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....

Part I - Manavalap-perumal and Kopperunjinga

With the defeat of Nripatunga and the extinction of the Kanchi Pallavas in the 10th century a.d., one does not hear of the Kadavas (Pallavas) for more than two hundred years; during the reign of Rajaraja II, we noticed local feudatories rising to varying degrees of prominence, partly as a result of decentralisation of the authority of the Chola court. One such family of local Chieftains, calling themselves Pallavas or Kadavas and bearing the title of Kadavara-yans, make their appearance in the Vriddhachalam-Villupuram region (Pennai and Vellar basins corresponding roughly to Nadu nadu). We do not know their centre of power or their origin and how, if at all, they were related to the Early Pallavas of Kanchi. Two inscriptions in Tamil verse (one a copy of the other) found at Vriddhachalam and Tiruvennainallur mention five generations of this Pallava line which flourished in the 12th and the 13th centuries, from the time of the Chola king Rajaraja II to that of Kulottunga III, and enumerate their achievements. The third in this line claims the biruda of Elisai Mohan and is called “the conqueror of the four directions”. The fifth Chief of this line claims to have conquered Kudal and is called “Arasanarayanan Kudal Ala ppir andan” alias “Virasekhara Kadavarayan”. All his successors this biruda. (Kudal is perhaps to be identified with Tirthamalai in Puramalai nadu (in the modern Salem district); the deity of the temple there is called Kudal Alvar; Kudal might have been an important fortified centre ruled by a local Chief.) He might have lived in the early years of Kulottunga III (vide an 11th year inscription of Kulottunga III at Madam; ARE 255 of 1919).

The chief next in succession (the sixth) is, one described as Tondaimandalam konda Pallavandar alias Viraiviran Kadava-rayan. His inscription at Atti, in Tamil verse (ARE 296 of 1912), describes him as Tondaimandalam konda Pallavandar Kadavarayan, son of Kudal Alappirandan alias Kadavarayan. He is eulogised variously: as a matchless warrior, who won a great victory over his enemies in all directions; as one who brought the Tondai nadu under his control and spread his sway over the region watered by the Pennai; and as the Lord of Sri Vengadam and Kanchi. In the Munnur inscription, he is called Kudal Alappirandan Alagiya Pallavan alias Kadavarayan (ARE 62 of 1919). In a Sendamangalam inscription also, the same title is found (ARE 73-A of 1903). His Tiruvennai-nallur inscription (ARE 481 of 1921) describes him as Alagiya Pallavan alias Manavalap-perumal. He is known as Jiya Mahipati or Maharaja-simhan in the Tripurantakam inscription of Kopperunjingan (ARE 197 of 1903). He is also known as Kudal Alappirandan Alagiya Siyan, according to a Sendamangalam inscription.

The most important pf his inscriptions is at Sendamangalam in the Tindivanam taluk of the South Arcot district (ARE 73 of 1923; SII, VIII, 350). It was issued in the fifth ‘regnal year’ of Sri Sakalabhuvana chakravartigal Sri Manavalapperumal. It mentions that he chose this place for his capital, founded a city known by the name of Sendamangalam, and made it a fortified military station (padai vidu); and he also built a temple there whose deity was named after his surname, Valnilai Kandisvaram Udaiya Nayanar (valnilaikandan may mean a peerless swordsman, equivalent to Khadgamallan, a biruda applied to Kopperunjingan) and instituted a service called Elisiamohan sandhi; a grant of land was made for its observance and for the burning of ten lamps. This was a great step forward to political independence, which came to his successor Kopperunjingan in the days of Rajaraja III. His death and the consequent incompletion of the Alagiya Pallava vinnagar at Tiruvennainallur is referred to in an inscription in that place dated in the 33rd regnal year of Kulottunga III (= a.d. 1211) (Ayyan Manavalapperumal abhavattale...; ARE 486 of 1921). A grant of land was made two years later, in the 35th year of Kulottunga III, by the mother of Alagiya Pallavan Sri Kopperunjingan (ARE 487 of 1928).

These events must have happened between the 13th and 35th years of Kulottunga III (i.e., a.d. 1191-1213).

In the 14th regnal year of Rajaraja III, a subordinate of Pallava Kopperunjingan made a gift of a perpetual lamp to the Lord of Vriddhachalam. So the year a.d. 1230 seems to be the latest date of the nominal acknowledgment by these “Later Pallavas” of Chola overlordship (ARE 136 of 1900). Then Kopperunjingan took advantage of the weakness of the Chola kingdom and made serious efforts for its overthrow by his aggrandisement. He collected a powerful army and attacked Rajaraja III at Tellaru. This event is graphically described in the inscription at Vayalur (ARE 418 of 1922). The Chola king was defeated and he, his queen, and his ministers were taken[1] prisoner and kept in confinement in the capital of Sendamangalam. Soon, however, followed the anti-climax described in the 16th year inscription of Rajaraja III (a.d. 1231-32; ARE 142 of 1902) found at Tiruvendipuram in the South Arcot district. It mentions that the Hoysala king, Vira Narasimha devar, despatched troops on two routes to converge on Sendamangalam for the relief and rescue of the imprisoned Chola emperor. When he found the impending fall of Sendamangalam and his options closed, Kopperunjinga offered truce on promise of the release of the Chola emperor. Accordingly, Rajaraja III was set at liberty at Tiruvendipuram. Even after this setback to his rising career, Kopperunjinga continued to increase his military strength greatly and declared himself independent, crowned himself king in a.d. 1243, and ruled for 36 years, playing a leading role in the politics of South India as far north as Warangal and Draksharama. He defied Rajendra III, the successor of Rajaraja III, the Hoysalas and the Kakatiyas; and spread his influence as far as Tripurantakam and Draksharama (ARE 419 of 1893) in Andhra Pradesh, till his. death, at a battle with Ambadeva, the Kayastha chief ruling in the region of Nellore, Cuddapah and Kurnool districts, terminated his meteoric career.

Kopperunjinga was a powerful personality; he was a great soldier and general. He had many surnames: he was ‘Avani Narayanan’; he was ‘the Lord born to make Sen-Tamil flourish; he was ‘the master of Mallai (Mamallapuram = modern Maha-balipuram) and Puhar’ (Kavirippumpattinam); other surnames are: Mindan Siyan, Arasar Tambiran, Nripatungan, Avani-Alap-pirandan and Sokkachchiyan (vide ARE 418 of 1922); Bhumipati, Kripanamalla, Sarvajna Khadgamalla and Nissanka-malla (ARE 191 of 1904).

In spite of his preoccupation with the struggle for political supremacy, he gave attention to the welfare of his subjects; he excavated tanks and increased irrigation facilities for the promotion of the welfare of the people (ARE 191 of 1904, Tiruvak-karai; ARE 182 of 1919, Tribhuvani); he was a deeply religious man and made many gifts and endowments to temples for the conduct of worship. The Lord of Dance, Nataraja of Chidambaram, was his patron deity. He performed the ceremony and offered gold to decorate (gild) the east gopuram of the Nataraja temple; he gifted the entire income of the village of Attur for meeting the expenses of building the south gopuram, which is his creation. The western gopuram of the Vishnu temple at Tiruvendi-puram was constructed during his time for the merit of the king (ARE 146 of 1902). He was a patron of Tamil and Sanskrit and the fine arts, especially Bkarata Natyer, he was eulogised as the king who was born to encourage and enrich Sen Tamil and as Bharatam vallan. Sendamangalam, the creation of the line of the Kadavas of Kopperunjinga, has rich associations and has played a notable role in the history of South India.

Note: I reject the theory of the late V. Venkatasubba Ayyar of two Kopperunjingas (I and II) (see S.I.I., XII, and paras 1 and 2 of page XV—Ins. Nos 119, 120-125 and 128); and for an amplification of my view that there was only one powerful Later Pallava ruler of that name and that he ruled from a.d. 1243 to a.d. 1279, refer to my article in the Journal of the Madras University, Madras and my Tamil book ‘Kopperunjingan’ (Paari Nilayam, Madras).

Footnotes and references:


His horses, the inscription describes, quenched their thirst in the Kanni, Kaveri and the Ganga (rivers); his feudatories waited at his gate to pay him tribute. The Kannadan (the Hoysala king) suffered defeat at his hands. From this inscription, we also iearn-that he was a staunch devotee of the Lord of the (gilded) Ponnambalam (Nata-raja of Chidambaram).

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