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....

Polonnaruva, which lies between the 26th and 27th mile posts on the Habarana (Giritale) Batticaloa road, bore various names in the past such as Pulastipura, Pulainari and Vijayarajapura, and was renamed Jananathapura or Jananatha-mangalam in Nigarilisola mandalam after Rajaraja I’s conquest. In this new capital, many Buddhist and Jain temples already existed side by side. A number of Siva temples were added during the Chola rule (Bell’s Report on Epigraphy, 1909 - 10, p. 9). Very few of these, however, have survived. The most important among such survivors is a Siva temple designated “Siva Devale 2”.

1. Vanavan Madevi Isvaram:

There are three Chola inscriptions found in this temple. The earliest of them is a fragmentary record of Rajendra I found on the south wall of the temple (ARE 595 of 1912; SII, IV, 1389—this record is referred to in the Sri Lanka Literature as Inscription E). The remaining two records relate to the period of the short-lived Chola ruler Adhirajendra. One of them (ARE 596 of 1912; SII, IV, 1392—referred to as Inscriptions A, B and C in Sri Lanka Literature) refers to a gift of a perpetual lamp and a tar a lamp-stand to the temple of Vanavan Madevi Isvaram Udaiyar, the Lord of Jananathamangalam (the new name of Polonnaruva), the gift being placed under the protection of the Mahesvaras and other members of a local committee. The date of this inscription is missing but it would appear to relate to his third year; it begins with his historical introduction tingaler malarndu. The other inscription of Ko-Parakesarivarman Udaiyar Sri Adhirajendra devar is dated in his third year (ARE 594 of 1912; SII, IV, 1388). His accession was in A.D. 1067-68 and his highest regnal year was third; so this inscription could be ascribed to the early part of a.d. 1070. This mentions a gift of money (five kasus) for a perpetual lamp in the temple of Vanavan Madevi Isvaram udaiyar at Jananathamangalam: The name of a petty chief Cholap-palla-varaiyan of Sonadu is mentioned in this record.

Vanavan Mahadevi alias Tribhuvana Mahadevi was a queen of Rajaraja I’s and the mother of Rajendra I. It, therefore, appears reasonable to infer that the Siva temple, known by the name of Vanavan Madevi Isvaram, was built during the reign of Rajaraja I, possibly by his son Rajendra I, who was the father’s viceroy in the southern provinces of the empire.

There is an inscription of the third regnal year of Rajaraja I at Tiruvenkadu (Tanjavur district) which mentions a gift of a lamp to this temple by Udaiya Pirattiyar Tambiranadigal Vanavan Madeviyar alias Tribhuvana Mahadeviyar, the queen (nampirattiyar) of Rajaraja I and the mother () of

Rajendrasola devar (SII, V, 982: ARE, 117 of 1896). This confirms the association of this queen of Rajaraja I with the temple at Polonnaruva.

2. Pallikondar shrine:

On the south wall of this temple is another inscription (ARE 595-A of 1912; SII, IV, 1390; inscription D in Sri Lanka records), which refers to a shrine of Pallikondar within the temple of Vanavan Madevi Isvaram udaiyar (Vanavan Madevi Koyir-pallikondar). Another brief inscription also found on the south wall (ARE 595 -B of 1912; SI I, IV, 1391) mentions the consecration of the image of Alagiya Manavalar (Krishna) (alagiya manavalarai elundarulivittu)There are no Vishnu shrines either intact or in ruins within the premises of this temple (Siva Devale 2); but there do exist the ruins of a Vishnu temple of stone, about a third of a mile (0.54 km) to the west of this temple and within the city wall at its northern gate. Perhaps the two Vaishnavite images referred to above were housed in this Vishnu temple.

We have examples of a Pallikondar shrine in a Siva temple at other places too, as for instance in the Somanathesvara temple at Attur-Sendamangalam and in the Nelliyappar temple at Tirunelveli, both in Pandi Nadu.

Siva Devale (Devalaya) no. 2

Siva Devale no. 2 is situated in a vast compound measuring 29.26 ms (96') by 25.60 ms (84'). A wall of enclosure for the temple was built at a later date. The temple is a dvitala structure facing east, and consists of a garbhagriha and an only the basement of the latter survives. It is built of granite and sandstone. The adhishthanam has an octagonal kumudam. The central shrine has three projecting niches, one each in the centre of the three free sides. There is a cornice adorned with kudus in the first tala. The second tala contains the bhadra-sala in the centre and two karna-kutas at the comers; above it, we have the griva and an octagonal, curvilinear sikhara. There is no stupi at present. There is a nandi in front. The garbhagriha is 9.14 ms (30') square and the srivimana is 9.75 ms (31' 9") high measured from the courtyard floor (Pl 177).

The only surviving memorial of the rule over Sri Lanka of Rajaraja I and Rajendra I, this fine temple in Sri Lanka, simple but grand in design, still majestic in its bearing and built on the best traditions of the sthapatis of the mother country, is a symbol of the artistic and cultural influence exercised by the Imperial Cholas in the conquered provinces.

Siva Devale No. 5:

Adjoining Siva Devale No. 2 are some inscribed pillars containing the names of individuals who were evidently the donors of the respective pillars for a temple that is now no longer there. The donors were apparently prominent men from the mainland, their names being associated with sacred centres like Chidambaram and Tiruvaiyaru.

We know nothing more of this temple.

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