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....

Sivapuram lies on the Madras-Bangalore road, branching off at the thirty-fourth km to the right in a westerly direction towards Perumbakkam and Kuvam (23 km). It is about seven kms from Kuvam in a northerly direction. The ancient name of this village was Urogadam[1].

Sri Rajarajesvaram Udaiya Mahadevar (Siva temple)

On the east wall of the Siva temple here, is an inscription dated in the eighth year of Rajendra I, which refers to a gift by the king of 180 sheep, for maintaining two perpetual lamps, in “the temple of Sri Rajarajesvaram Udaiya Mahadevar, in the village of Urogadam, in Purisai nadu, in Manayir kottam in Jayangondasola mandalam”.

This inscription reads as follows:

Suasti sri: tiru manni valara mapperu dandarkkonda kopparakesaripanmarana Sri Rajendra Sola devarkku yandu 8 - avadu jayangonda sola mandalattu manayir kottattu purisai nattu Urogadattu Sri Rajaraja Isvaramudaiya Mahadevarkku Udaiyar Sri Rajendra sola devar vaitta irandinal adu nurrenpadu.”

Thus this temple was evidently built in the days of Rajaraja I or begun in his time and completed well before the 8th year of his son Rajendra I.

There is a seventh year record of Rajendra I’s days found on the east wall of the central shrine, regarding the digging of a channel leading from a lake in Siraiyarpudur alias Parantakach-cheri, to the temple by the Urar of Kuvam alias Madhuranta-kanallur (ARE 233 of 1961 - 62). This is the earliest record found in this temple.

The mahasabha of Solavichchadira-saruppedi-mangalam in Kanrur nadu sold a piece of land for 10 Rajarajan kasus to Adidasa Chandesvara of Sri Rajarajesvaram in Urogadam, the proceeds from which were to be used by the tiruvunnaligai udaiyar to feed one Sivayogi at the time of making offerings to the god (twenty-sixth year of Rajendra I—ARE 226 of 1961 - 62).

There are a number of inscriptions of Rajendra I, all relating to his twenty-sixth regnal year (ARE 227 to 232 of 1961 - 62). Some interesting details are gleaned from these records relating to the arrangement made for providing for the services in the temple. The gold deposited with them at different times for services and offerings to the deity were invested by the temple authorities with various mahasabhas and the urar of Nirvelur in Nirvelur naduinUrrukkattuk-kottam. All these local bodies which received the gold agreed to supply to the granary of the temple annually a specified quantity of paddy in terms of the measure called Rajakesari, as interest on the gold.

From a record of Rajadhiraja I dated in his twenty-seventh regnal year (a.d. 1044-45), we get to know of the various categories of temple servants. According to this inscription, a large quantity of paddy received as kanikadan from Tiruppuniyettam, a devadana village attached to Sri Rajarajesvaram in Sivapuram, was ear-marked for food offerings and for distribution among the various servants of the temple, who were as follows:

  1. the persons engaged in the worship;
  2. the tiruvmnaligai-udaiyar;
  3. six manigal;
  4. 24 Patiyilar;
  5. the panchacharyar
  6. twenty uvachchar including the Patayyan
  7. the musicians playing on the vim and the udukkai;
  8. the reciter of Tiruppadiyam
  9. the tiruvaykkelvi-udaiyan;
  10. twenty-two chauri bearers (kavari-pinakkal);
  11. four persons who prepared the pallit-tongal (umbrellas);
  12. the accountant;
  13. the treasurer;
  14. four bodyguards;
  15. four garland-makers;
  16. four lamp-bearers,
  17. four standard-bearers.

One cannot help noticing the similarity of this set-up to the elaborate arrangements made by the ruler’s grand-father Rajaraja I in the Tanjavur temple.

The temple is a compact all-stone structure which consists of the garbhagriha, the antarala, the ardhamandapa and the mukha-mandapa. The garbhagriha measures 3.60 ms square externally and 2.05 ms square internally. The srivimana rises on a low adhish-thanam consisting of an upanam, a tri-patta kumudam, a varimanam and a vari, while the wall surface is divided into three segments by four pilasters. The devakoshta images are Ganapati, Dakshina-murti, Lingodbhavar, Brahma (a later replacement) and Durga.

The superstructure starts with an entablature containing the bhutagana frieze below the cornice and a frieze above it. The temple is an eka-tala structure with a circular griva, and a sikhara all in stone, with stucco overlaid, which is mostly gone. The griva-koshtas have figures which are covered over with lichen and cannot be identified. Around the there are four very lively nandis in the four corners (Pis 130 to 136).

In the mukhamandapa, there are two dvarapalas adjoining the entrance to the ardhamandapa, both stately figures of Rajaraja I style. In addition, there are some fine loose sculptures, kept inside the mandapa, of Chandesvara, Surya and Bhairavar. They must once have occupied their respective positions in subshrines. The temple is in a bad state of repair and requires to be conserved.

The temple belongs to the days of Rajaraja I.

Footnotes and references:


This place should not be confused with another Sivapuram, five kms south-east of Kumba-konam in the Tanjavur district associated with the Nataraja bronze whisked away to U.S.A. and sold for about Rs 70 lakhs (Pi 407). The latter has been sung by the Tamil Saints.

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