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....

Tirukkaravasal, which in the ancient days was known as Tirukkarayil, is about 13 kms south of Tiruvarur on the road to Tirutturaippundi and is about five kms south-east of the railway station of Tirunattiyattankudi.

It is one of the seven Vitanka centres (Saptavitanka-kshetra)[1]. Indra and Muchukunda Chakravarti are said to have worshipped the Lord here. Hence the sacred tank to the north of the temple is called “Indra-tirtham”.

Kannayira-natha-svamin Temple

The temple at Tirukkarayil is among the many from which talip-pendir were deputed to the Rajarajesvaram temple at Tanjavur and we are aware that it was in existence even as early as the third regnal year of Rajaraja I. The temple was completely renovated by the Nagarattars of Chettinad in the recent past and the old features have been totally lost: the pillars of the earlier structure have found their way to a grove close by and a mutilated record of the third year of Rajakesari-varman Mummudi Choladeva (Rajaraja I), found in one of them, records a gift of land 35 ma in extent by the sabha for a lamp to the temple called here that of the Mahadevar of Tirukkarayil, a brahmadeya in Puliyur nadu (ARE 453 of 1908). A twenty-seventh year record of the same ruler found in another pillar in the same place records the construction of the olakka mandapam (ARE 453 of 1908). A third record found on another similar pillar is dated in the third regnal year of Rajendra I and it refers to a gift of land for a lamp and for offerings to the temple of Tirukkarayil Udaiyar (ARE 451 of 1908). On some of the detached stones lying in the same grove is an incomplete record of the twenty-eighth year of Rajaraja III, relating to a gift of land for feeding the persons who recited the Tirumurai in the Tirukkaikkotti of the temple. This gift is made by the residents of Muvur, a village in Puliyur nadu, a sub-division of Arumolideva valanadu.

The practice of reciting the Tirumurai in the tirukkaikkotti is corroborated by an inscription on the west wall of the first prakara of the Villinathasvamin temple at Tiruvilimilalai where from we learn that the Tirukkaikkotti there was constructed during the Pandyan days for the purpose of the recitation of the Tirumurai hymns (ARE 414 of 1908).

We are primarily concerned here with the exquisite bronzes in the temple ascribable to the time of Rajaraja I. Among them may be mentioned those of Somaskanda (100 and 80 eras) Bhikshatanar (93 ems) and the Katchikodutta Nayanar (Rishabhantikadevar) (100 ems) with Amman (80 ems) as also Nataraja and His Consort. They are all in the grand style of the ateliers of Rajaraja I’s days and deserve their place among the class metals of the period (Pis 76 to 80).

As regards the central shrine, which faces east, it is noteworthy that the icon in the western niche of the srivimana is Vishnu, the others being Dakshinamurti and Brahma. In the ardhamandapa, Durga occupies the northern niche.

Footnotes and references:


The others are Tiruvarur, Tirukkuvalai, Tiruvoymur, Vedaranyam, Nagappattinam and Nallur—also see Early Chola Temples, Tiruvarur, p. 194.

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