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....
Kayirur (now called Ayyur) Agaram is a village about 4 kms north-west of Villupuram town (South Arcot district), reached by a village track branching off from the Villupuram-Madras trunk road at the third km from Villupuram town. At the tenth km from this town on the same highway is the village of Chinta-mani Agaram, where there is a Later Chola temple, called Kulot-tunga-solisvaram.
Abhiramesvara (earlier Maha Sasta) temple
On the north wall of the Abhiramesvara temple at Ayyur Agaram here, there is an inscription of the fifteenth year of Rajaraja I; this is the earliest of the inscriptions found on the walls of this temple and it registers a sale of land to the god Kayirur Ayyan alias Maha Sasta by Narayana Kali Kramavittan, son of Krishna Kramavittan of Verpuram, one of the managing members of the assembly of Nripatongach-chayantangi-chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeya on the north bank of the river Pennai (Kaveri, mentioned in ARE 369 of 1922, is obviously a mistake). Another record of the same year found on the east, north and west walls of the temple registers a sale of land by the same person to a certain Kaliyiragan for burning a perpetual lamp. Again in the same year, a sale of 39 J kulis of land is made to Maha Sasta Kayirur Ayyan by a certain Naduvil Madhava Kramavittan, a managing member of the above assembly (ARE 374 of 1922). There are two records in the twentieth year of the king, one registering a gift of 96 sheep to the temple of Maha Sasta for a perpetual lamp by a shepherd of Sembaru in Emapperur nadu of Tirumunaippadi, a subdivision of Vadakarai Rajendrasimha valanadu, and the other registering a gift of land, by purchase, for offerings to the god by Somani Nagai Sani, wife of Yagna Kramavittan of Ettukkur (ARE 380 of 1922). A record of the twenty-first year mentions the sale of land to god Maha Sasta by the assembly of Tirunarayanach-cheri, under orders of the great assembly (ARE 377 of 1922). On the west wall of the temple is a twenty-second year record of Rajaraja I registering a resolution passed by the great assembly that met in the courtyard of Achchyutappiriya devar, setting apart a portion of the land belonging to Maha Sasta for burning a perpetual lamp (ARE 387 of 1922). In a sale of land registered in the twenty-fourth year, the deity is referred to as Maha Sasta alias Paramasvamigal and the names of two brothers Nimbai Narayana Bhattan and Damodara Kramavittan one of whom was a managing member of the assembly are mentioned (ARE 371 of 1922). In the twenty-eighth year, provision is made for feeding in the temple five brahmanas versed in the Vedas (ARE 378 of 1922).
There are three important inscriptions of Rajendra I dated in his fifth, ninth and eleventh years. The first concerns a gift of half a lamp by a certain person on the death of his wife; the next one registers the deliberations of the members of the great assembly regarding the occupancy of the land belonging to the temple by artisans and others, assigning in return several kinds of services to be rendered by them, like conducting worship in the temple, supplying oil for lamps and keeping watch over the temple. The third one is found on a beam in the temple, registering a grant of land for offerings and a perpetual lamp to Maha Sasta Kayirur Ayyanar by the great assembly of Nri-patonga-Sentangi-chaturvedimangalam alias Jananatha-chatur-vedimangalam, a brahmadeya of Jayangondasola mandalam who met in the Ayyanar temple (ARE 368 of 1922).
The village was earlier known as Nripatonga-Jayantangi-chaturvedimangalam, and in the days of Rajaraja I came to be known as Jananatha-chaturvedimangalam, after one of the surnames of Rajaraja I, and was located in Vadakarai Rajendra-simha valanadu in Jayangondasola mandalam.
This temple is evidently a foundation of the days of Rajaraja I and was in existence by the fourteenth year of his reign. It has no special architectual features. It has a sanctum, with an enclosed mandapa in front, both standing on a high adhishthanam. The central deity is still Sasta, though a replacement of the original Sasta sculpture (stone), which is now placed on a platform in the front mandapa. We do not know when and how the temple came to be called Abhiramesvara temple. Even as late as the time of Bhupati Udaiyar of the Vijayanagara days (ARE 388 of 1922) the temple continued to be called the Ayyanar temple. A Linga installed in the prakara perhaps justifies the Saiva name of Abhiramesvaram, now given to the temple.