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 Tiruttani

Tiruttani is in the old Chittor district, now in Tamil Nadu. According to inscriptions, its ancient name was Tiruttaniyal.

There are three ancient temples in this town. On the top of the low-hill now served by a motor road is the temple of Subrahmanya. At the foot of the hill there are the Siva temple of Yirattanesvara and the Vishnu temple of Vijayaraghava Perumal.

(i) Virattanesvara temple

The Virattanesvara temple built of polished granite is a gem of architecture and the latest of the Pallava structural temples. On the south wall of this temple there are two Pallava inscriptions. One in Tamil verse (composed by the king himself? A.R. no. 433 of 1905) states that it was built by Nambi Appi; the second mentions that in the 18th regnal year of Vijaya Apara-jita Vikramavarman (A.R.E. no. 435 of 1905), Nambi Appi made a gift of 1000 kuli of land to the temple.

From an inscription of the 28th year of Rajaraja I, we learn that this place was called Jagannatha Chatur-vedimangalam. It relates to a private gift for feeding pilgrims to Tirupati. There is also an inscription of the fourth regnal year of an unspecified Rajakesarivarman which may be assigned to Rajaraja I (no. 432 of 1905). It mentions a gift for a lamp, and the supervision of the endowment was placed in the hands of the annual committee.

There are other gifts of the days of Rajendra I (10th year—436 of 1905—and 19th year—no. 434 of 1905) and also one of the 11th year of Vikrama Chola (later Chola).

An inscription of the 16th regnal year of an unspecified Parakesarivarman is found on a stone set up near the entrance to the temple (438 of 1905). This concerns the sale of land by the local assembly. We could say that it might belong to the pre-Rajaraja I age.

The Lord Subrahmanya on the hill is mentioned in an inscription on the east and north walls of this temple. The name of the donor and of the reigning king at the time of the gift are not available.

(ii) Subrahmanya temple on the hill

The temple of Suprahmanya on the hill has only four inscriptions. The earliest is one of the 32nd regnal year of Maduraikonda Parakesari. It concerns a gift of land. The inscription is engraved on a stone close to the garbhagriha. Its characters are modern and this place is said to be included in Jayangonda Chola mandalam, named after a surname of Rajaraja I. Perhaps it was a later distorted version of an earlier grant of the days of Parantaka I (no. 439 of 1905).

There is another damaged inscription of Maduraikonda Parakesari on a stone built in the wall of the antarala of the temple (no. 441 of 1905).

On the south wall of the central shrine, there is a Vijayanagar inscription of Vira Kampana Udaiyar (14th century). On the east wall of the first prakara, there is a Telugu inscription which states that the prakara wall was built by the Mahamandalesvara Tiruvengalanatha Raja deva Chola Maharaja of Vellandu (no. 442 of 1905)—a later Telugu-Chola chief.

(iii) Vijayaraghava Perumal temple

The third local temple is the Vishnu temple called that of Vijayaraghava Perumal. On the south wall of the central shrine there is an inscription of the 34th regnal year of Maduraikonda Parakesarivarman which relates to a gift of land by the local assembly of Tiruttaniyal to the temple of Tiruvandapuram, as this Vishnu temple is called in this inscription (no. 449 of 1905).

A descendant of Karikala called Narayana Raja claims to have built this temple (no. 447 of 1905).

There are also an inscription of Rajendra I (year lost, 446 of 1905) and another of the 31st regnal year of Rajadhiraja I which stops with the historical introduction (no. 444 of 1905).

We have evidence enough to establish the existence of all the three local temples during the period before the accession of Rajaraja I.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: