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....

Temples in Chintamani Agaram

Chintamani Agaram, in the Villupuram taluk of the South Arcot district, is now a small village about two km. to the east of the Villupuram-Madras trunk road, about 12 km. from Villupuram. There is a compact, well-preserved temple in this village locally known as Vaidisvara Koyil, or merely Isvara temple. Not far from it is another village by the name of Ayyur-Agaram, which is about 5 km. from Villupuram in a northerly direction. In the latter village is a famous temple built in Rajaraja I’s days and originally dedicated to Sasta but now to Siva, called the Abhiramesvara temple (see my Middle Chola Temples, pp. 141-4).

The village was known in ancient times by the name of Dina-chintamani-nallur, evidently named so after a queen of Kulottunga I. Kulottunga I, as Rajendra (II) of Vengi, had married Madhu-rantaki, a daughter of Rajendradeva (II) of the ‘Solar race’ (Chola dynasty). She is generally referred to as Bhuvanamuludu-daiyal, or Avani-mulududaiyal, ‘the mistress of the world’, and she also bore the surname of Dina-chintamani. She seems to have been the chief queen during the first thirty years of Kulottunga I’s rule, and on her death was succeeded by Tyagavalli.'The village of Chintamani was evidently a creation of the days of Kulottunga I.

Vaidyanathisvara temple (Kulottungasolisvaram)

The main deity of the temple in this village, now known as Isvara or Vaidisvara, was known in ancient days as Kulottunga-cholisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar of Sri Kailasa at Dina-chinta-mani-nallur, or for short, Cholisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar, according to two inscriptions of Parakesarivarman Chakravar-tin Vikrama Chola, engraved on the north wall of the temple, one dated in the sixth year and the other without a date. They begin with the usual introduction pu madu punara and the undated one records that the members of a regiment of the Chola army designated the “Four thousand of Minavanai Venkandah Vikrama-solanudaiya Velaikkarar[1]” of Dina-chintamani-nallur in Panaiyur nadu, a subdivision of Rajaraja valanadu, agreed among themselves to set apart the taxes called kalalam, korkuli and angadi-pattam, levied from their village, for the purpose of conducting festivals of the god Cholisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar (ARE 389 of 1922). The sixth year inscription is unfinished but we get to know from it that some gift was made by a person from Okurppalli in Tirumunaippadi nadu, a subdivision of Rajaraja valanadu, to the god Kulottunga-Cholisvaram-Udaiya Mahadevar of Sri Kailasa at Dina-chintamani-nallur.

Thus we learn from these two inscriptions that (i) the temple was built before the sixth year of Vikrama Chola and was named after Kulottunga I, (ii) the modern village called Chintafoani Agaram was named Dina-chintamani-nallur, located in Panaiyur nadu, which was a subdivision of Rajaraja valanadu, which during the days of Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I was known as Vadagarai Rajendrasimha valanadu and (iii) Dina-chintamani-nallur was a part of Nripatunga Jayatangi-chaturvedimangalam. We also get the name of one of the regiments of the days of Vikrama Chola which must have been part of the royal crack-troopers, the term Velaikkarar being applied to those who were at the beck and call of the emperor in any crisis, and often entrusted with the protection and proper administration of temples and their properties.

From the inscriptions found in the Sasta temple at Ayyan-kovilpattu and the Valisvara temple at Pundottam in the Villupuram taluk of the South Arcot district (ARE 32 to 38 of 1947-48), we learn that these two temples were located in, and these two villages were a part of, a bigger village called Nripatunga-Jayatangi-chaturvedimangalam, which was a brahmadeya with the usual adjuncts of the Sabha and the governing body called the alunganattar. These two villages are close to the modern town of Villupuram, the taluk headquarters, and so are Ayyur-Agaram and Chintamani-Agaram. Evidently, this extensive jurisdiction of Nripatunga-Jayatangi-chaturvedimangalam which embraced all these four villages, was an important centre in the late Pallava and the Chola periods and probably took its name from an important local Chief, he deriving his name in turn from Nripatunga, the well-known Pallava ruler of the 9th century a.d., unless of course it took its name from Nripatunga himself.

Incidentally, we get to know from the inscriptions of Rajaraja I dated in his 20th and 22nd years that the Abhiramesvara temple was indeed a temple for Ayyanar (Sasta) and it might have been erected during the days of Rajaraja I (ARE 36 and 37 of1947-48).

The Isvara temple of Chintamani Agaram faces east and consists of a garbhagriha 4.60 m. square, the sanctum being a smaller square 3.33 m. to a side, the walls at their thickest being 68 cm. The adhishthanam is 1.23 m. in height, consisting of an upanam, a jagati, a tripatta kumudam, a plain mrimanam and a vari mouldings. The ardhamandapa projects 5.22 m. forward and is supported by

four finely moulded pillars. There is no prakara round the temple and no trace of any madil or any gopuram. The garbhagrika and the ardhamandapa constitute a single architectural composition. The srivimana is eka-tala, the griva and sikhara being circular.

The main feature of the temple is the set of sculptures found in the niches on the southern and northern walls of the ardhamandapa. They are from east to west:

South wall
1. Bhikshatanar,
2. Ganapati,
3. Urdhva Tandavamurti.

North wall
1. Siva- Uma-Alinganamurti,
2. Durga,
3. Bhairavar.

Besides these, the sculptures in the niches of the garbhagriha are: Dakshinamurti in the southern niche, Lingodbhavar in the west, and Brahma in the north. The Dakshinamurti image is dislodged from the devakoshta and is now lying on the ground broken into two pieces.

The noteworthy feature of this temple is not merely the disposition of the devakoshta images, but the presence of Urdhva Tandavamurti, Siva Uma Alinganamurti and Bhairavar, which are peculiar to this temple. Alinganamurti as a niche figure is found in the rear niche of the Visha-mangalesvara temple at Tudaiyur (see my Early Ckola Temples, Illustrations, supplement), near Tiruvasi, in the Tiruchi district. Bhikshatanar is found in a few Early Chola temples as a devakoshta sculpture, but so far as my survey goes, this is one of two (or three) temples in all, with Urdhva Tandavamurti and Bhairavar as devakoshta images, though they are found installed in gopurams of the Later Chola period. The other temple, also of this period, is the Bhairavar temple at Solapuram (Section 27 of this Chapter).

Footnotes and references:


This means: “The Four Thousand of the crack-troopers of Vikrama Chola, who defeated the Pandya (Minavan)”.

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