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 V - Kulottunga II (a.d. 1133 to 1150)

Kulottunga II, the son and successor of Vikrama Chola, became the Crown Prince in a.d. 1133, and his regnal years are counted from then onwards. Vikrama Chola continued to rule fora period of two more years at least. The reign of Kulottunga II, like the latter half of his father’s and the entire period of his successor’s, was one marked by peace and a welcome freedom from wars. The extent of the kingdom was preserved as it was after Vikrama had re-established Chola suzerainty over the areas seized from the Cholas in the last few years of Kulottunga l’s reign; in fact, the restoration of Chola authority over Vengi was complete and effective, as attested by the Chelluru plates. The Western Chalukyas, who had temporarily eclipsed the Cholas in this region, are not heard of there. The Chola overlordship is attested by the prevalence of a large number of Chola inscriptions of this period in this region.

Kulottunga II continued to rule from the old capital of Gangai-kondasolapuram or Gangapuri. It is likely that he had a secondary and well-frequented capital at Chidambaram, otherwise called Tillai, which became a centre of considerable attention frojp the period of the Later Cholas. We have already seen the massive alterations and additions that Kulottunga I, his son Vikrama Chola, and their general and minister Naralokavira had made to the temple of Nataraja. It is likely that Kulottunga II celebrated a coronation in this city, as, in one inscription, he is described as the ‘king who wore the crown in such wise as to shed lustre on Tillainagar’ (ARE 155 of 1902). Apart from these two palaces, he would appear to have erected a new palace at Vikramasola-puram, a reference to which is contained in the inscriptions (ARE 271 and 533 of 1921) relating to his third regnal year.

From an inscription at Tirumalavadi, we come to know that he had two queens; the chief queen was called Tyagavalli, alternatively called Bhuvanamulududaiyal; the other was a Malaiya-man princess, by name Mukkokilan (ARE-85 of 1895). We are aware that the Kilur chiefs were wielding considerable authority in the region of the present-day South Arcot district and that they played a vital role in the political activities of this and the succeeding decades.

Kulottunga II was a great devotee of Nataraja of Chidambaram and was a staunch Saivite. In fact, he was the exception to the rule among the kings of the Vijayalaya House and later those of the Chola-Chalukya line, who were catholic in their attitude to religion, paying equal attention to Saivism, Vaishnavism and Jainism. But Kulottunga II was almost a bigot as exemplified by the closure of the worship of Govindaraja in the campus of the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram.

Kulottunga II bore many surnames; the most frequent name by which he went was Anapaya; this is borne out by the fact that a large number of old villages were renamed Anapaya-nallur and new villages created with that name; even his Secretary (tirumandira-olai) who conveyed the royal orders was named Anapaya Muvendavelan. In the inscriptions and in the Ula on Kulottunga II by Ottakkuttan, the Court poet, he is called Anapaya (ARE 271 of 1915; 533 of 1921; 346 of 1911; 531 of 1912). We have noted his intense devotion to Tillai Nataraja and the additions and improvements he made to that growing temple-complex; he covered the sacred Perambalam with gold and hence came to be called Pon-veynda-Perumal, ‘the king who gilded (the Nataraja temple)’ (ARE 157 of 1902); for the same reason he also bore the title of ‘Tirupperambalam pon meyndaruliya Rajakesarivarman’, as seen from inscriptions (ARE 349 and 315 of 1928-29) from Tiruppalaivanam (also see ARE Report of 1927). Among other tides, less frequently used, are Tirunirruch-cholan (a surname he shared with his grandfather Kulottunga I), Edirilisolan and Kalikadinda-solan.

His inscriptions display a large variety of introductions or prasastis. They are:

Pu mannu pavai ARE 53 of 1893,
Pu maruviya puvi elum ARE 85 of 1895,
Pu meya (mevi) malar ARE 422 of 1904,
Pu mannu padumam ARE 255 of 1929,
Pu mem tirumagal ARE 572 of 1907,
Pu mannu yanar ARE 83 of 1895 (also see ARE 1913, II, 35).

Ottakkuttan whose life spanned three generations of kings wrote an Via on Kulottunga II also, known as the Kulottunga-solan-ula. He was also the author of Pillait-tamil, a poem on this king, rich in diction and imagery.

Possibly due to the prevailing peace and prosperity in the land, the numerous chiefs and subordinates of the Chola emperor found time to make extensive gifts and contributions to templebuilding activities. Among them were the Kadavas. Prominent among them during Anapaya’s days was Mohan Alkolli alias Kulottungasola Kadavarayan. Towards the closing years of Kulottunga II, this chiefs powers had grown considerably and his authority spread over a wide area covering Vriddhachalam, Tirunamanallur, Tirumanikkuli and Tiruvadigai, whose temples were the recipients of his growing benefactions; in fact, he assumed the title of Alappirandan Elisai Mohan alias Kulottungasola Kadavar-Adittan, ‘the Sun among the Kadavas’.[1] It is from these humble beginnings that this branch line of the Pallavas grew gradually in strength, till the second quarter of the next (12th) century, when a scion of this line, Kopperunjingan (‘the Big Lion’), shook the very foundations of the Chola empire. We shall see in the next chapter the extensive benefactions of this ancestor of Kopperunjingan and contemporary of Kulottunga II.

Kulottunga II’s rule appears to have ended about a.d. 1150, giving him a reign of seventeen or eighteen years.

Footnotes and references:


See Kopperunjingan in Tamil by S.R. Balasubrahmanyam, Ch.3, p. 35 (Also ARE 46 of 1903).

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: