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 Siyamangalam

Siyamangalam is in the Vandavasi (Wandiwash) taluk of the North Arcot district. It contains a Siva temple named that of Sthambhesvara (or Tun-Andar in Tamil) which consists of a rock-cut shrine, two mandapas in front of it and a stone wall of enclosure.

Sthambhesvara (Tun-andar) temple (Tirrukkarrali Mahadevar)

The original rock-temple was done in the days of the Pallava king, Mahendravarman I (7th century a.d.). There are two rock-cut pillars at the entrance to this temple and there is an inscription on each of them. There are a number of Chola inscriptions on the walls of enclosure and on the surface of the rock in the northeast corner of the temple.

The earliest inscription (a Sanskrit verse in Pallava-grantha script) is the one engraved on the right pillar of the entrance (A.R. no. 67 of 1900). It mentions that this rock temple called Avanibhajana-Pallavesvaram was caused to be made by King Lalitankura. These two names are the surnames of Mahendravarman I (7th century a.d.).

There is another inscription in Tamil inscribed on the left pillar of the gateway of the temple. It records that in the 3rd year of Nandivikramavarman, one Adavi, the Kilavan (headman) of Tiruppalaiyur, obtained the permission of his immediate overlord Sri Gangaraiyar (the Ganga king) Nergutti Peruman and built the mukhamandapa in front of the rock temple for the merit of his mother. It seems that the Ganga ruler was a feudatory of the Pallava king Nandivikramavarman. As the script of this inscription resembles that of the Tiruvallam rock inscription, it seems reasonable to assign it to Nandivarman Pallavamalla II (a.d. 731-796).

The other mandapa and the stone wall of enclosure were constructed during the Chola period (Epi. Ind. VI, no. 32).

One of the earliest inscriptions during the Chola period is one of the 22nd regnal year of Sri Kannara-deva, evidently the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III. Akkayi devi, the daughter of Sri Kannaradeva makes a grant of land for food offerings (tiruvamudu or Olukkavi) to Tirukkarrali Mahadevar of Siyamangalam.

There are three inscriptions of a Kop-Parakesari. One of them is an inscription of the fourth year of Vira Pandyan Talaikonda Kop-Parakesari which may be assigned to Aditya II, the son of Sundara Chola. It refers to a gift by Ganga Sulamani alias Mummudi Sembiyan Siya Gangaraiyan to Tirukkarrali Ma (devar) of Siyamangalam. The title of Mummudi Sola was borne by Gandaraditya (E.C.A. I, p. 190). So this chief should belong to the period of Gandaraditya or to a later period.

Another inscription of the third year of an unspecified Parakesari (SII, VII, no. 73; A.R. no. 69 of 1900) may also be assigned to Aditya II as one Mummudi Sola Sembiyan Sri Kongaraiyan who is said to be the governor of Palkunrakkottam, Venkunrakkottam and Singapura nadu (the region round about Gingee) makes a gift of land for offerings of Olukkavi or Tiruvamudu to Tirukkarrali Mahadevar of Siyamangalam.

Another inscription of the 5th year of a Kop-Parakesarivarman (north wall, mandapa, SII, VII, no. 64; A.R. no. 60 of 1900) mentions a gift of 10 ma of land bought from the urar for a lamp to Tirukkarrali Mahadevar of Siyamangalam. We are not sure if the grant could be assigned to the period of Aditya II, as the ur of Siyamangalam is described as being included in the larger territorial division of Jayangonda Sola mandalam. It may be observed that the title of Jayangonda Sola was assumed by Rajaraja I, and that too later in his reign. So, on the available evidence, this record should belong to the Parakesari later than Rajaraja I. Perhaps it may belong to Rajendra Chola I.

There are other Chola inscriptions of Rajaraja I (19th year A.R. no. 227 of 1901), Kulottunga I, Vikrama Chola and Kulottunga II.

An inscription of Kulottunga I (A.R. no. 61 of 1900) mentions that a certain local officer called Kulottunga Sola Sambuvarayan built the northern part of the Tirumaligai (wall of enclosure) of this temple and had the earlier gifts re-engraved on this new wall of enclosure.

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