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....

Temples in Brahmadesam (South Arcot)

Brahmadesam is in the Villupuram taluk of the South Arcot district, close to Ennayiram, Esalam and Dadapuram, all centres of antiquity; it is not to be confused with Brahmadesam in Chey-yar taluk of the North Arcot district. In fact there is yet another Brahmadesam near Tiruvalisvaram, not far from Ambasamudram in the Tirunelveli district.

In ancient days, this place was a taniyur called Rajaraja-chaturvedimangalam. There are two temples in this place situated close to each other, viz., the Brahmesvara and the Patalisvara temples; they might have come into existence even in the days of Rajaraja I, along with the Ravikula-manikkesvaram and the Kundavai Vinnagar at Dadapuram and the earliest inscriptions found on the walls of the Brahmesvara (Pirames-varar) temple are from the thirty-first regnal year of Kulottunga I onwards (a.d. 1121) and the earliest in the case of the Patalisvara temple is dated in the fourth year of Vira Rajendra (a.d. 1067).

Brahmapurisvara temple

Here we are concerned with the former temple. It is about three kms from Nemur, which is on the nineteenth km-stone from Villupuram on the road to Ginjee. It is a venerable structure. The earliest inscription in this temple is that of Kulottunga I and related to a gift of 128 cows for burning four perpetual lamps. On the south wall, there is another inscription of the forty-first year of Kulottunga I (a.d. 1111—ARE 158 of 1918).

It is stated that the king was residing in the temple of Rajaraja Vinnagar Alvar who was his tutelary deity, along with his subordinate (maganar) Adavallan alias Kulottungasola Muvenda-velan, who was the Governor of this region, extending over portions of North Arcot, South Arcot and Ghingleput districts. The record mentions that the assembly of the great men of Rajaraja-chaturvedimangalam, a brahmadeya and taniyur in.... (Panai)yur nadu, a subdivision of Gangaikondasola valanadu purchased, in the name of Brahmapurisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar, some land in Panaiyur, a southern hamlet of the village. The reference to the Rajaraja Vinnagar Alvar as the tutelary deity of the king would dispel the doubts raised by some scholars that Kulottunga I was a persecutor of Vaishnavism.[1] In fact, the Cholas have been very catholic in their attitude to other religions. The inscription further says that the king performed devapratishthai (building of temples and consecration of deities) and jalapratish-thai (digging of tanks and channels for water supply) “to protect the good and punish the wicked”.

There are two inscriptions of Vikrama Ghola; one which is incomplete attests the king’s religious tolerance as in the case of Kulottunga I, and the other, found on the wall of the kitchen, mentions that the kitchen was built during his days and was named Vikrama Cholan (ARE 160 and 182 of 1928). (see A few later inscriptions)

The temple lies in the north-western corner of the village and there is an enormous lake to the north of it. The temple has two prakaras. The central shrine consists of the garbhagriha and the antarala with an ardhamandapa in front. The central bays of the three walls of the garbhagriha project forward and contain niches in which are housed Dakshinamurti in the south, Lingodbhavar in the west and Brahma in the north; on the flanks of the antarala walls, we have Ganapati in the south and Durga in the north. There is a circumambulatory passage with a pillared peristyle (tiruch-churru-maligai) running all along the wall of enclosure. On the eastern face of the ardhamandapa wall, there are two fine stone sculptures of Subrahmanyar and standing Ganapati, one on either side of the doorway leading from the prakara to the ardhamandapa, which is supported by four pillars in the middle. In front of the ardhamandapa, and, in alignment with it, is a mani-mandapa. Ahead of it is the bali-pitham. Further to the east is a multi-pillared mandapa covering the entire distance from the northern wall to the southern with the eastern wall forming the third side. The southern portion of this hall has been converted into the kitchen, named Vikrama Cholan. The outer wall and the gopuram in the east were built by Ammaiyappan Gandara Suriyan alias Sambuvarayan.

A few later inscriptions:

A few later inscriptions: An inscription of Kulottunga II (Anapaya) refers to the exemption from taxes in respect of devadana lands belonging to the Brahmesvaram Udaiya Mahadevar temple and the lands gifted to the Rajanarayana matham situated within that temple and these lands were clubbed together to form a new village called Kulottunga-Gholanallur (are 179, 180 and 181 of 1918).

There are seven inscriptions which can be ascribed to Kulottunga II. One of them refers to a gift of land in Nerkuppai, the northern hamlet of the city, for worship and the celebration of the processional festival of the deity. Mention is made of the construction of the second tiru-maligai (wall of enclosure with gopuram) by a chief called Ammaiyappan Gandarasuriyan alias Sambuvarayan in the eighteenth year of the king (are i83 of 1918). The same Chief is referred to in a second year inscription of Kulottunga III at Tiruvakkarai as the builder of the hundred pillared hall there (are 190 and 195 of 1904). In another inscription of the fourth year, there figures a royal officer who was a Sambuvarayan chief, called Ammaiyappan Pandinadukondan alias Rajaraja Sambuvarayan. He is said to have utilised the gold of two todus (ear-drops) for various services to the deity (are 167 of 1918).

Another gift of a lamp to this temple was made in the thirteenth year of Rajaraja (II). Another inscription of the same reign mentions a gift of 40 lamps to the two temples of Brahmesvaram and Patalisvaram.

That these two names apply to the same chief, of the Sengeni family, who participated in the Pandyan wars and won the title of Pandinadu kondan is confirmed by an inscription in En-nayiram (are 345 of 1917) relating to the 6th year of Virarajendra deva (Kulottunga III) which mentions that Ammaiyappan Pandinadu kondan Gandan Suriyan alias Rajaraja Sambuvarayan, also constructed a mandapa in front of the Alagiya Narasimha Perumal temple at En-nayiram.

There are two inscriptions of the later Pallava king Kopperunjinga (are 164 of 1918; are 170 of 1918).

The Pandya conquest of this region is evident from two inscriptions, one of Vikrama Pandya deva, which mentions a gift of land for worship and offerings at the sandhi called Kula-sekharan sandhi (are 174 of 1918) and another called Kodandaraman sandhi (fourteenth century a.d.?). In the latter half of the fifteenth century, a gift of land for worship and offerings is recorded in the days of the Vijayanagara ruler Saluva Narasinga Maharaja (Saka 1392=A.D. 1470) to both the local temples of Brahmesvaram and Patalisvaram. At the end of the fifteenth century or early sixteenth century, during the time of the son of Virapratapa Devaraya Maharaja, one Aram-valartta Nayanar, a member of the Kaikolar community, petitioned to Kanga-rayar and got the right to use the high pillow (dandu) and the couch as in vogue in Kanchi, Virinchipuram and Tiruvadi(gai)? thus eliminating some of the social disabilities they suffered from (are 162 of 1918).

Footnotes and references:


See Tribhuvani, Ch. 6, Note.

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