Middle Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1975 | 141,178 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Rajaraja I to Kulottunga I in the timeframe A.D. 985-1070. 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....

The Ardhamandapa and the Side Gateways

An ardhamandapa is in front of the garbhagriha. It also served as the bathing hall of the deity, as is seen from the snapana platform (bathing dais) in the centre of the hall. The ardhamandapa is approached from the sides as well as the front; the side gateways are imposing. As the adhishthana of the temple is very high, the floor of the garbhagriha and of the ardhamandapa is almost about 6.1 ms from the floor level of the outer courtyard and these two gateways on the north and south walls of the ardhamandapa are approached by imposing flights of steps, one on each side. The steps are in two stages, the first flight being from the courtyard level to the top of the upapitham; there is a small landing there, followed by the second flight of steps reaching up to the threshold of the gateway. Massive sinuous and ornamental balustrades flank these flights. Both these gateways are flanked by huge imposing dvarapalas carved in the true Rajaraja style. Over the lintel of the southern gate is a brief inscription which reads: “Svasti sri Vikrama solan tiru-vasal”—the sacred gate of Vikrama Chola, which was a surname of Rajendra I.[1] We will do well to remember here that Rajendra I had been a co-ruler for two years or more when the details of all grants and donations made to the temple were ordered by Rajaraja I (who was still alive) to be engraved on stone. One could presume the active participation of the son in this sacred and unprecedented building venture of the father and the association of his name with the temple. There is a reference to the existence of a gateway known as the Anukka tiru-vasal, which has not been identified so far. If one keeps in mind the close association of Rajendra I with Anukkiyar Paravai Nangai (of Tiruvarur and Panayavaram fame), one could reasonably presume that the northern gateway to the ardhamandapa (opposite the Vikrama solan tiru-vasal) was the Anukka tiru-vasal.[2]

Footnotes and references:


ARE 414 of 1924. This Vikrama Chola rcfcis not to the son of Kulottunga I, but to Rajendra I (also see verse 113 of the Tiruvalangadu Plates).


Since anukka means proximity, this gateway could also have been so named due to its closeness to the palace which lay to the north of the temple.

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