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....

During the early years of his reign, Kulottunga I still went under the name of Rajendra Chola (II), carrying over his Vengi titles; it is during these years that the temple at Siddhalingamadam (Sirringur of the inscriptions) appears to have been rebuilt of stone.

This place is located in the Tirukkoyilur taluk of the South Arcot district, and lies about 8 km. to the southeast of Tirukkoyilur, the taluk headquarters.

Vyaghrapurisvara (Tiruppuli-bhagavar) temple

The Vyaghrapurisvara temple in this village seems to have been in existence at least from the days of Parantaka 1. There are, on the walls of this temple, three inscriptions of Parantaka I and three inscriptions of the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III. These inscriptions, however, seem to be copies of earlier inscriptions recording endowments made prior to the reconstruction of this temple. On the south wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine, there are two inscriptions, both of them being undated and both in Grantha script and Sanskrit language, which refer to the reconstruction of the temple. The first one records that the Minister of King Rajendra Chola named Sabhanarttaka, and surnamed Kalingaraja and Manavatara, the ruler of Manavil, built a stone temple for Siva at Siddhalinga. The composer of the Sanskrit verse was a certain Andapillai Bhattan (ARE 367 of 1909). The other refers to the king, during whose reign the inscription was engraved, as Jayadhara, and records that the ruler of Manavil, who bore the surnames of Manavatara and Narttaka (which is merely a contraction of Sabhanarttaka), built a vimana, a prakara surrounded by areca palms and a mandapa, at the agrahara called Siddhalinga, for the god Siva, ‘whose feet were worshipped by Sage Vyaghrapada’ (ARE 369 of 1909). We know that Jayadhara was one of the many surnames of Kulottunga I. In all the inscriptions, the deity is called Tiruppulippagavar, the Tamil equivalent of Vyaghrapadesvara. At the time of renovation, the lithic records which were engraved on the walls of the original temple appear to have been copied into books and after renovation re-engraved on the walls of the new structure, as in the case of the Tiruvallam temple in the North Arcot district, though it is not distinctly stated, as in the case of the latter, that this was so done under authority. (Another instance of inscriptions being ordered to be preserved, by copying them first into books (potlagangal) and then re-engraving them after repairs or renovation, is furnished by two records of Rajaraja I and Rajendra I at Tirumalavadi (ARE 92 and 91 of 1895), already referred to in my Middle Chola Temples, pp. 267-9). Consequently, on the walls of this temple, we find copies of inscriptions of: the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III (“Kannara deva who took Kachchi and Tanjai”) (ARE 370, 375 and 385 of 1909); an unidentified Parakesarivarman (ARE 374, 377, 384, 420, 421 and 422 of 1909); Madiraikonda Parakesarivarman (ARE 376, 387 and 390 of 1909); an unidentified Raja-Jcesarivarman (ARE 379 of 1909); and Rajakesarivarman Rajarajadeva I (ARE 392 of 1909).

The above (last mentioned) record of Rajaraja I is of his 28th year, and refers to a gift of gold for lamps and offerings to the image of (his favourite deity) Adavallar and of land situated near the tank called Rajarajap-pereri for offerings in the main shrine.

Coming to the inscriptions of the days of Kulottunga I, we have already noted the two undated ones referring to the reconstruction of the temple by a Manavil Chieftain. A tenth year record of his days refers to a gift of 64 cows for two lamps on behalf of one Sedirayan Malaiyan alias Rajendrasola Malaiyaman of Kiliyur on the southern bank of the Pennai, in Tirumunaippadi, a subdivision of Damar nadu, in Rajendrasola valanadu (ARE 419 of 1909). A 16th year inscription mentions a gift of land to the temple of Tiruppulippagavar of Sirringur, a brahmadeya in Kurukkai kurram, a subdivision of Maladu Jananatha valanadu (ARE 368 of 1909). In his 36th year, a gift is made for offerings to the minor deities in this temple by the wife of one Malaiyaman Nanur-ruvan Malaiyan alias Rajendrasola Chedirayan of Kiliyur in Tirumunaippadi (ARE 388 of 1909). The verandah round the central shrine is stated to have been the gift of one Villavar alias Megudat-tyagi (ARE 399 of 1909). Another gift of 32 cows (valued at 10 kasus) was made in his 49th regnal year for a lamp by a brahmana lady who had prayed for a son and was blessed with one (ARE 371 of 1909).

There are a number of inscriptions relating to the period of Vikrama Chola. In the third year, a gift of money is made for a lamp by Sadri, the daughter of Tillai-nayakan Devargandan Agamudaiyan Malaiyan alias Rajendrasola Chedirayan of Peringur in Peringur nadu, a subdivision of Tirumunaippadi in Gangaikondasola valanadu. The lady also presented a lamp-stand and three bell-metal vessels (ARE 378 of 1909). In the fourth year, a gift of land is made for offerings by Adavallan Vasudevan alias Mudikondasola Muvendavelan of Munnur alias Panditagoshti-chaturvedimangalam in Oyma nadu (ARE 383 of 1909). In the sixth year, a gift of land for offerings after purchase is made by the wife of a Malaiyaman Chief (ARE 409 of 1909). In the ninth year, a gift of land is made to the shrine of the Goddess built by Alavandal, the daughter of Malaiyaman Nanurruvan Malaiyan alias Rajendrasola Chedirayan of Kiliyur, and wife of Malaiyaman Raman Surriyan alias Rajendrasola Malaiyakularayan of the same place, for the merit of her mother, Nirait-tavanjeydal (ARE 401 of 1909). In the 13th year, a gift of gold is made by a native of Anattur-Siruvannainallur in Kilamur nadu, a subdivision of Tirumunaippadi, to the temple of Tiruppuli (-pagavar) at Sirringur (ARE 372 of 1909). In the 15th year, the same lady (Alavandal) who built the shrine gifted lands to the deity (ARE 409 of 1909). It mentions that the shrine was caused to be built by the mother, Nirait-tavanjeydal.

There are a few inscriptions relating to the days of Parakesari-varman Rajaraja (II). A record belonging to his seventh year mentions a gift of land made for the maintenance of flower-gardens. Another record belonging to his 19th regnal year deals with a gift of land made by Malaiyaman Attinathan Sokkapperumal alias Rajagambhira Chediyarayan of Kiliyur for offerings to the deity (ARE 409 and 411 of 1909).

There is an eighth year record of Tribhuvanachakravartin Rajaraja deva, who could be Rajaraja II or Rajaraja III, referring to a gift of money made by a brahmana woman for offerings to the shrine of Kshetrapala Pillaiyar, built by her in the temple (ARE 407 of 1909).

There are a number of post-Chola inscriptions also. From a 14th year inscription of Maravarman Tribhuvanachakravartin Vira Pandya deva, we gather that a merchant of Sirringur set up a shrine of Alajgiya Tiruchchirrambalam Udaiyar in the northern prakara and made a gift of land for offerings to this deity (ARE 393 of 1909).

From another record, dated in the sixth year of Vikrama Pandya devar, we get to know that a gift of land was made for offerings to the shrine of Adavallar in the temple of Tiruppulippagava Nayanar, by the merchant community (Nagarattar) of Tiruk-kovalur (near Marudur) alias Maduraikkuvaytta-perumal-puram (ARE 380 of 1909).

From this survey of the inscriptions found in the temple, the following essential points emerge:

The temple of Vyaghrapadesvara had been in existence even as early as the days of Parantaka I and had received attention from subjects of Parantaka I, Krishna III and Rajaraja I. An image of Adavallar (Nataraja) was set up during the days of Rajaraja I. By the 16th year of Kulottunga I, the central shrine, which was evidently then a brick structure, was replaced by a stone structure, and along with it a prakara and a mandapa came into being. The tiruchchurrumaligai was the contribution of an archer in the Chola army. In the ninth year of Vikrama Chola, we learn that the shrine of the Goddess had been built by the daughter of a Malaiyaman Chief named Rajendrasola Chediyarayan of Kiliyur. By the eighth year of Rajaraja II, a shrine for Kshetrapala had been set up in the temple. In the Pandyan period, a shrine for Alagiya Tiruchchirrambalam Udaiyar was set up in the northern prakara.

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