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 Mattottam (Rajarajapuram)

As a part of his plan of extending the limits of his already vastly grown empire, Rajaraja I invaded Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and brought the entire island under his suzerainty and made it a province of the Chola empire, giving it the new appellation of Mummudi Chola valanadu or mandalam after one of his own surnames. Anuradhapura, the capital of Ilam (Sri Lanka), a city with a flourishing past of more than a thousand years, was sacked, and a new capital was established at Polonnaruva, a more centrally situated place and an ancient military station of the Sinhalese, otherwise called Kanavaru Nuvara (a camp city).


There is an inscribed (mutilated) slab preserved at the museum at Colombo which contains a reference to a temple whose deity is named Rajaraja-Isvarattu-Mahadevar at Mandottam alias Rajarajapuram in Mummadisola mandalam. This temple was evidently named after Rajaraja I and the place was also similarly named (ARE 616 of 1912; SII, IV, 1412). This inscription relates to a gift of land to this temple by one Tali Kumaran, a headman of Sirukurranallur in Velar nadu, a sub-division of Kshatri-yasikhamani valanadu, which was a province of Chola mandalam. This gift was given as an iraiyili devadanam for the midnight service and for celebrating the festival of Vaikasi Visakham.

Mandottam (or Mattottam) has been identified with Mantota, opposite the southern end of the island of Mannar, where there are some ancient remains including those of a celebrated temple dedicated to Tirukedisvara, a temple in Ila-nadu (Sri Lanka) sung by the Tamil saint Sambandar (seventh century a.d.).

On one face of a pillar preserved in the Colombo Museum, there is a mutilated inscription containing a fragment of the historical introduction of Rajendra Chola I (ARE 618 of 1912; SII, IV, 1414); on another face of the same pillar, there is a mutilated inscription which mentions a gift of four kasus for a twilight lamp (sandhi-vilakku) by a royal officer of Udaiyar Rajendra Chola deva I (perundanpani-magan) by name Sirukattur Udaiyar.. devam chandi...., to the temple here called that of Tiruviramisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar at Alandot-tam alias Rajarajapuram. There is a reference here to Rishabha-vahana devar, possibly an icon set up in the temple. Could this temple be the same as the Rajaraja Isvaram Udaiya Mahadevar shrine?

Though, unfortunately, we have no trace of this temple, the two inscriptions definitely establish the existence of at least one Chola temple at Alandottam during the reign of Rajaraja I.

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