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 Uttattur (Urrattur)

Uttattur, whose ancient name was Urrattur, is about 3.20 kms (2 miles) to the south-east of Padalur, which is 34 kms (21 miles) from Tiruchy on the Tiruchy-Madras trunk road. It has an Early Chola temple, whose deity is now called Siddharatnesvara, but was known in olden days by the name of Togumamani Nayanar; in spite of its antiquity, it is not one of those temples celebrated in song by the Nayanmars; Appar has, however, mentioned this temple in his Kshetrak Kovai (stanza 10) and Adaivut-tirut-tandagam as one of the celebrated Siva temples of his time.

Siddharatnesvara (Togumamani Nayanar) temple

The temple comprises the main shrine locally called Andavar temple, a yaga-mandapa, a hall known as the Uttamasolan and two gopuras. To the north of the main shrine is the Amman shrine dedicated to Akhilandesvari.

The presiding deity has undergone considerable changes in its name: starting off as the Mahadevar of Urrattur in the days of Rajaraja I and Rajendra I, it is called Urrattur Peruman-adigal in the days of Rajadhiraja I; Togumamani Andar, in the days of the Later Choi as beginning with Vikrama Ghola; Togumamani Nayakar or Nayanar in the days of Rajadhiraja II and for over two centuries thereafter; and finally, Tuyya Mamani Nayanar in the days of Achyuta Raya of the Vijayanagara rulers.

The temple abounds in inscriptions. On the west side of the base of the yaga-mandapa, there is an incomplete record of the 24th year of Rajaraja I: all that we can gather from it is the association of a Muttaraiyar with the temple (ARE 514 of 1912). The next record belongs to the third year of Rajendra I and is of some historical importance. It refers to a gift made to the Mahadevar at Urrattur for the merit of one Srutiman Nakkan Chandiran alias Rajamalla Muttaraiyan of the elephant corps who met with a hero’s death while carrying out the orders of the king to pierce the enemy’s elephant, in the battle of Hottur (a.d. 1007: Fleet, Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts, p. 433) fought between Rajendra I and the Western Chalukya ruler Irivabedanga Satyasraya (ARE 515 of 1912).

Again on the west side of the base of th there are two inscriptions of the days of Rajadhiraja I. One, of his twenty-eighth year, refers to a sale of land to the temple of Urrattur Peruman-adigal (ARE 513 of 1912). The other is incomplete and its date unknown; it records the gift of a lamp to the Mahadevar of Urrattur for the merit of a woman residing at Tirani (ARE 516 of 1912).

There are no inscriptions relating to the reigns of his successors till the days of Vikrama Chola.

The temple faces east. The oldest parts of the temple are the garbhagriha and the ardhamandapa; the former is a square of side 2.44 ms (8'), and the ardhamandapa projects 1.88 ms (6') forward from it. Ahead of the ardhamandapa is the snapana in one corner of which the old Nandi of the temple is kept; it is reached from the north or the south by a small flight of steps. The garbha-griha has three devakoshtas containing Dakshinamurti in the south, Vishnu in the west and Brahma in the north; the two ardhamandapa niches also contain the usual figures: Ganapati in the south and Durga in the north.

The griva, sikhara and stupi are modern. The Later Chola gopuram at the entrance to the temple is seven-storeyed and well-preserved; it was in existence even by the days of Kulottunga II.

The temple must have been a foundation of the days of Aditya I and has a continuous history of royal benefactions till well into the Vijayanagara days. Though it is an utterly neglected one today, it had played a significant role in the history of the region over the centuries: a longstanding dispute between certain communities in this region was settled at a meeting in the local Uttamasolan mandapa and the rights of the so-called Idangai community were finalised and recorded in an inscription, in the fortieth year of Kulottunga III (ARE 489 of 1912).

The Amman shrine has an unusual and unique set of koshta figures, namely, the three Saktis: Jnana, Ichcha and Kriya, and besides Durga and Brahmi (Pis 232 to 247).

The Cholisvaram temple:

In the outskirts of the village, atop a low hillock, there is a dilapidated Later Chola temple. There are two inscriptions on the south wall of the temple, one on either side of the entrance. One is of the thirteenth year, 194th day of Kulottunga II (a.d. 1146 - 47), and records that the temple (of Cholisvaram) was built by a certain Vana Vichchadira Nadalvan, a younger brother of Brahmadaraya Muttaraiyar, and that the income from the village of Siruvalaippur in Kannak-Kiliyur nadu was assigned to that temple (ARE 531 of 1912). The other is of the fourth year, 226th day of Rajaraja II (a.d. 1150 - 51), and records that the village of Ulattambadi in the same nadu was gifted as a devadana to the temple of Kulottungasola Isvaram Udaiyar of Urrattur; the grant is recorded and attested by the royal secretary (tiru mandira olai) named Rajasraya Pallavaraiyan (ARE 530 of 1912).

This temple is thus a foundation of the days of Kulottunga II (Anapaya) and was named after him. It is now in utter ruins, and urgent steps are needed to conserve what is left of it.

The Akhilandesvari shrine:

Alongside and to the north of the main shrine is the Amman shrine, the two having a common wall of enclosure. The Amman shrine has a foundation inscription on the south side of its base, and records the consecration of the presiding deity by one Umai Alvi alias Sivakamasundari Manikkam, one of the dancing girls of the temple of Togu-mamani Nayanar (the main shrine); the date of this record is not available. However, there is another (incomplete) record found in the same location, of the days of Kulottunga III, referring to a gift to a Siva-brahmana attached to the Amman shrine; the date is lost (ARE 505 and 504 of 1912). On the west wall of the first prakara, there is a record of the sixteenth year of Kulottunga III, relating to an exchange of land given to a dancing girl of the temple of Togumamani Nayanar of Urrattur for the maintenance of a shrine for Umai Isvaram udaiya Nayanar which she had constructed in one of the devadana villages (ARE 503 of 1912). If we hazard the reasonable conjecture that the last-mentioned shrine was built by the same girl Umai Alvi, as the name of that shrine would indicate, then the Akhilandesvari shrine may be concluded to have come into existence about the same time, namely, early in the reign of Kulottunga III.

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