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 village of Tirumangalam is in Lalgudy taluk of Tiruchy district and is reached by turning left at the 15th km stone from Tiruchy on the Tiruchy-Chidambaram road. From the main road, the village is about 4 kms and is reached by a tortuous country road.

Samavedisvara (Parasuramisvara)

The main temple of the village is dedicated to Samavedisvara and the Amman is Loganayaki. The temple is a very old one dating back to the days of Rajaraja I or even Aditya I.

It is associated with Parasurama who according to local tradition worshipped the Lord of this place and obtained his axe (parasu); hence the deity is known in inscriptions as Para-suramisvara. One of the 63 saints, Aanaaya Nayanar of the Aayar kulam lived here and he was a great devotee of the Lord of of this place; he played devotional songs on the flute enchanting man and beast and even the Lord himself. Tradition has it that he attained beatitude even as he was playing on the flute. There is in the temple a rather late representation in stone of this Nayanar playing on the flute under a tree, reminiscent of the story of Krishna playing on the flute. A modern metal on this theme is now under worship in a small cella to the south of the entrance to the mandapa of the temple.

The earliest inscriptions found on the walls of this temple relate to the fifth year of the reign of Rajaraja I. On the south wall of the central shrine, there is a record of Rajarajakesarivar-man which mentions a gift of gold by a certain Karuvur Kandali, the headman (pattinamkilan) of Nagapattinam in Pattina kurram for a twilight lamp in the temple which is called that of Para-suramisvara Mahadevar (ARE 250 of 1929 - 30). The other one which is also of the same year but is fragmentary, mentions the temple of Parasuramisvarattu-Mahadevar at Tirumangalam. Below this record there is another in similar characters dated in the fifteenth year (the name of the king is lost referring to a certain Kalavan Nandisvaran Sankaranarayanan of the village (ARE 248 of 1929 - 30). In an inscription of the fifteenth year of Rajaraja I found on the same wall, a gift is made of land by purchase, made tax-free, to the temple of Parasuramesvara at Tiruman-galam which is described as a brahmadeya in Meegooru of Kilaar kurram, a sub-division of Vadagarai Mala nadu, by Parantakan Mahadevadigal alias Sembiyan Mahadeviyar, the mother of Uttama Chola for a perpetual lamp in the temple and for special sacred bath of the deity on certain specified days of the year (ARE 251 of 1929 - 30). There is an unfinished record of the thirtieth regnal year of Rajendra I found on the west wall of the central shrine, which registers an assignment of tax-free land by the assembly of Damodara-mangalam, a brahmadeya in Kalaar kurram, a sub-division of Rajasraya valanadu, to the temple of Parasuramisvaram Udaiya Paramesvara of Tirumangalam, for offerings to the god Chandrasekhara devar and for a twilight lamp in the temple in return for 20 kasus received by them. It also made provision for offerings to the God and Adavallar in the temple on certain specified days and for feeding devotees in the Paranjyoti matha on festival days by the uravar of Nagar in Kalaar kurram (there is a village by the name of Nagar even today about a kilometre from the village of Tirumangalam) (ARE 246 of 1929-30). An incomplete inscription of the days of Rajendra I records a gift of land to the temple by the assembly of Tirumangalam and it provided for the sacred bath of the deity for seven days from Revati in the month of Margali (ARE 249 of 1929-30). On the west and south walls of the central shrine there is a third year record of Rajakesarivarman Vira Rajendra mentioning that the servants of the temple of Parasura-misvaram Udaiya Alahadevar at Tirumangalam, a brahmadeyam in Kalaar kurram, a sub-division of Rajasrava valanadu, agreed to burn a perpetual lamp in the temple, in return for the cows received by them from a certain Sembiyan Mulaiyurnattu Muven-davelan of Karukkangudi (ARE 247 of 1929-30) There are a number of later inscriptions.

The temple is in a good state of preservation and the inscriptions and sculptures have not been ruined by the unholy hand of the modern renovator. It faces east. The garbhagriha measures a square of 5.85 ms to a side while the ardhamandapa projects 4.20 ms forward measuring 5.10 ms across. There is a mukhaman-dapa in front which also serves as the snapana mandapa, measuring 8.45 ms along the axis of the temple and 8.40 ms across. There are four finely carved pillars in the ardhamandapa while the mukha-mandapa has the support of four pillars of a different design.

The devakoshta figures require special attention. On the walls of the garbhagriha, there are the usual images of Brahma in the north and Dakshinamurti in the south; but in the rear (west) devakoshta, the image of Hariharar (Sankaranarayanar) is found, reminiscent of the temples of the days of Aditya I like Tiruverum-bur, Pachil Amalisvaram (Gopurapatti) and others; even in the koshtas of the ardhamandapa, the striking feature is the presence of a Bhikshatanar figure in the south koshta where usually the image of Ganapati is found. We have noticed elsewhere that this feature is peculiar to the temples of the period of Aditya I. Both at Tiruvamattur (Early Chola Temples, p. 222 ) and at Viralur [Early Chola Art Part I, p. 56 ), Bhikshatanar occupies positions which it does not occupy in later periods (Pls 91-99).

On these grounds it seems reasonable to infer that the temple was built in the days of Aditya I himself though epigraphs are found only from the fifth regnal year of Rajaraja I onwards.

Another interesting feature of this temple is the presence of a series of three groups of sculpture panels in miniature corresponding to each pilaster; one series is below the adhishthanam, in the upapitham; the second group is found between the varimanam and the vari and the third is over the vari, all the miniatures placed along the alignment of the pilasters on the walls of the garbhagriha and the ardhamandapa; there are as many as 84 of them though some of them in the south have been built into the floor. They depict scenes from the Puranas.

There are no separate shrines for the ashta-parivara devatas, but Subrahmanyar, Ganapati and Gajalakshmi (the latter is modern) are found in cellas in the rear portion of the tiruch-churru-maligai.

The temple is dvi-tala, the griva and the sikhara are octagonal.

There are some fine metallic images, particularly of Soma-skandar, Tani-Amman and Chandrasekharar. Nataraja, found in a separate shrine in the north-eastern part of the temple, is datable to Rajendra I’s days (the Adavallar referred to in ARE, 246 of 1929 - 30). Similarly the Chandrasekhara devar image (the Pradoshamurti) could be attributed to the same period.

Later Inscriptions:

The rest of the records belong to the Later Chola period. In an inscription on the north wall of the central shrine, relating to the 17th regnal year of Kulottunga I, mention is made of the assembly of Tirumangalam meeting in the temple of Tiruvaiyotti-yalvar in the village and transacting a sale of land to the temple (ARE 244 of 1929-30). In a 46th year inscription of the same ruler, there is a record referring to a sale of land made tax free to the temple of Parasuramesvaram Udaiya Mahadevar by the assembly of Tirumangalam which met in the temple of Tiruvaiyottiyalvar (Rama). Here Kalaar kurram becomes a part of Ulagamulududai valanadu (ARE 252 of 1929-30). Later in Vikrama Chola’s days the valanadu is renamed Tribhuvanamulududai valanadu and a gift of land by purchase is made to the temple as archanabhoga in the 14th year of this ruler (ARE 254 of 1929-30). In the days of Rajaraja II, certain residents of Tirumangalam in Kalaar kurram, said to be then in Ulagudai Mukkokkilanadi valanadu, sold a piece of land to the temple and also gifted another piece close by (ARE 243 of 1929-30). From an inscription dated in the sixth year of Rajadhiraja deva II, we get another name of the deity of the temple here; the Sivabrahmanas of the temple of Tiru-maluvudaiya Mahadevar received gold from a certain Atreyan Narayanan Yajna Bhattan and agreed to conduct some special worship on the new moon days (ARE 253 of 1929-30).

From the only record of Tribhuvanachakravartin Rajarajadeva who should be identified with Rajaraja III, we get to know that one Ambalattaduvan Siramadevan alias Kalingarayan of Chandralekhai in Eyil nadu, a subdivision of Tenkarai Pandikulasani valanadu made a gift of land for offerings to the image of the Goddess Ulagudaiya Nayaki set up by him in the temple of Tirumaluvudaiya Nayanar at Tirumangalam, a brahmadeyam in Kalaar kurram in Vada-garai Rajaraja valanadu. Thus the Amman shrine in the temple came into being by about the year 1238 A.D. In fact, even today, the Amman retains Her original name with only a minor variation, Loga Nayaki. The last record to be found in the temple relates to the Madhurai Nayaka days and is dated in Saha 1488 during the rule of Visvanatha Krishnappa Nayaka. The temple is now said to be located at Tiruvirundamangalam in Kalaar kurram, a division of Kilapalaru in Rajaraja valanadu and a remission of water cess (niraanikkam) on the lands belonging to the temple is made for the merit of the king (ARE 255 of 1929-30).

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