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....

Kolar is now the headquarters of the district of that name in Karnataka State, adjoining Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh and North Arcot and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu. It is 66 kms (41 miles) from Bangalore along the national highway to Madras.

Nolambavadi, Nulambabadi or Nunambavadi was the land of the Nolambas, with the capital at Hemavati in the present Madakasira taluk of Anantapur district; they had their heyday during the ninth and tenth centuries a.d. Afterwards, their kingdom was absorbed in the expanding Chola empire of Rajaraja I, and became a Chola province under the name of Nigarihsola mandalam, of which Kuvalalam (modem Kolar) was an important centre.

Kolaramma (Pidariyar) temple

There are two important temples in the town itself, one of Pidari (Chamunda), here called Kolaramma, and the other of Somesvara; we are concerned with only the former here.

Rajaraja I and Rajendra I appear to have stationed a contingent of their army in this area under General Uttamasola Brahmamarayan alias Marayan Aru(l)moli, son of Krishnan Raman (alias Narakkan Marayan Jananathanar, of Keralantaka chaturvedimangalam or Amankudi, in Vennadu, a sub-division of Uyyakkondan valanadu). This Krishnan Raman was also known as Mummudisola Brahmamarayan in the days of Raja-raja I and as Rajendrasola Brahmamarayan (or Brahmadhirajan) in the days of Rajendra I. He frequently stepped in to ensure that the royal orders in respect of endowments were duly entered into the revenue registers (E.C., X, KC, iii & 112a: see below).

The earliest inscription in the temple is one of Rajaraja I. It mentions that a village in Kuvalala nadu in Nigarilisola mandalam was granted, with effect from the twelfth year of the king, as a devadana to the temple of Pidariyar at Kuvalalam in the same nadu (ibid., KC, 106c). An inscription of his twenty-second year registers that the king made the village of Araiyur in the same nadu a devadana and made it over to a Sivabrahmana, who was a priest of the goddess (ibid., K.C., 106b).

There are a number of inscriptions of Rajendra I. Two, of the eighth and twelfth years, concern gifts for lamps to the temple (ibid., KC, 106a, 112). Two register royal orders, of the eleventh and sixteenth years, each assigning a village in the same (Kuvalala) nadu as a devadana to the temple (ibid., K.C., 112a, iii). An inscription dateable to a.d. 1030, found on the lintel of a doorway, mentions that a mandapam in the name of Rajendra I was erected by a lady called Jakkiyappai, at “the foot of Sulkal-malai, otherwise called Kanakaparvatam, in the Kadambanakkai nadu” (ibid., KC, 115). The most important inscription here of his days is of the twenty-second year; it records that in pursuance of a royal command, General Uttama-sola Brahmamarayan (son of General Krishnan Raman) rebuilt of stone the brick temple of Pidariyar at Kuvalalam, and also gifted to it a perpetual lamp, seven “excellent she-buffaloes” and a lamp-lighter (ibid., Kl., 109a; ARE 480 of 1911). It seems likely that Rajendra I not only did the above rebuilding but built a new Saptamatrika shrine, adjacent to the mandapa in front of the original shrine. The images relating to the Yogini cult and others referred to in an inscription of the second year of Kulottunga I should be associated with this (new) shrine.

We infer from a fragmentary record of the thirty-fifth year of Rajadhiraja I alias Vijaya Rajendra that Nigarilisola man-dalam was renamed Vijaya Rajendra mandalam in his days. There is also a record of the third year of Rajendradeva (II) relating to the gift of two perpetual lamps K.E., 112b, 107).

The ground plan of the temple complex has a rather strange look. The main shrine, that of Kolaramma, is to the north of the campus and faces east. The later, larger shrine faces north, and the two share a four-pillared mandapa (in front of both). Both shrines comprise a garbhagriha and an ardhamandapa. The treatment of the external wall surface parts (such as pilasters) is identical for the two shrines.

The Kolaramma shrine houses images of the Saptamatrikas together with Ganapati and Virabhadra, the pride of place being given to Chamunda, whose image is larger than the rest. It is to her that the name Kolaramma refers (the Pidariyar of the inscriptions). To meet the need to accommodate as many as nine deities, the garbhagriha is oblong; it is supported by a low upanam and a high adhishthanam consisting of several mouldings including a jagatippadai and a tri-patta kumudam; these mouldings and the garbhagriha walls are covered with inscriptions. There is an animated bhutagana frieze below and a lion frieze above the cornice. The superstructure consists of a high griva and a sala- type sikhara (Pis 334 to 337).

The other shrine houses stucco images of the Saptamatrikas, much bigger than those of the main shrine; its ardhamandapa, which is supported by a row of four pillars, contains a life-size figure of a female deity; there is no superstructure over the garbhagriha.

The two shrines and the mandapa common to them are surrounded by a prakara and a tiruch-churru-maligai. The entrance to the temple-complex is on the east wall, but is not in line with the axis of the main shrine. Both the shrines can be approached only through the prakara. At the entrance to the main shrine (from the common mandapa), there are two stone sculptures, Bhairavar on the left and Bhairavi (?) on the right.

The second year inscription of Kulottunga I:

In this inscription (ibid., KG, 108, 106 d), it is recorded that one Ambalavanan Tiruppondaiyar alias Virasikhamani Muvendavelar (presumably a royal officer) ascertained from the Kannataka Pandita who was conducting the madapattiyam for the goddess and from the panchacharya pujaris, at an enquiry held in a mandapa of this temple, that no allotment of the paddy-equivalent had been made until that year to the deities and the temple servants, out of the revenue in gold (madai) collected from the devadana villages of the temple. He issued orders prescribing the equivalent (577 madais and three mahanis equivalent to 1034 kasus equivalent to 2,834 kalams and odd of paddy). The record also lists the various deities for whose worship and for offerings to whom detailed provision was made from out of the above: the saptamatrikas with Ganapati and Virabhadra, Chamundesvari of the mulasthana, Yogesvari, Kshetrapala deva, Maha Sasta and Surya deva; also mentioned are Astra deva, 10 Kumbha-devatas and Nava graha devatas. Provision was made for the offering of intoxicating drinks as part of the worship of Yogesvara and Yogini. Elaborate provision was made for the various temple servants (the Kannataka Pandita, priests and musicians, watchmen, gardeners, garland-makers, drummers and bell-ringers, an accountant, a dancing master and 24 dancing women, and various artisans) and for feeding physically handicapped persons. Among the other beneficiaries listed, we find: four brahmacharins, four yoginis four yogesvaras, three bhairavas and a leader, and a lecturer on vyakarana and yaamala the pujari and the masons. (Also see my Early Chola Temples, pp. 147-8.)

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