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....

The reign of Kulottunga I marks a significant milestone in Chola art. In the outlying province of Kongu nadu, there came to be built by the local Adiyaman chief a temple dedicated to Nilakanthesvara at Koyarrur, now called Laddigam (in Chittoor district near Madanapalli), having a garbkagriha and an ardha-mandapa enclosed within a madil with a simple type gopuram with a griva and sikhara, marking a regional idiom of Kulottunga’s time. At Trisulam, an ancient centre in the Tondaimandalam region, the local idiom superposes itself on the evolving Chola style, producing a gajaprishta srivimana with the usual niche deities. At Melakkadambur, an entirely new concept of temple structure was put on the ground. The srivimana and the ardhamandapa together were fashioned into a complete chariot, drawn by horses. This new style of temple came to be known as the terk-koyil or Karak-koyil. And finally, Kulottunga I continued and refined the tradition of building temples in the style brought into vogue by Sembiyan Mahadevi, as structures with a garbhagriha and an antarala, false or real, followed by an ardhamandapa with three niches on each of its lateral faces. Excellent examples of this tradition and style are the temples of Isvara at Chintamani Agaram and of Bhairavar at Solapuram.

Thus, in Kulottunga I’s period, there are four different trends:

  1. a provincial style,
  2. the Tondaimandalam style or gaja-prishtha style,
  3. an altogether new style of temple in the shape of a chariot called the terkkoyil
  4. and finally, a further development of the Sembiyan style of temples in the heartland of the Cholas.

The features of all these types of temples must be taken into consideration when we enunciate the architectural and art style of the period of Kulottunga I.

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