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 Tirukkoyilur (13th year)

Tirukkoyilur on the southern bank of the Pennai (South Pennar) is 23 miles (37 km.) west of Villupuram. Tirukkovalur (or Koval) was the capital of the Malaiya-mans of “Maladu 2000” villages of the Sangam age. There are two early Chola temples here, one of Vishnu and another of Siva.

The Vishnu temple is associated with the early Alvars, and the Vaishnavite saint Tirumangai Alvar (8th century a.d.) has sung hymns on Tiru-Idaik-Kali-Alvar at Kovalur. This temple was renovated by a local chief in the middle of the 11th century a.d.

The Siva temple, situated on the south bank of the Pennai at Kilur, a suburb of Tirukkoyilur, is equally old and sacred. This place, according to local legends, is supposed to be one of the Virattana-Kshetras where Siva is supposed to have overcome Andhakasura.

This temple seems to have been in existence in Pallava times, as there are inscriptions of Nandivarman III and Nrpatunga.

The earliest Chola inscription in this temple is one of the fifth year of a Parakesarivarman which should be assigned to Vijayalaya; but the present structure seems to belong to the Parantaka period. There is an inscription of his 13th year which makes an endowment for the celebration of the Chaitra festival.

The temple faces the west. The basement is five feet (1.5 m.) high. It has padma mouldings and a frieze. The main temple measures 48 feet (14.6 m.) from west to east and 21 ft. 8 in (6.6m.) from north to south. The ardhamandapa projects forward 21 ft. 6 in. (6.5 m.) from the garbhagriha. There are two dvarapalas at its entrance. Above the yali frieze and below the pilasters of the main shrine there are 48 panels of miniature-sculptures. The cornice is adorned with kudus having human and yali heads as insets. Circles adorn the edges of the cornice. Brahma and Lingodbhavar can be considered as the sculptures of the original temple. There are sub-shrines for Ganesa, Subrahmanyar, Surya, and the Saptamatrikas.

There is a sculpture of Durga of good workmanship placed now loosely in the northern prakara. It may be of the late Pallava or early Chola age.

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