamps to the shrines of Sri, Sarasvati and Ganapati. These gifts relate to the period of Pandyan penetration into the Chola and Pallava country during their struggle for supremacy.

This region seems to have passed, for a short time, into the hands of the Muttaraiyars as attested by an inscription of the 17th year of Ilango Muttaraiyar the border chief from whom Vijayalaya captured Tanjai and Vallam. Ilango’s inscriptions are also found at Niyamam and Koyiladi.

Three inscriptions of an unspecified Parakesarivar-man (3rd and 4th years) may belong to Vijayalaya. One of them refers to a sale of land in Kalakkudi by the Assembly of Mahendravarma-Chaturvedimangalam to the temple of Tirukkodikka.

There are six inscriptions of a Rajakesarivarman (4th to 15th regnal years). They have to be assigned to Aditya I or Sundara Chola. One of the 13th year is a gift of land by purchase from the Assembly of Tirukkodikka alias Kannamangalam to the temple; and it may belong to the days of Aditya I.

The Udayendiram Plates of Nandivarman II mention that Nandi II was besieged by the other Tamil kings who supported the cause of the pretender to the Pallava throne Chitramaya at Nandipuram and that he was rescued by his general Udaya Chandra. That this Nandipuram was Palaiyaru, the later secondary Chola capital, can be inferred from an inscription of the 15th year of a Rajakesarivarman. This refers to a gift for offerings and lamp by a merchant of puram, near Kumbakonam (31 of 1930-31).

Inscriptions of the days of Parantaka I range from his 3rd to his 38th year. One of his 3rd year is a gift of land by Maran Sadaiyan, the name of a Pandyan ruler (11 of 1930-31). The only Pandyan ruler who was the contemporary of Parantaka I was Rajasimha II, the last of the Pandyan rulers of the First Empire.

I wonder if Rajasimha II had the surname of Maran Sadaiyan; other inscriptions are gifts of land, gold or sheep for offerings and lamps.

Among the original inscriptions (not copies) engraved on the walls of this newly built temple should be mentioned one of the 11th year of Rajaraja I. It refers to the setting up of Surya deva in the temple by Ilaiyan Aditta Pidaran.

This is a temple rebuilt of stone in the days of Uttama Chola by Sembiyan Mahadevi.

This is an eka-tala temple. It has a bulbous sikhara. The garbhagriha is a square 17 ft. (5. 18 m.) side. The antarala, two feet (0.6 m.) wide, connects it with the ardhamandapa which projects forward 16 ft. 9 in. (5.1 m.). This is supported by four round pillars with cushion capitals.

The devakoshta sculptures are Nataraja, Ganapati,

Agastyar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhavar, Brahma, Bhikshatanar, Durga and Ardhanarisvara (Pis. 174-180).

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