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....

Sembiyan Mahadevi is a village situated six miles (9.7 km.) south east of Kivalur on the Tiruvalur-Nagapattinam road and 3 miles (4.8 km.) south east of Tevur.

Kailasanathasvamin temple

The illustrious royal lady Sembiyan Mahadevi, the mother of Uttama Chola, built or renovated of stone many a temple in the vast Chola country; and countless were her gifts and endowments to temples. Above all she created a new town named after her, built a new temple and settled here a colony of brahmans. The Parakesari inscriptions ranging from his 12th to his 16th regnal years should be attributed to Uttama Chola. She led a dedicated life after her early widowhood. Her exemplary life of absolute renunciation and spiritual dedication crowned her with glory. Her son and his several queens, and all the members of the royal family including the future Rajaraja I held her in great esteem. They all loved and adored her.

This new village of her creation was colonised by brahmans versed in the four Vedas, Chaturvedi bhattas; and the administration of the charitable institutions, religious endowments and other gifts connected with this place and the temple was entrusted to a learned body called Scisana badha Chaturvedi bhatta dam peru-makkal (496 of 1925). There was also a similar learned body at Srinivasanallur (538 of 1904). Such institutions have gone beyond recall.

Out of the valuable endowments and gifts made by Sembiyan Mahadevi and her daughters-in-law may be mentioned the provision for gifts of lamps, offerings and the sacred bath of the deity on all Sankranti days, gifts of a gold forehead plate, and a gold-handled fly-whisk, and the celebration of the birth day of Sembiyan Mahadevi on the day of her natal star Jyestha (Kettai) in the month of Chitrai.

An inscription of the 3rd year of a Rajakesarivarman who has to be identified with Rajaraja I (497 of 1925) gives us a detailed list of articles—gold pot (weighing 190 kalanjn), two gold forehead plates (90 and 26 gold flowers (about 96 kalanju) presented by Sembiyan Mahadeviyar.

Provision was made in the 8th year of Rajendra I for offerings and worship to the images of Ishabha (Rishabha) - Vahanadevar and of Queen Sembiyan Madevippirattiyar and of several other images in the temple for which no offerings had hitherto been made (481 of 1925).

Another inscription of Rajendra I mentions a man-dapa in the temple called Sembiyan Mahadeviyar Periya mandapam and the existence at Moganur, a western hamlet of the village, of a temple called Adityesvaram Udaiya Mahadevar (483 of 1925).

An inscription of Rajaraja III (a.d. 1233) mentions that the Assembly of the village decided to hold their meetings for the conduct of grama kariyam (village affairs) and kadamaik-kariyam(matters of land revenue) only during the day time as the night meetings consumed oil in excess of the quantity sanctioned for the lighting of the hall at nights. It was also decided not to re-elect the old members of the Assembly until after five years in order to prevent the rise to power and influence of the ambitious and unscrupulous persons especially in the troubled times of Rajaraja III.

The village of Sembiyan Mahadevi is itself both a symbol of her greatness and a fitting memorial to this noble royal lady, but it is now a deserted village devoid of its ancient grandeur.

The temple faces the east. It is a dvi-tala structure with a round griva and sikhara. The stupi is modern.

The garbhagriha is a square 19 ft. 4 in. (5.9 m.) side. A narrow antarala (one and a half feet—o.5 m.—wide) connects it with the ardhamandapa. This extends 16 ft. (4.9 m.) in front. There are two dvarapalas at its entrance. It rests on four round pillars with cushion capitals and brackets with roll-ornament.

The pilasters have padma, palagai and brackets with roll-ornament. It has a bhutagana frieze below the cornice and a yali frieze above it.

The devakoshta figures are Agastyar, Nataraja and Ganapati (ardhamandapa portion), Dakshinamurti,

Vishnu (a later substitute for Lingodbhavar) and Brahma (garbhagriha) and Ardhanarisvara, Durga and Bhikshatanar (ardhamandapa).

The existence of subshrines could be inferred from the presence of the sculptures of Jyeshtha and a set of Saptamatrikas found in the covered mandapa of the temple close to the wall of enclosure (Pis. 186-193).

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