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....

Ambasamudram is the headquarters of a taluk by the same name in the Tirunelveli district. It is on the Tamraparni and on its northern bank is the Erichcha Udaiyar temple. This temple consists of the central shrine which is called the Tiru-mulasthanasvamin shrine or the Tiruch-chalaitturai Mahadevar shrine. Nowadays however the deity of the central shrine is called Kasipanathar or Kasisvara, a name the deity acquired in the recent centuries. The entire temple was called in the olden times Tiruchchalaitturai koyil.

Erichcha Udaiyar temple (Tirumulasthanam Udaiyar)

Among the inscriptions found on the walls of the garbhagriha of the central shrine, there are at least four which belong to the period of Rajendra I, and at least five, to the period of the viceroyalty of Jatavarman Sundara Chola-Pandya deva. The earliest of these inscriptions are two, both dated in the eighth regnal year of Rajendra I (ARE 71 and 73 of 1907). We may, therefore, presume that this temple in its present form came into existence in the early years of Rajendra I, or perhaps even in the later days of Rajaraja I (ARE 70, 71, 73, 75, 76, 78 and 80? of 1907).

The main shrine consists of a garbhagriha, a snapana-mandapa and an ardhamandapa and is surrounded by a courtyard circumscribed by a tiruch-churru-maligai.

There are a number of smaller shrines in the temple campus. Two of them, both of about the same age, are located in the northern verandah, one dedicated to Siva and the other to Vishnu. These two shrines are perhaps the oldest shrines in the temple complex and date back at least to the days of the Pandyan king Varaguna Maharaja. The deity of the Siva shrine is now called Erichcha Udaiyar, though in the inscriptions it was known as Tiruppottudaiyar or Tiruppottudaiya Bhatarar at Ilangoyk-kudi, a brahmadeya in Mulli nadu. The application of the name of Erichcha Udaiyar to the entire temple as well as to the deity of the small shrine in the north prakara has been the cause of much confusion. The earliest inscription to be found on the walls of the Siva shrine is one in Vatteluttu which mentions ‘Vira Pandya who took the Chola head’ and refers to a gift of land (ARE 101 of 1907). On the south wall of the shrine, there is a Tamil record of the eighteenth year of Jatavarman Udaiyar Sundara Chola-Pandya deva relating to a gift of 60 sheep for a lamp and another of the eighteenth year of Rajaraja I refers to a gift of 25 sheep for a lamp to the deity who is called Tiruppottudaiya devar (ARE 99 and 98 of 1907). Thus the deity of this small shrine now called Erichcha Udaiyar was known in the past as Tiruppottudaiyar. This shrine is the oldest part of the temple and dates back at least to the days of the Pandyan king Varaguna Maharaja (a.d. 765 - 815). This is attested by an inscription found embedded in the floor of the north prakara of the temple (ARE 105 of 1907) relating to his sixteenth regnal year; Varaguna in the course of his wars with the Pallavas went as far north as Araisur on the banks of the Pennai river (in Tondai mandalam) from where (Araisur) he granted 290 kasus to the temple of Tiruppottudaiyar at Ilangoykkudi in Mulli nadu. The shrine evidently underwent renovation sometime during the reign of Rajaraja I.

Facing this shrine is the small cella of the Vishnu shrine, whose deity is called in the inscriptions Tiruchchalaitturai Ninralulina Emberuman of Ilangoykkudi, a in Mulli nadu.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: