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....

Achyutamangalam is a village in the Nannilam taluk of the Tanjavur district and is about 5 km. from Nannilam, and 2 km. east of Sri Vanchiyam. The temple of Somanathesvara here is associated with the famous religious leader Udaiyar Svamidevar' (from the Radha country).

Somanathesvara temple

The temple which faces east consists of the garbhagriha (5.00m. x 3.85m.), the antarala (2.60m. long), the snapana mandapa (which projects 4.10m. forward), the ardhamandapa (8.60m. x 8.10m.) and the mukhamandapa (8.60m. x 10.40m.). Nartana Ganapati and Durga occupy the antarala niches, and Dakshina-murti, Lingodbhavar and Brahma occupy the garbhagriha niches. There is an entrance to the snapana mandapa from the northern side. The ardha- and mukha - mandapas constitute a single block with common flanking walls, which have a number of niches, housing Dakshinamurti, Bhikshatanar, Kankalamurti, Ardhanari and Vishnu on the north wall from west to east; on the southern side are a window, Urdhva Tandava, a window, Kalasamharamurti and an empty niche. The temple is encompassed by two walls of enclosure. There are two subsidiary shrines: one for Subrah-manyar at the rear of the garbhagriha, and another for Chandi-kesvara at its usual place.

The garbhagriha rises over an upapitham 95 cm. high, and an adhishthanam, another 75 cm. high.

On the north wall of the Somanathesvara temple, there is an inscription, whose date is given in the Saka era, mentioning that one Srikantha Sambhu of the Sandilya gotra and the brother of a certain Gosvami Misra belonging to the Radha country, consecrated the deity Somanatha in this temple (ARE 402 of 1925), This date works out to a.d. 1182—83 (Saka 1104, Pushya) and corresponds to the fourth or the fifth regnal year of Kulot-tunga III. We may therefore conclude that this temple is a foundation of the fifth year of Kulottunga III (i.e., a.d. 1183).

We have a record of‘Kulottunga Choladeva who was pleased to take Madurai’, dated in his 11th year, on the front gopuram; so we may conclude that the entire temple came into existence at or about the same time, as one integrated complex (ARE 411 of 1925). From a 21st year record of Kulottunga III, we learn of the royal ratification of the remission of taxes on the houses erected in a street then recently formed in place of the old one which was sparsely inhabited and not wide enough for the procession of the god, to pass through (ARE 408 of 1925). The temple authorities also agreed to meet the expenses of repairs to their houses built in the new street, according to a 29th year record of the same king (ARE 407 of 1925). From a record of the fourth year of Rajaraja III we gather that a certain individual made a. gift of 13J velis of land in certain specified proportions, for the merit of his father Visaya-laya Muttaraiyan, for repairs to the temples of i) Somanatha devar and ii) Visvanatha devar of Somanathamangalam, and iii) Visvedhika-Vivikisvaram Udaiyar at Somanatha chaturvedi-mangalam. There is a 20th year record of Rajaraja III which refers to the redress made to the son of one Rajaraja peraraiyan, who had suffered punishment wrongly in consequence of a decision given in a dispute between the villagers of Somanathamangalam and Somanatha chaturvedimangalam on the one side and Sidakka-mangalam on the other.

We have another inscription on the north wall of the same temple, belonging to the fifth year (376th day) of ‘Tribhuvana-chakra-vartin Rajendradeva’, which registers the ulvari (order) given by the king for a piece of land granted as a tax-free devadana in Siva-padasekhara-mangalam in Panaiyur nadu, a subdivision of Kulot-tungasola valanadu, for opening a digging a tank and establishing a flower-garden in the temple of Somanatha-devar built by Udaiyar Svamidevar in the village (ARE 393 of 1925). There are two more records in continuation of the above inscription, which belong to the days of a Tribhuvana-chakra-vartin Konerinmaikondan but whose dates are not given; they could however be easily attributed to the same ruler, Rajendradeva. The first one (ARE 394 of 1925) records the royal order to grant the ulvari for the possession of the land mentioned above, from the sixth year of the king; the next one, built in in the middle and engraved in continuation of the last two records, deals with the provision made by Svamidevar for the supply of oil to die temple at Achyuta-mangalam alias Sivapadasekhara-mangalam, from the sixth year of the king, by raising taxes on each oil-mill in the tirumadai-vilagam newly formed round the temple (ARE 395 of 1925), There are two records of Tribhuvana-chakravartin Virarajendra’ dated in the seventh year, 41 st day and seventh year, 49th day respectively (ARE 403 and 400 of 1925), one of which records, by order of the king, an exchange (talai-marru) of land at Achyutamangalam with some addition, for the 15 velis of devadana land in Kulottunga-nallur belonging to the Somanathar temple. It makes reference to the fifth and the 1 1th years of Kulottunga Chola deva and mentions the sons of Udaiyar Svamidevar. The second inscription registers the ulvari for the inclusion of the devadana lands belonging to the main temple as well as to the God Srikanthisvaram Udaiyar—evidently a deity (with possibly also a shrine for it) named after the builder of the main temple—in the same temple, with the five velis of land at Somanathamangalam, originally endowed for the formation of the several adjuncts of the temple, probably those mentioned in ARE 393 of 1925. The remaining records are not of any great significance, as they relate to routine gifts to the temple, some by Kulottunga III, and others by the Vijayanagara ruler Vira Bokkanna Udaiyar dated in Saka 1326 (a.d. 1404), from which incidentally we learn that one Annamalaiyar Kalingat-taraiyar set up certain images in the temple, in recognition of which the authorities of the temple granted him certain privileges in the temple.

A word may be mentioned about the identity of ‘Tribhuvana-chakravartin Rajendra deva’ and ‘Virarajendra deva.’ The name of Svamidevar from the Radha country is clearly associated with the construction of this temple and the consecration of the deity; we have seen from a record of Arpakkam (ARE 20 of 1899) that Edirilisola Sambuvarayan, father of Pillai Pallavaraiyan, the trusted officer and General of Rajadhiraja II, who fought the war with the Sri Lanka generals and ousted them from the Pandyan country, approached Svamidevar for the safety and success of the son in the war. We also know that among the various names which Kulottunga III went by were Vira Rajendra and Rajendra as well as Sola-kerala-deva. We may, therefore, assign these records of Rajendradeva and Virarajendra to Kulottunga III, which then yields for his fifth year the date of a.d. (1178 + 5 =) 1183 which is equivalent to Saka 1105 and this corresponds to the Saka date given in ARE 402 of 1925 for the construction of the temple and the consecration of the deity therein.

The entire temple of Somanathesvara at Achyutamangalam alias Sivapadasekharanallur[1] was constructed by the fifth year of Kulottunga III, after one of whose titles, presumably, this village was alternately named. (Pls. 308-9).

Footnotes and references:


We shall see in Sec. 13 (Ten-Tiruvajangadu) of this chapter that Kulottunga III possibly bore the title of Sivapada-sekhara (like Rajaraja I).

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