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....

Chelluru is a village in the Kakinada taluk of the East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. It is about 40 km. from the district headquarters of Rajahmundry in a south-westerly direction, approached through the village of the more famous ancient city of Draksharama is also approached through the same village, being in a south-easterly direction from there.

Vishnu temple

There are two temples in the village of Chelluru, one dedicated to Siva and the other to Vishnu; the latter is called that of Sri Gopalakrishnasvami.

In ancient days, it was in the heart of Vengirashtra. Some decades back, a copper plate grant consisting of five leaves (plates) was found in the possession of the ‘karnam’ (the village servant) of this village, which turned out to be a grant of Vira Chola made in his 21st year (a.d. 1 100). It throws much light on the Eastern Chalukyan rulers of Vengi (11. 26 to 46) tracing the descent of Vimaladitya (Kundavai’s husband) from Kubja Vishnuvardhana and then traces the links of the Later Eastern Chalukyas with the Tanjavur Suryavamsa Cholas (11. 47 to 78).

This grant conveys an order addressed by the Mahamandales-vara Vira Choda deva (1. 79) alias Vishnuvardhana (1. 78) to the inhabitants of Guddavati vishaya. It may be mentioned that during the reign of Kulottunga I, his sons were appointed Viceroys of the Vengi province by turns, and one of them, Vira Choda deva alias Vishnuvardhana IX acted as the Viceroy from Saka 1001 (a.d. 1079).

The copper plate grant further mentions that in his 21st regnal year (a.d. 1100), Vira Choda made a grant of a village (whose name is not very clear in the Copper Plate but is probably Kolaru) to a Vishnu temple at the agrahara at Chqlluru. According to the grant, this temple was founded by the king’s Senapati, Medamarya alias Gunarathabhashana, son of Potana of the Mudgala gotra, who had also excavated a tank in the same village, and founded two feeding houses (sattras) for indigents at Drak-sharama and Pithapuri, the old name for modern Pithapuram (vide Vira Choda Grant; SII, I, No. 39). Thus we have evidence of yet another temple built in the Vengi province of the Chola empire during Kulottunga I’s time.

Vira Choda Grant:

The relevant portion of the Vira Choda Grant says:


(Verse 13) - To these two (Kulottunga I and Madhurantaki) were born (seven) sons, who were as pure as the (seven) streams of the Ganga, who like the (seven) Adityas, had destroyed the darkness (of sin).


(Verse 21)—In the Saka year, which is reckoned by the moon, a pair of cyphers and the moon (i.e., 1001), while the Sun stood in the Lion (Leo), while the moon was waning on the 13th lunar day, which was a Thursday, while Vrischika (Scorpion) was the lagna and Sravana, the nakshatra (asterism), having been anointed to the kingdom of the whole earth, the sinless king, the illustrious Vira Choda, joyfully put on the crown of the world.


(Verse 33)—At holy Draksharama and at the sacred place of Pithapuri, this charitable one (Vira Choda) joyfully founded two sattras for brahmanas, in order that they might daily enjoy their meals (three) till the end of the kalpa.

(Verse 34)—On the north side of the lovely agrahara of good people, which is famed by the name of Chelluru, he whose mind is full of compassion caused to be constructed a large pond which is filled with sweet water.

(Verse 36) ~ On the west side of that village, this powerful, mighty and charitable chief of the Vaishnavas caused to be built a temple of Vishnu.

(Verse 37)—In this lofty (temple), which is as white as the rays of the moon, which is the abode of splendour (of Lakshmi) and which pleases the eye, the God himself, who sc the husband of Lakshmi, made his appearance, his conch and discus being distinctly visible.


The purpose of the grant was to record the gift of the village of Kolaru, for the purpose of meeting the expenses on the daily performance of charu, ball and puja and for the repairs of gaps and cracks and towards this end the lands of the village were exempt from all taxes making it the property of the temple.

The grant ends with the usual imprecations customary to all such grants and warns that any one who shall cause obstruction to this grant will become possessed of the five great sins. The last line of the grant mentions that the sasana was executed by the five ministers, the pancha-pradhanah.

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