Later Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1979 | 143,852 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Kulottunga I to Rajendra III in the timeframe A.D. 1070-1280. 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....

Tiruppulivanam, in the Kanchipuram taluk of the Chingleput district, is 5 km. north of Uttiramerur and lies equi-distant from Chingleput and Kanchipuram, south-west of the former and south of the latter, and at a distance of 75 km. to the south-west of Madras city. There is a Siva temple, dedicated to Vyaghrapurisvara, which lies north-west of the modern village of Tiruppulivanam.

The ancient name of the main deity was Tiruppulivanam-Udaiya Nayanar and the temple is said to have been located at Rajendrasola chaturvedimangalam, a subdivision of Kaliyur Kottam in Jayangondasola mandalam. Uttaramerur was known in the days of the later Pallavas as Uttiramerur chaturvedimangalam (Nandivarman Pallavamalla); in the latter half of the reign of Rajendra Chola I, the place is renamed after the king as Rajendrasola chaturvedimangalam and, still later, in the days of the Telugu Choda chiefs (i.e., in the last days of the Cholas), as Gandagopala chaturvedimangalam.

Vyaghrapurisvara temple

The Vyaghrapurisvara temple is a foundation of the days of Pallava Nandivarman II (SII, VI, no. 355) and thus belongs to the 8th century a.d. From an inscription dated in the 37th year of Kulottunga III (ARE 396 of 1923), we gather that in the 14th year of Rajamarttandan alias Aparajita Vikramavarman, four perpetual lamps were authorised to be burnt in the temple and necessary provision was made for the purpose; in this inscription there is a reference to similar endowments for lamps, made in the 13th year of Parantaka I and 18th year of ‘Kannaradeva who took Kachchi and Tanjai’ (i.e., Rashtrakuta Krishna III). However, we have no trace of the original structure—which should have been in brick and mortar, as the earliest inscription found on the walls of the temple dates back only to the 3rd year of Kulottunga I. His inscriptions are as follows: 3rd year: ARE 398 and 395 of 1923; 25th year: ARE 328 and 391 of 1923; 45th year: ARE 207 of 1923. The first (3rd year) inscription is found on the east wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine; however, the inscription dated in his 25th year is found on the central shrine itself. We may therefore conclude that the old temple dating back to Pallava days was in brick and that it was rebuilt of stone in the time of Kulottunga I, prior to his 25th year, while the mandapa could belong to an earlier era, probably the days of Rajendra I, when the prakara had come into existence.

The forty-fifth year record of Kulottunga I is found on the west wall of the sabha-mandapa and it mentions a gift of 12 kalanju of gold for burning four perpetual lamps in the temple, by Ponnam-balakkuttan alias Kalingaraja of Manayil in Manayir kottam, a subdivision of Jayangondasola mandalam. We have already seen that this Chief (vel) of Manavil, Naralokavira, was a General of Kulottunga I in his later days as well as of Vikrama Chola and that he made extensive benefactions to many temples, particularly the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram. On the north wall of the central shrine is an inscription of the 12th year of Tribhuvana-chakravartin Kulottunga Choladeva (II) recording the royal grant of 60 velis of land free of taxes at Pappannallur in Vetungadu nadu to the temple of Tiruppulivanam Udaiya Mahadevar in Rajendrasola chaturvedimangalam, a subdivision of Kaliyur kottam, a district of Jayangondasola mandalam, on the representation of Minavan Muvendavelan. The record mentions that at the time of issuing the order, the king was seated under a pearl-canopy on his throne in the coronation hall of his palace at Vikrama-solapuram (ARE 198 of 1923). Another, belonging to his 4th year, found on the south wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine and beginning with the introduction ‘pu-mevi-valar’ records a gift of 24 kasus for burning a lamp, to the temple (called by the same name), by a resident of Vadavur in Vadavur nadu, a subdivision of Venkunrak-kottam (ARE 203 of 1923). On the same mandapa there is an inscription of the days of Rajadhiraja II recording a sale of land, and mention is made of another temple dedicated to Arulalisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar (ARE 204 of 1923). There is a 27th year inscription of the days of Kulottunga III which records only the name of the temple and is incomplete (ARE 206 of 1923). We have already referred to an inscription of his 37th year, wherein he is called Tribhuvana vira deva; it registers an agreement by the Great Assembly (Mahasabha) of Uttaramelur alias Rajendrasola chaturvedimangalam to conduct certain festivals as of old at the temple and for the burning of eight lamps on all the days of these festivals: what is of interest is that four of these lamp-endowments were revivals of endowments made almost four centuries earlier (in the 14th year of Rajamart-tandan alias Aparajita Vikramavarman); one, of the 18th year of Kannaradeva, the Rashtrakuta king; two, of the 13th year of Madiraikonda Parakesari (Parantaka 1); and one, of the 14th year of the current ruler himself. This is a remarkable instance of commitments of earlier reigns (even of other dynasties, friendly or otherwise) being honoured. There is an undated grantha record on the west wall of the sabha-mandapa, mentioning that this mandapa, ‘suitable for the dance of Vyaghratavinatha’, was constructed by Chediraja, a native of Adamangalam (ARE 205 of 1923). There is an inscription of the 7th year of Sakalalokachakravartin Raja-narayana Sambuvarayan recording an amicable settlement of some dispute between the residents of two villages regarding the flow of water from the tank at Tiruppulivanam and the grant of land as tirunamattukkani to the temple of Tiruppulivanamudaiya Nayanar (ARE 200 of 1923). There is another record of the same Chief, dated in his 6th year, regarding a gift of 8 cows for a lamp and offerings (ARE 213 of 1923). There are two records of the days of Vijaya Gandagopaladeva, the Telugu Choda Chief, dated in his 8th and 15th years respectively; the former mentions a gift of cows and a lamp-stand by a servant-girl of the temple named Pirainarusiradiyar, to the temple at Uttaramerur—which now takes on another name, viz., Gandagopala-chaturvedimangalam; in the 8th year of the king, she again gifted a gold necklace to the god and also a silver plate and a processional car to the temple, and in recognition of her meritorious services to the temple, she was granted, according to the 15th year record, the privilege of waving the chamara in front of the deity during the car processions, and this privilege was to become a hereditary right (ARE 211 and 210 of 1923). A similar gift of cows to the temple for maintaining two lamps is made by a servant-girl in the 16th year of Perunjin-gadevar. The place continues to be called Rajendrasola chaturvedimangalam.[1]

The main shrine consists of a srivimana, which is (partially) of the gajaprishtha type and is preceded by an antarala and a mandapa. The vimana superstructure alone is in gajaprishtha style, the structure below the prastara being rectangular. There is a circum-ambulatory passage with a with a sculpture of Ganesa in the south-west and of Subrahmanya in the south. The temple faces east and has a gopuram on the outermost prakara wall, which can be attributed to the 13th century; the superstructure of the gopuram has been renovated. In the outer prakara, in the south-eastern direction, there is a big hall (mandapa) which contains inscriptions of Vijaya Gandagopala and the Pandya king Maravarman Kulasekhara; it could be attributed to the 12th/13th century. In the northeast of the same prakara, there is a shrine consisting of a garbhagraha which is rectangular in shape with a sala -type vimana on top. It has a mandapa projecting in front.

On the walls of the garbhagriha and the antarala of the central shrine are figures of Ganesa and Dakshinamurti in the south, Vishnu in the west and Brahma and Durga in the north.

The adhishthana consists of the upana, jagati, tripatta-kumuda and prati mouldings. The kantha of the adkishthana depicts in the shape of miniature panels exploits of Siva. Some of the panel figures are: Siva being worshipped by devotees, Agastya, Indra, the elephant Airavata, Kamadhenu, Kannappa nayanar, Arjuna receiving the Pasupata-astra, and Chandesanugrahamurti. The antarala is preceded by a mahamandapa, which, reminds one of a similar, later, structure in Darasuram, the entrance to the mandapa being from the side.

The Dakshinamurti shrine inside the main temple is a later (Vijayanagara) structure.

The temple in the present form and structure belongs to the middle years of the reign of Kulottunga I and a noteworthy feature here is that the mandapa in front of the central shrine is on wheels. This temple is coeval with the Melakkadambur temple whose main shrine itself is on wheels, and is perhaps one of the earliest temples having the chariot-structure for one of its constituents. Mandapas on wheels are also found elsewhere such as at Chidambaram, Tukkachchi, Darasuram and Tribhuvanam.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Other records of this temple are: SII, VI, nos. 327, 393, 394, 396, 397, 389, 390, 201, 214, 202.

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