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....

Agaram, a village in the Chingleput taluk of the same district, is 42 kms from Madras city from where it is reached by proceeding on the coastal road to Kelambakkam and Tirupporur, from where a district road proceeding in a south-westerly direction is taken to reach Manamadi; Agaram is closeby, having in fact had Manamadi as a part of the larger town of Agaram in the Chola days.

In Agaram and Manamadi there are the following temples:

  1. ) Kailasanathar temple, Agaram;
  2. ) Sri Tirukkarisvara temple, Manamadi, and
  3. ) Vaikuntha perumal temple, Manamadi.

Agaram was a thriving locality during the days of the Middle Cholas and was known as Vanavan Mahadevi chaturvedimanga-lam. It was situated in Kumili nadu, a subdivision of Amur kottam in Jayangondasola mandalam. Manamadi was part of this chaturvedimangalam.

1 ) Kailasanathar temple, Agaram;

From an inscription dated in the eighth regnal year of Rajendra I found on the south wall of the mandapa in front of the central shrine of the Siva temple at Agaram called presently Kailasanathar temple, we gather that the king founded the village of Vanamangai and settled in it four thousand brahmanas. The king is variously described as Sengol-valavan, the king who established just rule, Ponni-nadan, the ruler of the Kaveri basin, Pumpuhar-talaivan, the Lord of the celebrated sea-port of Pumpuhar alias Kaverip-pum-pattinam and the Supreme power who established the Chola tiger crest on Mount Meru (the Himalayas). In the same inscription, there is a reference to god Adirai-Vitankar, evidently a processional deity taken out during the Tiruvadirai festival and to the quarter named Adirai-vilagam, attached to the temple (ARE 232 of 1930-31). Another inscription found on the same wall also belongs to the reign of Rajendra I and contains a Tamil verse on the king; it mentions the completion of the stone temple of Tirukayilayar (Tirukkailasar) at Vanavan Mahadevi by a king’s subordinate named Dippat-taraiyan (ARE 231 of 1930-31). An inscription of the 40th year of Kulottunga I (a.d. 1110) records a gift of land by purchase from the assembly of Vanavan Mahadevi chaturvedi-mangalam in Kumili nadu, a sub-division of Amur kottam, a district of Jayangondasola mandalam by a resident of Kalani-vayil in Tiruvalundur nadu, a sub-division of Rajaraja valanadu, in Chola mandalam (ARE 233 of 1930-31). In an inscription dated in Kali 4,500 (a mistake for 4, 503) is mentioned a gift of land for repairs to the temple of Kailasanathar which is described as being situated at Kailasamulai-agaram. Hence the modern name of Agaram for the village (ARE 234 of 1930-31). This new name is also confirmed by a Vijayanagara inscription dated in Saka 1569 (a.d. 1647) which records the gift of the village of Kailasamulai alias Agaram in Panaimulai sirmai in Tiruk-kalukkunrap-parru, to the temple of Kandasvamin at Seyyur (ARE 236 of 1930-31, found on a slab set up in the village).

Thus, on the basis of the inscriptional material available, we come to know that in the eighth year of Rajendra I, a colony of 4,000 Vedic scholars was established in this village and its neighbourhood, which was named Vanavan Mahadevi agaram or chaturvedimangalam, after the name of the king’s mother, and that a structural stone temple, called that of Kailasamudai-yar, was built here.

The temple faces east and consists of a square ardhamandapa, having a central bhadra projection on each of the three sides, a pillared ardhamandapa and a mukhamandapa. Externally, the garbhagriha measures 6.44ms along the axis of the temple by 6.55ms across and the ardhamandapa projects 6.20ms forward. The mukhamandapa measures 11.40ms by 10.60ms. The garbhagriha evidently stands on a high upapitham, which however is now submerged in the ground; the adhishthanam measures 1.46ms above the upapitham, and consists of the padmam, jagati, tri-patta kumudam and the kandam on top.

Over the garbhagriha there is no superstructure but obviously, on the basis of the massiveness of the garbhagriha that now survives and the size of the adhishthanam and its height, the superstructure including the entablature should have been a grand one, worthy of the temples built by Rajendra I.

In the niche on each of the three sides of the garbhagriha are the usual devakoshtas, Vishnu in the rear and Dakshinamurti and Brahma in the south and north; perhaps replacements over the walls of the ardhamandapa are the icons of Durga in the north and Ganesa in the south.

This glorious foundation of Rajendra I is now bereft of all its glory.

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