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....

Apart from Rajaraja I’S own contributions to temple-building activity in South India, those made by his elder sister Kundavai Alvar and his senior queen Danti Sakti Vitanki alias Loga Maha-devi to the growth of Dravidian art are of considerable significance.

The latter, i.e., the senior queen, apart from the numerous donations and grants that she made along with her royal consort, to the Rajarajesvaram temple at Tanjavur, also built temples on her own.

Vada (or Uttara) Kailasam

Among them is the temple of Vada Kailasam at Tiruvaiyaru on the banks of the Kaveri, about 16.09 kms (10 miles) from Tanjavur on the road to Kumbakonam. This temple is located on the northern side of the outer prakara of the Panchanadisvara temple at Tiruvaiyaru and must have been built between the twenty-first and the twenty-fourth year of Rajaraja I. It is named Loga Mahadevi Isvaram, after the queen (ARE 219 and 222 of 1894; SII, V, 521).

The first reference to the existence of Vada Kailasam is found in an inscription of the twenty-first year of Rajaraja I (a. d. 1006) on the south wall of this temple (SII, V, 517; ARE 218 of 1894), according to which the shepherd Aiyaran Valavan of the brahmadeya of Perumpuliyur received from the Tribhuvana Chandesvara-kanmis 192 sheep for supplying to the temple 27 uris (measure) of ghee for burning two perpetual lamps at the temple of Loga Mahadevi Isvaram.

Another gift was made in the same year, as seen from an inscription, on the base of the south wall of this temple, dated in the twenty-first year of Kovirajakesarivarumar alias Sri Raja-rajadevar (SII, V, 518; ARE 219 of 1894). It refers to the sale of land by the Tribhuvana Chandesvara-kanmis of Tiruvaiyaru in favour of the Mahadevar of Loga Mahadevi Isvaram which was built by Danti Sakti Vitanki alias Uloga Mahadeviyar. The land measured three velis, one mahani, J kani and odd, valued at 307 kalanjus and nine manjadis (the rate being 100 to a veli).

A year later, in the twenty-second year of Rajaraja I, there is yet another inscription relating to a similar gift of 96 sheep for the maintenance of a perpetual lamp for the Mahadevar of Ulogamahadevisvaram at the devadana village of Tiruvaiyaru by Vimayan Vambavai, daughter of Salukki Vimayan devi Vanjayan Perrappai, presumably a (SII, V, 516; ARE 217 of 1894).

An inscription of the twenty-fourth year of Rajaraja I, relating to extensive gifts of ornaments and vessels made by Loga Mahadeviyar alias Udaiyar Sri Rajaraja Devar Nambirattiyar Danti Sakti Vitanki to the Loga Mahadevi Isvara Devar (the deity of the central shrine), and to the Uloga Vidi Vitanka Devar (the processional deity), is of immense interest to students of South Indian art as it gives a complete and exhaustive description of jewellery of various types given to the deities mentioned above.

There is another interesting inscription, of the twenty-ninth year of Rajaraja I, found on the east wall of the mandapa of this temple, mentioning the gifts made by Sri Vishnuvardhana Mahadevar alias Vimaladitya Devar of Vengi Nadu, the Eastern Ghalukyan prince and viceroy under the Cholas who married Kundavai, the daughter of Rajaraja I. They comprise eight pots of silver (velli-kalasam), weighing 1,148 kalanjus, gifted to the Mahadevar of Ulogamahadevisvaram at the devadana village of Tiruvaiyaru (SII, V, 514; ARE 215 of 1894).

In the fourth year of Rajendra I there is a reference to a gift of land by way of tattarakkani to the architect, who built the Ulo-gamadevisvaram, by name Sakkadi Samudaiyan alias Sembiyan Madevipperuntattan, by Danti Sakti Vitanki, the nampirattiyar (queen) of Periya Devar (Rajaraja I). Tiruvaiyaru is described as a devadana village in Poygai nadu, in Rajendrasimha valanadu (SII, V, 515; ARE 216 of 1884).

While discussing this temple, it will be interesting to mention yet another inscription, belonging to the thirty-second year of Rajadhiraja I (a.d. 1018—1054) (SII, V, 520; ARE 221 of 1884). This is important as it gives a complete narration of all the wars and victories won by this Chola ruler, thus enabling us to get considerable knowledge of the contemporary political picture as also an idea of the extent of the empire. There is, for instance, a reference to the Chola victory over the three Pandyas (in confirmation of the Sivakasi Plates), viz-, Manabharana, Vira Pandya and Sundara Pandya. The main purpose of the inscription however is to list out the jewels and vessels granted as donations to Loga Mahadevi Isvaram Udaiyar of Tiruvaiyaru. Yet another interesting aspect of this inscription is that it engraves two earlier gifts, one belonging to the thirty-first year of Rajadhi-raja I and the other an even earlier gift, relating to the twenty-seventh year of Rajendra I, as a combined fresh record.

The temple faces east. It consists of the garbhagrika, the mandapa and the mukhamandapa with an antarala linking the latter two constituents. The garbhagrika is a square of side 3.35 ms (11 ft.) inside and 5.97 ms (19 ft.) outside, the wall thickness being 1.45 ms (¾ ft.) at the cardinal points and less by 0.15 ms (½ ft.) at others. The outer surface of the garbhagrika is in two levels, the central portion having a width 2.59 ms (8½ ft.) on each face, projecting .15 m (½ ft.) outwards from the rest of the surface in the two karna elements extending 1.68 ms (5½ ft.) in length on either side. The two side walls of the ardhamandapa are in continuation of the side walls of the garbhagriha; the inner width of the ardhamandapa is the same as that of the garbhagriha, viz., 3-35 ms (n ft.) while the inner length is twice the width, viz., 6.70 ms (22 ft.).

The intervening wall is 0.84 m (2¾ ft.) thick with an opening 0.91 m (3 ft.) wide connecting the two constituents. Externally the ardhamandapa projects 7.16 m (23½ ft.) towards the east and has a doorway of 1.06 ms (3½ ft.) width. Further east is the mukhamandapa, a square structure 5.94 ms (19½ ft.) side inside and 7.72 ms (25½ ft.) externally, the wall having a thickness of 0.69 m (2¼ ft.). The antarala between the ardhamandapa and the mukhamandapa is 1.06 ms (3½ ft.) in length.

There are five devakoshtas adorned with crowning toranas over the niches. The images of Brahma and Dakshinamurti (mutilated) are the only ones among the original sculptures of this period still found in the devakoshtas of the main shrine and are of excellent workmanship. The other devakoshta sculptures have disappeared. (Pis 35 and 36)

The temple is an eka-tala structure with a spherical stupi; there are two dvarapalas on either side of the entrance to the ardhamandapa.

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