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....

Kavantandalam is a village in Kanchipuram taluk in Chingle-put district; it is on the north bank of the river Cheyyar and is approached by a 5 km long road along the Cheyyar bank from a point about 19 kms south of Kanchipuram on the Kanchipuram-Uttaramerur road. The ancient town of Magaral is on the way.

There are two temples in this village, one dedicated to Vishnu and the other to Siva.

Lakshminarayana Perumal temple

Much older than Cholisvaram, this temple, dedicated to Vishnu, was built by Manasarpan of Kunnoor in Vengai and completed in the fourteenth year of the king Kampavarman as known from an inscription (ARE 207 of 1901), on the south wall of the central shrine of this temple; in this inscription, the Sabha of the Chaturvedimangalam records that it sold for gold two pattis of land and a flower-garden to the same Manasarpan who erected the temple; the deity of the temple is called Vishnu-grihattu-perumanadigal. From another record, also found on the south wall and dated in the eighteenth year of Kampavarman, we learn of the provision made for the annual celebration of the Chittirai Tiruvonam festival for the Perumanadigal of the Manasarpa Vishnugriham in the Chaturvedimangalam, in Damanur nadu in Urrukkattuk-kottam (ARE 208 of 1901 & SII, VII, 421). The building of the temple by Manasarpan is formally recorded in a Grantha inscription found on the west wall of the central shrine (ARE 209 of 1901). This temple is thus a foundation of the days of the Pallava king Kampavarman and a dated one.

2. Cholisvaram (Rajendrasola-isvaramudaiya Mahadevar)

A reference to this temple is made in an inscription found on the north and west walls of the Lakshminarayana temple. Immediately after the Sanskrit introduction in the prasasti, the Tamil portion reads as follows:

Kopparakesarivarmarana sri Rajendra sola devarkku yandu dj.-vadu...Jayangondasola mandalattu Urrukkattuk-kottattut Tamanoor nattuk Kaaivantandalamana Chaturvedimangalattu sabhaiyom ir-rainal pagal emmur brahmasthnattey kuttak-kuraivara kudi irundu ivvandu innaduvagaiseykinra Vaidoor udaiyan vallan Gandan Pich-chan sri Rajendra solan ennum tiru nammattal eduppitta sri Rajendra sola isvaram udaiya mahadevarkku sabhaiyom irai-ili devadanamaga vaitta nilangalil...”

After this the inscription proceeds to indicate the allocation of these lands to the Sivabrahmanas doing the tiru aradhanai (workship) and the cook (maani) who does the paricharakam and then lays down the break-up of the rice for the morning, noon and other services for the Udaiyar. The record further deals in detail with the provisions made for rice, vegetables, curds, arecanuts and others and also for bathing of the deity during certain festivals like the Uttarayanam, Dakshinayanam, Aippasi-visu, Chittirai-visu and so on. The provision included gold gifts. The record is incomplete (ARE 210 of 1901).

From this record we come to know that the temple of Cholisvaram was a foundation of the days of Rajendra I and should have come into existence immediately before the fourth year of his reign. There are a number of records on the walls of the central shrine of this temple (ARE 203, 204, 204 -A, 205 of 1901). An inscription dated in the sixth year of Vikrama Chola deva refers to a gift of six kasus of money by the mahasabhai of the brahmadeyam, viz-, Kaaivaan-tandalam alias Chaturvedimanga-lam (ARE 205 of 1901). The record mentions a gift of land for food offerings, archanai and maintenance. There are two more records of Vikrama Chola’s period; one of his fifth year (ARE 204 of 1901) refers to a gift of land by a lady, Punkamala selvi, the wife of Devan alias Kuruchcha Udaiyan of Kiliyur nadu in Chola mandalam; here the name of the deity is partially damaged; we however get the portion “..durai al-udaiyar” in the brahma-deyam of Kavantandalam in Damanur nadu in Urrukkattuk- kottam in Jayangondasola mandal; and the other of his fifth and sixth years (ARE 204 -A of 1901) records an order of the Sabha accepting money on behalf of the Sivabrahmanas of the temple from three ladies, Punkamala Selvi, her sister Pillai Nangai, and Tiruvarangasani, for burning three sandhi lamps (twilight lamps). We get the full name of the deity in this inscription, viz-sbrahmadeyam Kaaivaan-tandalattu-Tiruvaraichchandurai Aludaiyar.

A record of Kulottunga Chola deva III relating to his twenty-sixth year calls the village Sri-karana-chaturvedimangalam, the other administrative divisions being the same as in the days of Vikrama Chola. This refers to a gift of land made to the temple and entrusted for management to the Sabha of the village by some donees including one Tiruvalanjuli Udaiyan, the karanan of Kavantandalam, and two brothers Isanadevan and Periya Pillai, both kaikolars of Irukkundar-koyil of Tirupputtur in Chola mandalam.

The temple faces east. It has a garbhagriha, an antarala and a mukhamandapa. To the north of the mukhamandapa is the cella containing the Amman, who is known by the name of Sundaram-bal. The walls of the garbhagriha are rectangular, while the superstructure above the prastara including the griva and the sikhara is in the apsidal form. The devakoshta figures are Ganapati and Dakshinamurti in the south, Vishnu in the west and Brahma and Durga in the north. The temple has undergone radical change in structure during some distant renovation.

This is a dated temple relating to the fourth year of Rajendra I (i.e., a.d. 1016).

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