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....

Kuvam, a small village in the Tiruvallur taluk of Chingleput district, is reached by proceeding 34 kms on the Madras-Sri-perumbudur road and branching off to a district road to the right on which 22 kms are traversed before reaching a bifurcation, one road to the right going to Perumbakkam and the other to the left going to Kuvam, a distance of 1 km from the junction. The village is on the Chingleput-North Arcot district border. It is situated not far from the famous Vaishnavite centre of Sriperumbudur, associated with Acharya Ramanuja and the the celebrated Saivite centre of Takkolam, where is situated the temple of Tiruvural Mahadevar.

Tripurantakesvaram (Tiruvirtkolam)

Kuvam was called Kuham in ancient days, and the Siva temple, now known as the Tripurantakesvaram, was called the temple of Tiruvirtkolam Udaiya Nayanar. The deity of Tripurantakar holds a bow in his hand poised to destroy the Tripura asuras.

Sambandar (seventh century a.d.) has a decad of verses on the Lord of Tiruvirtkolam installed at Kuham. The deity of Tiruvirtkolam is variously described, as the Lord combined with Uma in one person (Ardhanarisvara), one who with one arrow destroyed the Tripura asuras, one whose throat is black with poison, one who overthrew Yama (Kalan), one who founded the Vedas, the Vedangas and the Agamas, one who wore the Ganga and the crescent on his spread-out locks of hair, one who humbled the Lord of Lanka (Ravana) and one who defied the search of Brahma and Vishnu and thereby established his supremacy over them.

The earliest epigraph found in this temple is inscribed on the north and west walls of the central shrine (ARE 328 of 1909); it begins with the historical introduction of Tiru-madar-puviyemm and relates to the fifth regnal year of Parakesari Rajendra Chola deva (II) (a.d. 1057). It registers the sale of land for 160 kasus by the assembly of Kottur alias Chola-vidyadhara-chaturvedi-mangalam in Manavil kottam of Jayangondasola mandalam. The land was meant to dig a feeder channel to Tribhuvana Madevip- per-peri at Kuvam alias Madurantaka-nallur. Madhurantaka was a title of Rajendra I and Tribhuvana Ma(ha)devi was one of his queens. Hence it seems reasonable to assume that the present temple built of stone might have come into existence even during the period of Rajendra I.

The next inscription of the Middle Chola period is one of the second regnal year of Udaiyar Vira Rajendra deva (a.d. 1065). It concerns a sale of certain lands in four villages to a person who later made a gift of them to this temple in the twentieth year of Kulottunga I (ARE 338 of 1909). It is stated that in respect of these lands each of the four adjoining assemblies claimed them as their own. They met together to resolve this tangle and decided that the disputed land should be made over to the temple of Tiruvirtkolam Udaiyar at Madurantakanallur (Kuvam). At this stage, a certain Akkalibhattan, a devotee of the temple, came forward to purchase the land on condition that the residents of the four villages agreed to fixing the boundaries of the lands. This was done, Akkalibhattan bought the lands and presented them to the temple in the twentieth regnal year of Kulottunga I.

An inscription (ARE 345 of 1909) of the third regnal year of Tribhuvana chakravartin to be identified with Kulottunga I concerns a gift of money for a lamp by a native of Tiruvilimilalai. Another inscription of this king dated in his fifteenth year refers to a gift of 20 kasus for a lamp by a native of Palaiyanur near Tiruvalangadu in Tondai Nadu (ARE 336 of 1909). An inscription, in prose and verse, on the west wall of the central shrine, relating to his forty-second year, refers to a gift of paddy and fishing rights (min-pattam)for repairs and maintenance of the Tribhuvana-madevip-^r-m at Kuvam alias Madurantakanallur (ARE 326 of 1909). An inscription of his forty-eighth year found on the north wall of the central shrine mentions a gift of land for offerings to the deity of Vrishabhavahana devar in the temple (ARE 330 of 1909).

In the days of Vikrama Chola, Kuvam (alias Madurantakanallur) was renamed Tyagasamudra-nallur, after a surname of this ruler. This new name is found in an inscription of the eighth year of Kulottungasola deva II, which records a gift of money for a lamp to Tiruvirtkolam Udaiyar (ARE 329 of 1909).

This region was ruled temporarily by Vijaya Gandagopala deva but was soon conquered by the Pandyas (ARE 322 of 1909). There is a gift for a festival called Kulasekhara-nwj</Ai in the twenty-seventh regnal year of a Tribhuvanachakravartin Konerin-maikondan (a.d. 1295), who is to be identified with Maravarman Kulasekhara (a.d. 1268 to 1308).

There are two inscriptions of the Vijayanagara rulers. One of these, relating to the time of Venkatapati Raya of Anegundi, mentions a gift of land in Tribhuvanamadevi mangalam (a part of Kuvam) evidently to the local temple (ARE 327 of 1909). The other one, dated in Saka 1532 (a.d. 1610), provides for special worship in the month of Margali (December) to Tiruvirt-kolisvara by Mahamandalesvara Goppuni Obaraya deva Maharaya (ARE 332 of 1909).

This region passed into the hands of the Sultan of Golkonda shortly thereafter; a certain person is said to have planted a grove of trees at Kuvam for the merit of Timmappa Nayudu and presented it to the local temple. Another gift of a grove for maintaining a lamp to be burnt before Tripurantakasvamin was made in a.d. 1855.

This temple was perhaps a brick structure in the seventh century A.D. (the days of Sambandar). The earliest inscription in the newly-built stone temple belongs to the period of Rajendra-deva II, but its construction might have been begun even in the days of his father, Rajendra I.

The original temple of Rajendra I’s period seems to have consisted of the garbhagriha (6.69 ms across the axis and 8.36 ms along its length) and the ardhamandapa. The mukhamandapa is of a later age. The garbhagriha is square, and the part of the vimana over it is apsidal. In this respect, it resembles the Pallava temple of Virattanesvara at Tiruttani. It has three talas like the Adipurisvara temple at Tiruvorriyur, which was built in the days of Rajendra I. The adhishthanam, no cms high, is adorned with many mouldings (Pis 278 to 282).

The devakoshta sculptures are Ganapati and Dakshinamurti in the south, Lingodbhavar in the rear and Brahma and Durga in the north.

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