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....

Tiruvottur is a village in Cheyyar taluk of North Arcot district, lying about 30 km. southwest of Kanchipuram. Both the Palar and the Cheyyar rivers are close by, and the latter flows west of the Vedanathesvara temple here. It was a Jaina centre in the seventh century a.d. Sambandar is said to have wrought a miracle here by converting male palmyra trees into die female variety so as to yield fruit and thereby overawed and subdued the Jainas. Sambandar’s hymn on this temple is an expression of this triumph. In the last stanza of the hymn, the following line is significant: Kurumbai-aanpanai-yin-kuli-Ottur. ‘Ottu’ means the Vedas; and local legend has it that the Lord of this temple expounded the Vedas and their significance to the Devas and the sages. Hence the name of Ottur.

Vedanathesvara (Vedapurisvara) temple

This temple might have been an earlier foundation, but the existing inscriptions relate to the Middle and Later Chola periods. The earliest inscription here, found on the north wall of the first prakara, is one of the fourth year of Rajadhiraja I. It records the gift of a lamp (ARE 76 of 1900). An inscription of the second year of Vira Rajendradeva records the gift of ninety cows for maintaining three lamps. While on a hunting expedition, a person missed his aim and shot a man. So the local Assembly decided, in the sixth year of Kulottunga I, that the guilty man should make a gift of sixteen cows for a lamp in the temple in expiation of the sin (ARE 77 of 1900). An inscription, of the eleventh year of Kulottunga I, records a gift of land for a lamp. A great flood destroyed both the village and the crops and the villagers were unable to pay the taxes; so they sold two thousand kulis of wet land for twentyfivc kasus to one Adittan Uyyavandan. This amount was given to the pujari of the temple. This is recorded in an inscription of the sixth year of Vikrama Chola (ARE 87 of 1900). Incidentally the name of the measuring rod used in the land survey (perhaps of the sixteenth year of Kulottunga I) is mentioned (for similar references, vide ARE 125 of 1890 at Sirkali and ARE 84 of 1897 at Tirunagesvaram). An inscription of the eighth year of Vikrama Chola (ARE 85 of 1900) records the sale of 4,250 kulis of dry land by the same villagers for twenty kasus. The purchaser made it tax-free and gave it away to those who had to look after the prakaras of the Tiruvottur temple.

A record of the eighth year of Tribhuvanachakravartin Rajadhiraja II concerns a gift of 92 cows for a lamp (ARE 81 of 1900). There are two inscriptions of the days of Tribhuvana-chakravartin Tribhuvana Vira deva, i.e., Kulottunga III, of the 33rd and 39th years. The first records a gift of land by Sengeni Ammaiyappan Alagiyasolan alias Edirilisola Sambuvarayan (ARE 94 of 1900). The other, of the 39th year, records a gift of two gold ornaments.

The Chief who figures as the donor in the 33rd year inscription of Tribhuvana Vira deva makes a gift of the village in the sixteenth year of Rajaraja III (ARE 89 of 1900). In the latter’s twentieth year, a gift of land for a lamp is recorded (ARE 90 of 1900) and another for a flower-garden (ARE 91 of 1900). In his twentyfirst year, there is a gift of a lamp (ARE 84 of 1900).

A record of the second year of Rajendra III relates to a gift of ninety sheep for a lamp.

Chidambaresvara shrine

In this temple, there is another shrine called that of Chidambaresvara. There are five inscriptions on its walls. Two of them belong to the fourteenth year of an unspecified Parakesari-varman who may be Parantaka I (ARE 102 and 104 of 1900). Another is one of the 2 7th year of Kannaradeva, i.e., the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III (ARE 101 of 1900). There is also an inscription of the 21st year of Rajaraja I (ARE 103 of 1900).

There is, however, a foundation inscription (ARE 103 of 1900) without the mention of the name or the regnal year of the ruler. It simply records that the Sankaranarana Isvaragriham was built by Aditta Kuttiyar for the merit of his elder brother Sankaranaranar. A provision for a flower-garden was made by the sabha of Tiruvottur. This shrine has Early Chola inscriptions—earlier than those of the main shrine of Vedapurisvara. What is now called the Chidambaresvara shrine is the Sankaranarana Isvaragriham of the inscription. It should be an Early Chola foundation of the age of Parantaka I or Aditya I, assuming that the inscriptions are original.{GL_NOTE::}

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