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....

At the beginning of the eleventh century, when the Cholas reached the apogee of their power and authority, there was intimate cultural, religious and trade intercourse between the Cholas and the Sailendras who ruled over the Malay peninsula and parts of Indonesia. The Sailendra king Chulamanivarman embarked on the construction of a “surpassingly beautiful shrine for the Buddha” named after himself at the seaport of Nagapattinam.

Chulamani Vihara (Buddhist Temple)

This vihara, known as the “Chulamanivarman vihara” is described in the Larger Leyden Grant as of a loftiness that “belittled Kanakagiri (Mount Meru)”. The copper plate grant mentions that in the twenty-first year, ninety-second day of his reign (a.d. 1005), Rajaraja I gave to this vihara, which was completed by Chulamanivarman’s son “Maravijayottungavarman, born in the Sailendra family, Lord of Sri Vishaya (Sri Vijaya) and Kataha (Kadaram) who had the makara crest, at Nagapattinam in Pattinak-kurram included in the Kshatriya-sikha-mani valanadu”, the village of Anaimangalam, comprising in extent 97 and odd velis of land yielding an annual income of 8,943 and odd kalams of paddy. All the rights and privileges, and also various types of taxes due to the king were granted in perpetuity to the authorities of the palli as tax-free pallichchandam. This deed was finally drawn up and presented to the Sangha on the 163 rd day of his twenty-third year.

“When Rajaraja I attained divinity,” so says the record, “his son Madhurantaka (Rajendra I) ordered that the vihara with its endowment last as long as the earth endures.”

It was a four-sided tower of three storeys which remained for a long time as an important landmark on the coast of Naga-pattinam. The Jesuits got it demolished in a.d. 1867 after obtaining permission from the Madras Government (see the picture of the vihara in ruins as it appeared in a.d. 1846—page 243 of article no. 34, Epigraphia Indica, XXII, the Larger Leyden plates of Rajaraja I; Also Indian Antiquary, VII).

In the Smaller Leyden Grant issued in the twentieth regnal year of Kulottunga I (a.d. 1090), the Chulamani vihara gets the alternate name of Rajarajap-perumpalli, now said to be located at Solakulavalli-pattinam.

This grant mentions another palli here called Rajendrasolap-perumpalli. For the benefit of these two pallis, Kulottunga I gave the income of not only Anaimangalam but also eight other villages round about it.

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