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....

Kalahasti is a railway station on the Southern Railway and is 24 km. to the north-east of the more well-known railway station of Renigunta (north of Madras Gity). The river Svamamukhi flows close by. When dealing with the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, we have mentioned that there are five sacred spots in South India, each housing a linga associated with one of the five elements (the pancha bhutas). Prithvi (Earth) is associated with the linga at Tiruvarur, Appu (water) with the linga at Tiruvanaikka, Teyu (Agni or fire) with linga of Tiruvannamalai, Vayu (wind) with the linga of Tiruk-kalahasti and Akasa (Ether) with the linga of Chidambaram. The name of Sri Kalahasti is said to be composed of the syllables Sri meaning spider, kalam meaning snake and hastin meaning elephant. These three are said to have worshipped the linga of this place. The place is also called Dakshina-kailasam.

The Tamil Saint Kannappa Nayanar, who is often represented in panels in the posture of pulling out his eye with an arrow to replace the bleeding eye of Siva (linga) which he presses tight with his foot to stem its bleeding, is said to have attained salvation here; and along with him the brahmana devotee Sivagochariyar, Nakkiradevar, Indra, Rama, Muchukunda and others were worshippers of this deity.

The Siva temple of Kalahastisvara is situated on a mound and faces west. North of the temple is the Durgambika hill, in the south Kannappar malai (hill), and to the east Kumarasvami hill.

The Vishnu temple (deity: Prasannavadana Perumal) is in the middle of the town.

There are a number of accounts of the greatness of this ancient centre, amongst which are Sri-Kalattip of the three brothers Karunap-prakasar, Siva-Prakasar and Velappa Desikar, Tiruk-kalatti-purana sung by Anandakuttar of Veerai nagar, and kalatti-ula sung by Seraikkavirayar (ARE 276 to 300 of 1904).

Kalahastisvara (Tiruk-kalatti Devar) temple

There are a large number of inscriptions of the days of the Middle Chola rulers on the walls of the central shrine in the Kalahastisvara temple. They belong mostly to the days of Rajaraja I and Rajendra I. In addition, there are a number of records found on die walls of the record-room, which belong to the Later Chola period.

There is a shrine dedicated to Mrtyunjayesvara in the campus of the main temple, and this would appear to be a Later Chola foundation. The earliest inscription found on the first prakara is of a Rajaraja deva, dated in his sixth year, which is in Grantha and Tamil,mentioning a certain Ghattideva-maharaja with a number of Sanskrit birudas (ARE 189 of 1903).

The present structure of the Sri-Kalahas.tisvara temple would appear to be a foundation of the days of the Middle Cholas, wf\th improvements and additions during the Later Chola period.

Manikanthesvara (Tiru-manik-kengai-udaiya Nayanar) temple

We are, however, concerned with another temple in this town, viz., the Manikanthesvara temple. On the east side of the base of the central shrine, there is an 18th year inscription of Tribhuvanachakravartin Virarajendra Chola deva, which records the building of the temple, the mandapa and a flight of steps (sopana), and the temple is called that of Tirumanikkengai-udaiya nayanar (ARE 197 of 1903). This inscription reads as follows. (Venkayya identifies this king as Kulottunga III):

HarihiOm: Svasti Sri:Tribhuvanachakravartigal Sri Virarajendra-soladevarkku yandu 18-avadu tirukkalattiyil Tirumanik-kengai-udaiya nayanar tirukkarraliyum tirumandapamum sopanamum Seyangonda-solamandalattu Kalatturkkottattu Valla nattup Perun-tandalattil Konu-lan Amudalvan Mangai nayakan Malavarayan seyvitta tiruppanikku Ivarittadu kondum Siyar tukkappattaa udal kondum seydadu
(SII, VIII, No. 496: ARE 197 of 1903).

However, there is an inscription of the 24th year of Rajaraja-kesarivarman (Rajaraja I, a.d. 1008), found inscribed on the north, east and south sides of the base of the central shrine in the Kalahastisvara temple, adverting to the endowment of a gift of gold, and referring to this temple of Manikkengai Madevar (ARE 298 of 1904). We have, therefore, to conclude that the temple existed even in the days of Rajaraja I and that the present stone building came into being in the days of Kulottunga III. The original name of the deity currently called Manikanthesvara was Tiru-manik-kengai Madevar or -udaiya Nayanar.

One Sasikula-Chalukki Tani-ninru-Venra Vira Narasinga deva alias Yadavaraya set up the image of Lord Mallikarjuna in the temple and made a gift to it in the eighth year of Rajaraja III (vide an inscription on the south side of the base of the shrine of the Goddess in the temple—ARE 200 of 1903).

There is also a Vishnu shrine in the temple, and on its walls is an inscription of Allun-Tirukkaladeva alias Gandagopala, making a gift of gold for a lamp to the temple of Tirumanik-kengai-udaiya Nayanar (ARE 201 of 1903). In the seventh year of Vijaya-Ganda-gopaladeva, Nallasittarasar, son of Bhimarasar of Tyagasamudra-pettai, makes a gift of land to the temple (ARE 202 of 1903). This record is found on the gopuram of the temple, left of the entrance.

Thus, the main shrine of this temple, which dates back to the days of Rajaraja I at least, was reconstructed in stone in the 18th year of Kulottunga III (a.d. 1196). (Pis. 310-12).

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