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....

Tirumananjeri is in Mayuram taluk, 13 miles (21 km.) from the town of Mayuram, Tanjavur district, about 3 miles (4.8 km.) from Kuttalam and Tiruvelvik-kudi. The Lord Udvahanathasvamin of this temple (Arulvallanayakesvara) is sung both by Appar and Sambandar. The temple should have been originally built of brick.

Udvahanathaswamin temple (Arulvallanayakesvara)

There are two inscriptions on the south wall of the central shrine of the 4th year of a Parakesarivarman. The first (A.R. no. 11 of 1914) records a gift of a lamp and of 96 sheep for burning a perpetual lamp in the temple of Paramasvamin at Tirumananjeri by a kitchen-maid of the palace (madaippalli-pendatti) at Tanjavur. The inscription further states that she made a gift of the stone too on which the inscription was engraved (ivai vettina kallu onru). From this we have to infer that the temple must have been in the process of being built of stone.

The other (A.R. no. 14 of 1914) mentions the gift of a plate (bali-talam), a trumpet (kalam), a hanging lamp (tungu vilakku), a bell and an icon for the Sribali service (sri-bali-elundarulum-tirumeniyum) to the temple of Paramasvamin at Tirumananjeri by a Soliya-vaniyan (oil-monger or merchant). It also adds that the stone containing the inscription was also his gift (iv-vettina-kallum ivan-vasam).

Both these inscriptions could, on grounds of paleography, be assigned to the reign of Parantaka I. It seems that the reconstruction of this temple of stone was in progress about the 4th regnal year of Parantaka I.

On the southern wall of the central shrine there is an inscription of the 2nd year of a Rajakesarivarman, to be assignable to Rajaraja I, which mentions a gift by Sembiyan Mahadevi who gave birth to Uttama-chola. The Lord of the temple is called Tirukkarrali-Mahadevar at Tirumananjeri near Kadalampuri in Kurukkai nadu. She makes a gift of 14 of land in Mullangudi in Nallarru nadu and allots out of the income thereof paddy for several items of daily expenditure: tiruchchennadai, tiruvamudu, maintenance of temple priests and servants, four lamps, ghee, vegetables (kariamudu),adakkayamudu (betel& nuts), ten uvachchar (pipers, drummers and singers), four singers of Tirup-padiyam (Devaram hymns), gardeners and sweepers of temple premises. The inscription merely mentions that the temple was a karrali (stone temple) and does not specify when it was built and by whom. As in the case of a few temples like those at Kilappaluvur and Govindaputtur, the building of this temple of stone might have started in the days of Parantaka I and completed in the days of Uttama Chola.

In the 6th regnal year of Rajaraja I, at the command of Udaiya Pirattiyar (=Sembiyan Mahadevi) the mother of Uttama Chola, Aruran Kamban alias Tirukkarrali Pichchan of Tirumananjeri gave 16 kalanju of gold for sandal paste, offerings, cloths and oil (for lamps) to the Mahadevar of Tirumananjeri near the brahmadeya of Kadalangudi in Vadagarai Kurukkai nadu.

Another inscription (no. 10 of 1914) which has also to be assigned to Rajaraja I registers that Udaiya Pirattiyar in company with Kandadai Nambi and Pichchan Aruran Kamban who built the stone temple at Tirumananjeri fixed in grain the fees every servant of the temple was to receive for the services rendered and for the daily expenses of the temple.

The garbhagriha is 18 ft (5.5 m.) square with a central projection. The adhishthana is four feet (1.2 m.) high. Its kumudam is octagonal. The ardhamandapa projects forward by 16 ft (4.9 m.) and its kumudam is round. There is a door-way 5 feet (1.5 m.) wide between the ardhamandapa and the mukhamandapa which is 30 feet (9.1 m.) square.

The devakoshta figures on the outer walls of the garbhagriha are Dakshinamurti in the south, Lingod-bhavar in the west and Brahma in the north; and on the southern wall of the ardhamandapa are Bhikshatana-murti, Ganapati and Nataraja; while on its northern wall are Adisesha, Durga and Kankalamurti. All these seem to belong to the age of Uttama Chola.

There is a fine bronze of the Kalyanasundarar group (PL 234) similar to that at Tiruvelvikkudi (PI. 248) which has to be assigned to the age of Uttama Chola. There are also a few early Chola bronzes of Ganapati, Pradoshamurti, Chandesvara and of the Tamil Saint Manikkavasagar. They are of fine workmanship (Pis. 224-237).

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