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....

Sendamangalam village is on the 185th km. stone from Madras City on the Madras-Tiruchy trunk road. It is in the Tindivanam taluk of the South Arcot district. Tirunamanallur is only 4 km. north-north-east of this village and the river Gadilam flows about 3km.northofthisancientfortress. Mangalam, Vriddhachalam, Ela-vanasur, Tiruvennainallur and Tiruvadigai are all within distances of 20 to 25 km. It is located in a strategic place where the Chola and the Hoysala influences met and could be kept at bay.

Apatsahayesvara (Udaiyar valnilai-kandisvaram Udaiya Nayanar) temple

The entire fort and the two temples within are in an unspeakable state of ruin. The fortified city must have had an outer fortification spread over a km. square, of which only the north-western corner is discernible as a mound of earth and rubble, with a fine Ganesa figure dominating the crown. The inner fortification, also in total ruins, would measure about 100 metres by 60 metres. The remains of the grenels and arrow-holes are still visible in the comers of the wall.

Tiruk-kamak-kottamudaiya Periya Nachchiyar shrine

In this campus are the two shrines, one dedicated to Apatsahayesvara (current name) and the other to the Consort. The main temple is in alignment with the entrance to the inner fortification. The fort and the two shrines face east. In the north-eastern corner, immediately after entering the fort wall is a 100-pillared hall, in ruins, built in consonance with the tradition of the day to have multi-pillared halls in the temple campus for coronations, festivals and expounding the vedas and the pur anas. This hall faces south.

The main temple, built by Manavalapperumal and named (after one of his surnames) the temple of Yalnilaikandisvaram Udaiya Nayanar, faces east and consists of a square garbhagriha, an ardhamandapa, a mukhamandapa and a mahamandapa. From a brief epigraph engraved on the south wall of the mahamandapa, we learn that the mandapa was named “Ahankarakutta-rayan Tiru-mandapam”, presumably after a local noble and donor. None of the three niche-figures on the three wall-faces of the garbhagriha is in position, the niches being empty. Fortunately, the beautiful image of Lingodbhavar (with the boar and the hamsa) which (at some distant past) should have adorned the rear niche, is leaning on the balipitham east of the temple within the innermost wall of enclosure; the Dakshinamurti and Brahma figures have been taken into the ardhamandapa and kept there. As at Melakkadambur, a shrine for Dakshinamurti, housed in the southern niche of the garbhagriha, had been built as an integral part of the temple. On the base of this subsidiary shrine is inscribed the name (one of the many surnames) of the founder of the temple. It reads: Kudal Alappirandan Alagiya Pallavan Kadavarayan. Manavalap-perumal was also called Kudal Alappirandan Algiya Siyan (ARE 73-A of 1903, SII, VIII, 351).

There is a shrine for Chandikesvara, in its usual place. On the door-jamb of this shrine, there is a brief epigraph (ARE 81-A of 1903) which reads as follows:

Svasti Sri Rajakkanayan
Tirukkoyil Svasti Sri

We may conclude this shrine was a later addition made by the Pandyan ruler who was famous through his surname of Rajakkanayan.

The entire central complex of halls is surrounded by what once must have been a beautiful circumambulatory passage with a covered colonnaded platform and the wall of enclosure (the prakara and the tiruch-churru-maligai). Now only the western part of the wall and the platform remain. The entire piakara is covered with debris and fallen stones from the prakara wall. There is a well-covered balipitham in front of the entrance to the mukha-mandapa. It is strange that Kopperunjinga who raised such massive seven-storeyed gopurams at Chidambaram and Tiruvendipuram should have let his father's temple go without a grand gateway. If any once existed, these gopurams are no longer there. The stone gateway portion, again in ruins, without the tiers, however, is there at the entrance on the first wall of enclosure (in the east), and at the rear on the second wall of enclosure. (Local tradition goes that it was meant as the gateway to a Vishnu shrine which does not exist any more).

The srivimana is square in cross-section and eka-tala. In the first tier, there are kutas at the corners and salas in the middle. The griva and sikhara are circular in cross-section and rise over a high platform resting on the first tier. A close look at the srivimana of the Vaikuntha Perumal temple built about this time by the Later Pallava Chiefs at Tiruvennainallur brings out a close parallel with this srivimana. Basically eka-tala, the srivimanas give the impression of great height as the griva rests on a high platform. The garbhagriha has a simple basement (adhishthanam) consisting of the upanam, the tripattakumudam, a token kandam, the vari and the vanmanam. The garbhagriha walls are adorned with octagonal pilasters with wide palagais and padmam mouldings, tenoned, three-pronged corbels supporting the entablature consisting of the bhutagana frieze, a modest cornice and the vali frieze.

The Amman shrine facing east lies to the north of the Siva temple and is a modest structure with a garbhagriha, ardhamandapa and mukhamandapa. This shrine is also in utter ruins.

The crucial inscription of Manavalapperumal in this temple is found on the south base of the mandapa (ARE 73 of 1903; SII, VIII, no. 350) and reads as follows:

Svasti Sri: Sakalabhuvana-chakravartigal Sri Manavalapperumal Udaiyar(kku) yandu anjavadu Sendamangalattu Urom padai-vidu seydu udaiyar Vanilaikandisvaram udaiya Nayanaraiyum elundarulap-panni in-Nayanarkku nam kanda Elisai Mohan sandikkum....... Manalavapperumal eluttu”.

Thus epigraphical evidence is available to establish that this site of Sendamangalam was chosen for establishing a cantonment (padai-vidu) or military station, in which, within the fort, a temple dedicated to Lord Siva named “Vai(l)nilaikandisvaram Udaiya Nayanar” was also built by the king Sakalabhuvana-chakra-vartigal Manavalap-perumal udaiyar in the fifth year of his reign. Valnilai kandan and Elisai Mohan are among the surnames of Manavalap-perumal, the father of Maharajasimha (Ko-perum-Singan). In the 17th year of Kulottunga III (= a.d. 1195), we find a reference to Kudal Elisai Mohan Manavalap-perumal Vanilaikandar, alias Kadavarayan, who is referred to as a feudatory of the Chola emperor iARE 213 of 1902). We continue to get references to this Chief till the 28th and 29th regnal years of the Chola ruler; = a.d. 1206-07).

There are three inscriptions in the main temple belonging to Kopperunjingan (a.d. 1243-79). One, of the second regnal year (ARE 70 of 1903; SI I, VIII, 346), refers to a gift of 32 cows by one Arulalan alias Tyagavinodan of Jananatha chaturvedi-mangalam to Udaiyar Vanilaikandisvaram Udaiya Nayanar.

There is a ninth year inscription of Kopperunjingan (ARE 71 of 1903; SI I, VIII. 3481, which refers to a gift of 32 cows and a bull made to Udaiyar Valnilaikandisvaram Udaiyar by one Tirumalai Alagiyan Virakavira Pallavaraiyan, a kaikolar of Tiruvennainallur.

A third inscription, dated in the 17th regnal year of Kopperunjinga (ARE 69 of 1903; SII, VIII, 345), deals with a gift of 4000 kasus, out of whose interest two lamps were to be maintained by the Sivabrahmanas of the thirty vattams in the shrines of Vanilaikandisvaram Udaiya Nayanar and of the Tirukkamak-kottam-Udaiya Periya Nachchiyar!the Amman shrine). The gift was made by Tondaiman Udaiyar, the araiyar (i.e., Chief or Lord) of Pennagadam. This leads us to conclude that the Amman shrine must also have been built along with the main Siva temple.

The temple complex was enclosed in an inner fortification, and the city or cantonment, along with the royal palaces, would appear to have been enclosed by an outer wall of fortification. (Pls. 376-81).

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