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....

Tirukkannapuram, in the Nannilam taluk of the Tanjavur district, is on the south bank of the Mudikondan river and is reached from Nannilam railway station by proceeding 6 km. eastwards to Tiruppugalur and then 1.6 km. southwards, crossing the above riVer. In our Middle Chola Temples, we have dealt with the Uttarapa-tisvara temple at Tiruchchengattangudi, a village about 1.5 km. east of Tirukkannapuram, where inscriptional references are found to the Ramanandisvaram temple at the latter place, as well as with the latter temple itself briefly.

Ramanandisvaram (Ramanathisvaram) temple[1]

On the north wall of the mandapa in front of the Ganapatisvara shrine in the Uttarapatisvara temple mentioned above, there is an inscription of Kulottunga III, dated in his 11th year, 175th day, and mentioning that a document connected with the temple of ‘Tiruviramanandisvaram Udaiyar at Tirukkannapuram’, described as a brahmadeya village in Marugal nadu in Geyamanikka valanadu, was engraved on the walls of the former temple (ARE 65 of 1913). This inscription refers to the 5th and 10th years of ‘Periyadevar Kulottunga Chola deva’, in whose time the temple is stated to have come into existence. The Government Epigraphist comments that the phrase ‘Periyadevar’ should refer either to Kulottunga I or to Kulottunga II and observes that the ‘greater possibility’ is that the reference is to the former (ARE of 1923, p. 111). Now, there is an inscription in the Ramanandisvaram temple, of the 10th year of Kulottunga II (‘Tribhuvana chakra-vartin Konerinmaikondan Kulottunga Chola deva’), on the east wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine, recording a gift of land made for worship and offerings to the image of Udaiyar I^amanandisvaram Udaiyar, stated to have been reconsecrated in place: the inscription adds that the land, measuring 50 velis, was named after the donor, the king, as Sivapadasekhara mangalam (ARE 553 of 1922). Taking these two inscriptions together, we may agree with the Government Epigraphist that ‘Periyadevar’ refers to Kulottunga I and conclude that the temple suffered from neglect for some time and that the principal deity had to be reconsecrated in its original place in the days of Kulottunga II.

The temple appears to have fallen on evil days again, as revealed by an inscription on the west and south walls of the mandapa, relating to the 16th regnal year of Rajaraja III (ARE 537 of 1922 and p. 107 of this ARE). We learn that the Mahesvaras and Tanattar (Sthanikas) of the temple of‘Udaiyar Iramanandich-churam udaiya Mayanar, set up as a Pauraniya devar (?) at Tirukkannapuram’ approached the temple authorities of Perum-parrappuliyur (Chidambaram) and represented to them that, as the fifty velis of land granted as devadana to the temple had become reduced in extent, and other sources of income also diminished, the customary donations from the Mahesvaras of Chidambaram and others should be continued without any reduction, especially since there was no other means of income for the temple to fall back upon. On hearing this representation, the Assembly of Mahesvaras of Chidambaram resolved that in the districts within the influence of the temple as well as in surrounding and far-off lands, all servants of Siva temples should contribute 20 kasus per annum for the purpose, as before (Sola mandalam, Rajaraja Pandimandalam, Virasola mandalam, Naduvil nadu and Jayangonda sola mandalam are names mentioned in this context). Further, those ‘marked with the sacred trident’ should also pay 20 kasus per annum,'and the Mahesvaras and the brahmanas should pay 10 kasus. The collections made in coin or in kind (paddy) were to be paid into the temple treasury to be converted into a capital fund meant for. expenses of worship, offerings and various services. The Sthanikas and Vira Mahesvaras who acted as collecting agents were to receive one kalam of rice from temples owning more than ten velis of devadana land and one tuni and one padakku from the rest. The devakanmis and the accountants were to co-operate with the Mahesvaras in making these collections. An interesting instance of co-operative endeavour in helping out a temple in distress!

A Pandyan record of the 32nd year of a Srivallabha deva (ARE 535 of 1922) states that the central shrine of “Tiruvi-ramesvaram Udaiyar’ (note the re-emergence of the original name) was the gift of one Deyvanayakan. The central shrine, originally of the days of Kulottunga I, was thus renovated once in the days of Kulottunga II and apparently again a second time in the Pandyan days.

Thus this temple is a foundation of the days of Kulottunga I (prior to his fifth year); the mandapa was constructed of stone in the days of Kulottunga II.

Souriraja Perumal (Tirukkanmapurattu Alvar) temple

On the first prakara walls of this temple, there are a number of inscriptions of Kulottunga I and Vikrama Chola as well as of their successors. The earliest one (ARE 521 of 1922) is dated in the 34th year of Kulottunga I. Beginning with the introduction ‘pugal sulnda’, it registers a gift of a lamp, silver utensils and land for a twilight lamp by one Vira Keralan Adhirajarajadevar of Tiruppattur in Kongu nadu. Two years later, the same Chief and a Minister of Kulottunga I called Bharadvajan Naranarayanan alias Vira Santosha Brahmachakravarti made a gift of money and land for burning lamps thrice daily in the temple (ARE 519 of 1922). Mention is made of a liquid measure called the Kulottunga solan noli. This Chief was also a Minister of Kulottunga I and the inscription mentions that, while making the gift to the temple, he placed it under the protection of ‘the Srivaishnavas of the eighteen nadus’.[2]

In the 46th year of Kulottunga I, a gift is made of land at Kakkaimangalam which had been lying fallow since the 20th regnal year, at the instance of one Rajaraja Brahmadhiraja Govinda Pillai, for worship and offerings to the Lord of Tirukkannapuram in Geyamanikka valanadu at the time of the four ayanas (solstices and equinoxes) of the year and of certain festivals (ARE 501 of 1922). We learn from this record that the said Govinda Pillai was a principal officer in the kingdom like Arumbakkilan Ponnambalakkuttan alias Kalingarayan of Manavil.

There are two records of the tenth year of Vikrama Chola. According to one, a certain Kakku nayakan of Velur made a gift of tax-free land at Palli, a brahmadeya in Tiruvarur kurram, for growing red lotuses for use in the temple of Tirukkanna purattu Alvar (ARE 507 of 1922). According to the other, twenty families of weavers—four from each of five specified villages—migrated to this place for service in the temple in return for some privileges granted to them.[3]

In the 11th year of the same king, a brahmana of Tirumarugal made a gift of 20 kalanjus of gold of ‘9 | degrees of fineness’ mali) for the daily maintenance of a twilight lamp supplying ghee and camphor both morning and evening; he also presented for the purpose a bronze lamp-stand made in his own likeness. The gift was accepted on behalf of the temple by the Sri Vaishnavas of the village and those well-versed in sacred lore ilangu moliyalar) assembled in the Tiruniravi (mandapa) of the temple (ARE 509 of 1922). Another record of the same year, beginning with the introduction ‘pumalai midaindu’,mentions a sale of land by the trustees of the temple to a private citizen on condition that he should bring it under cultivation and utilize the produce for providing certain offerings in the temple after paying the land dues (ARE 502 of 1922). Also during Vikrama Chola’s days, a shrine for the Vaishnavite saint, Tirumangai Alyar, was set up in the west street of the town by one Narayana Padar, and a gift of land made as archana bhogam (ARE 510 of 1922).

There are a number of records relating to the last three kings of the Chola dynasty, of which one, of the days of Rajaraja III, is interesting. Of his 14th year (a.d. 1230), it mentions that land was leased to certain merchants in a street called Savirip Perumal perun teruvu, for the building of shops and houses, with the stipulation that they should pay certain taxes on their goods to the temple.[4]

The temple continued to be prosperous even in the post-Chola period.

While a foundation in stone of the days of Kulottunga I, like the Siva temple in the same place, this temple apparently did not, unlike the latter, suffer from neglect periodically.

Footnotes and references:


For a discussion of the correct name of this temple, see Middle Chola Temples, pp. 96-102.


A reference to this body is also made in a record (ARE 168 erf 1923) in the Sundara varada Perumal temple at Uttaramerur, where they are designated as the guardians of grants made to the temple. Their permission is sought by the temple authorities for receiving gifts and for entering into transactions of any kind with the donors regarding their management. This body would appear to have been a high-powered one, with jurisdiction over a number of Vaishnava temples spread over a delimited area of' the empire.


This record is of interest, throwing some light on the community of weavers referred to in it as Ayogavas. Quoting a Sanskrit verse, it defines Ulkrishta Ayogavas or Pattanavar as weavers supplying cloth to gods, kings and people and adds that an Ayogava was of mixed caste, born to a Sudra male and a Vaisya female. It states that in the presence of the mahasabha comprising 350 members ('elaimbadinmaf ), the merchants of five towns gave an undertaking to depute four weaver-families each to settle down permanently at Tirukkannapuram and serve the Vishnu temple in consideration for being exempted from all taxes. They were to supply cloth for the sacred banner of the temple and for other purposes during the Chittirai and Aippasi festivals each year and also to feed srivaisfmavas in a matha called Ayogana(va?) salai.


This inscription (ARE 503 of 1922) adds that the relevant order was issued at the time of the singing of the Satagopa (Nammalvar) hymns on the fifth day of the ‘marriage festival’, with the deity ceremonially seated on the asana called Nambi kaliyan in the Mravi mandapa under a pearl-canopy called Ravana-antakam. The leasing merchants were to engage themselves in the trades of gold and bell-metal fabrication, and they were to be allowed to fix themselves the rate of tax to the temple.


I regret that I could not study the paleography of the inscriptions on the spot to ascertain if they arc originals or copies.

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