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....

Chapter III - Vikrama Chola (a.d. 1118-1135)

Vikrama Chola ascended the throne as co-ruler in a.d. 1118 and counted his regnal years from that date even though his father Kulottunga I continued to live for at least two (or, according to some recent reckoning, seven) more years after that date. His asterism was Uttirattadi in the month of Ani. His prasastis take two forms, a shorter form commencing with pu-madu (or -magal) punara, and the other (longer) with pu madu midaindu; it is from the modified later form of his longer prasasti that we come to know of his benefactions and temple-building activities in Chidambaram and we could date them as having taken place in or before his tenth regnal year (a.d. 1128).

He bore many titles, the most frequently used one being Tyagasamudram (the “ocean of generosity”) occurring both in his inscriptions and in the Vikrama solan ula. This also takes the variant form, Tyagavarakara; Akalankan (‘one without blemish’ or ‘spodess’) is also applied to Vikrama Chola, though mainly Kulottunga I bore this title (Ep. Ind., vi, pp. 227-30). Very often he assumed to himself the titles of his father even including the Rajakesari, though by Chola practice he was a Parakesarivarman.

Mukkokilan and Tyagapataka are among his better-known queens, the former being the chief, and on her death (a.d. 1126-27), the latter became the chief queen. Nampirattiyar Nariyan Madeviyar was perhaps a third queen.

The late 11th and again the first three quarters of the 12th century a.d. were prolific in quasi-historical literature. The court poet Ottak-kuttan who adorned the Chola court, during the reigns of the three emperors, Vikrama Chola, Kulottunga II (Anapaya) and Rajaraja II, wrote an ula on each of them; he also composed a parani (heroic poem) on the Kalinga war of Vikrama Chola. This work is unfortunately lost to us; but reference to this is found in the ulas on the latter two kings.

With the accession of Vikrama Chola in a.d. 1118, and his shifting his headquarters from Vengi, that province came under the administrative control of the Velanadu prince, Choda (son of Gonka I). The Western Chalukyan Vikramaditya VI took advantage of this absence of Vikrama Chola from Vengi and established suzerainfy over the Velanadu chief; but this was short-lived, and with the death of Vikramaditya VI in a.d. 1126, the region was brought back to the control of the Cholas. Similarly, Vikrama Chola re-established, to a large extent, Chola authority over Gangavadi, which had been lost to the Cholas during the closing days of Kulottunga I.

Vikrama Chola was a great devotee of Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram. In his 10th year (a.d. 1128), he diverted a substantial portion of the revenues of the state to meet the cost of extensive additions to the structures of the Chidambaram temple. Apart from the liberal grants made for worship and offerings to this family deity, he also bestowed considerable attention on the Vishnu (Ranganathasvamin) temple at Srirangam.

The Vikrama Cholan Ula mentions a large number of feudatories, who were closely associated with the peaceful administration of the empire. Among them are Karunakara Tondaiman (the conqueror of Kalinga), the General Solakon and the great General Naralokaviran (Kalingar-kon), who distinguished himself in the wars in Pandi nadu, Tondai nadu, Malai nadu and Vengi during Kulottunga I’s days and who served his master with loyalty, devotion and distinction. Naralokaviran’s son was also a prominent Chief in the days of Vikrama Chola, and bore the name of Surai Narayanan alias Madhavarayan, son of Arumbakkilan Ponnam-balakkutan alias Naralokaviran. The Sengeni Chiefs who bore the title of Sambuvaraya were prominent feudatories, whose descendants were to become quasi-independent ruling Chiefs in the Tondaimandalam region, as Chola authority waned in the 13th century.

The reign of Vikrama Chola was one of peace and tranquillity, of consolidation of the empire and of great activity in the field of temple-building, which mostly took the form of enlargement or expansion of existing temples. A few new temples also came into existence during this period. But his greatest contribution was in Chidambaram.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: