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....

Emapperur is a village on the river Malattaru, a tributary that joins the Pennai river and is 24 kms south-west of Villupuram (reached via Arasur—see pp. 252-253 of my Early Chola Temples).

Vedapurisvara (Tiru-alandurai-udaiya-paramasvamin) temple

The main deity of the temple here is known by the name of Vedapurisvara, while the name referred to in the inscriptions is Tiru-Alanturai-Udaiya-Paramasvamin. Appar has referred to this temple, but has sung no exclusive hymn on it.

This temple consists of the central shrine of Vedapurisvara, a mandapa in front of it, a Ganesa shrine and a shrine for Amman. In addition there is the plinth of a subsidiary shrine, the walls and roof of which have collapsed.

The mandapa walls contain certain records relating to Madirai konda Parakesari and Kannaradeva; a portion of one of these records has been built into the ardhamandapa walls, with the inscribed surface inside the mandapa. But the central shrine contains a large number of records of the Middle Chola period, mostly of Rajaraja I.

The earliest record is one of Parantaka I in his thirty-fifth year (a.d. 942) and relates to a gift of land by a private citizen of Kudupanjirrur, made for raising a flower garden and supplying daily a garland of six spans in length to the deity (ARE 527 of 1921). Another record of his thirty-sixth year found on the south wall of the mandapa refers to a gift of gold by Korrulan Kamadi of Emapperur for a perpetual lamp. In this temple, there are two records dated in the twenty-third and twenty-seventh years of the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III (Kannaradeva), both relating to gifts; they are found on the south wall of the ardhaman-dapa; the latter mentions an officer of Emapperur by name Vanadarayan and relates to a.d. 967. There is a record of Pandi-yan talai konda kopparakesaripanmar, viz., Aditya II found on the jagatippadai of the adhishthanam (of the ardhamandapa), which now serves the purpose of a step leading to the mandapa from the courtyard.

The rest of the records are to be found on the main walls of the garbhagriha; the earliest record relates to the tenth year of Rajaraja I and refers to a gift of 192 sheep by Uttiramandiri Tangi Aruran of Manarrur in Vesalippadi for two perpetual lamps (ARE 522 of 1921). From a record of his fourteenth year, we get to know that Nandiputtan alias Sembiyan Muvendavelan, a chief of Panaippakkam made a gift of land for offerings and a lamp to the metallic images of Tribhuvana-sundarar (Tripuran-takar) and His Consort set up by the donor in the temple of Tiru-valandurai Alvar (ARE 523 of 1921). We do not know the fate of these metal images. In the same year, Paravai Nangai, the daughter of a servant of Rajaraja I, made a gift of 96 sheep for a perpetual lamp (ARE 520 of 1921). In his twenty-first year, a private individual of Paridipakkam made a gift of 96 sheep for a perpetual lamp. Paridipakkam is stated to be a suburb of Emapperur in Emapperur nadu, which was a sub-division of Tirumunaippadi alias Rajendrasimha valanadu (ARE 517 of 1921). In his twenty-fifth year, a private individual of Emapperur provided for the supply of four areca nuts, three times a day, to the god; and in the same year, the daughter of the servant of Rajaraja I referred to earlier made another gift for burning a lamp in the month of Karttigai every year.

There are two records of Rajaraja I relating to his twenty-seventh year, which deal with

(i) the sale by the residents of Nalur, a village in Emapperur nadu, of some lands free of tax to the temple trustees of Tiruvalandurai-Udaiya Paramasvamin of Emapperur, for certain offerings to the God thrice a day;

(ii) a gift for the supply of paddy at the rate of one kuruni a day to the priest, for the expenses connected with two festivals in the months of Chittirai and Margali and for offerings of lamps, oil, and flower-garlands on these occasions (ARE 513, 514 of 1921).

There is a record of the third regnal year of Rajendra Chola I (ARE 516 of 1921) referring to a gift of 96 sheep to the temple for a perpetual lamp. Round the base of the Ganesa shrine, there is a record of the thirteenth year, 207th day of a Konerinmai-kondan who is to be identified with Rajendra I, containing an order of Udaiyar Rajendra Chola devar “who was pleased to take Purvadesam and Gangai”, confiscating the lands of persons who had migrated without settling down in Tirumunaippadi nadu and granting them to those who settled down and cultivated them on payment of taxes and to those who reared areca palms on them.

The temple faces east; it is small and compact with an open court within a wall of enclosure; there is a gopuram, without a superstructure in the southern wall. The temple itself consists of the garbhagriha, the antarala and the ardhamandapa. From the open courtyard, the ardhamandapa is reached by a couple of steps flanked by sinuous low balustrades. The garbhagriha is a square of side 4.88 ms (15' 8½") externally; its wall is divided into three constituents, viz., the central bhadra and the flanking karnas; the former is 2.10 ms (6' 10½") while the latter measure 1.09 ms (3' 7") in width each. There is a small recess between these elements measuring .25 ms (10") by .28 ms (11"); the antarala projects 3.23 ms (10' 7") forward and measures 2.56 ms (8' 5") by 2.27 ms (7' 5½") internally. The adhishthanam measures 1.92 ms (6' 3½") while the wall and the measure 2.13 ms (7'), making a total of 4.05 ms (13' 3") from the base to the top of the prastara: The temple is an eka-tala structure. It has an octogonal sikhara and a stupi, both later renovations. The ardhamandapa measures externally 8.98 ms (27' 2½") by 6.40 ms (21') and 5.18 ms (17') by 4.34 ms (14' 3") internally. There are four supporting pillars of a later date inside the ardhamandapa.

There are five niche figures: Bhikshatanar is on the antarala wall in the south; over the niche is a makara-torana with a kudu inset, the figure therein being a fine one of Ganesa; in the south, the niche figure on the garbhagriha wall is Dakshinamurti, with Yoga Dakshinamurti in the makara-torana on top; in the rear (western) niche is a fine figure of Siva-Alingina-murti (with the bull-mount shown behind), the torana figure being Lingodbhavar; in the north koshta of the garbhagriha is Brahma with Gajasam-haramurti in the torana, and finally, in the north antarala koshta is Durga.

At the back of the main shrine are three structures; one of them in the south-west, is a subshrine for Ganapati, another, of which only the plinth is left, should have been the subshrine of Subrahmanyar (being directly west of the garbhagriha). The third one, in the north-west, presently houses the Amman, but should have originally housed Jyeshtha. The remaining members of the parivara alaya group must once have been there, but of the deities of these alayas, we have only Ganapati in his place; Subrahmanyar is kept in the Amman shrine, while Bhairavar is kept in the ardhamandapa;there is no trace of the other deities.

Chandesvara is in the original position, though the shrine has been renovated. The sculpture itself is old. The incomplete gopuram would appear to belong to the thirteenth century; it has a high adhishthanam with four pilasters similar to the ones we have on the garbhagriha walls, with flanking a deep high niche with a sala type of design over the niche.

The existence of the figure of Siva-Uma Alinginamurti in the rear devakoshta would seem to indicate that the temple came into existence even in the days of Aditya I. A parallel is to be found in the Vishamangalesvara temple of Tudaiyur, where we have an identical arrangement of Siva and Parvati in the alingana (embracing) pose in the rear devakoshta (see my Early Chola Temples, pp. 218-219, 290 and 308, and pl 12 in the Supplement).

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