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....

The village of Kalidindi which continues to bear its ancient name, is situated on the eastern fringe of the Colair (Kolleru) lake in the Kaikalur taluk of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh and is not more than 80 kms (50 miles) from Vijayawada-on-Krishna.

Three temples were built in this village in memory of three famous Chola generals sent by the Chola emperor Rajendra I to the assistance of the Vengi ruler and Viceroy to defend the province from the intrusions of the Western Chalukyas.

(i) Rajarajesvaram

A fund of information about these temples and the circumstances under which they came to be built is furnished by the Kalidindi grant (El, XXIX, Pt III, July 1951, pp. 57-61) of the Eastern Chaluk-yan ruler Rajaraja I (Saka 944=a.d. 1022), son of Vimaladitya, whose marriage with Kundavai, the sister of Rajendra I, is mentioned in the plates. The son of this wedlock Rajaraja, “while still a boy, was invested with the necklace (kanthika), the insignia of the office of Yuvaraja” and “his uncle, the Chola emperor Rajendra Choda Madhurantaka, having heard of his great qualities bestowed on him with affection the hand of his daughter Ammanga who became his chief queen.” Rajaraja I ruled over Vengi for over forty years, the date of accession of his nephew and successor Saktivarman II being a. d. 1061. The pattern of intermarriage ran over three generations: Raja-raja I gave his daughter Kundavai in marriage to the Vengi ruler Vimaladitya; Rajendra I gave his daughter Ammanga in marriage to Vimaladitya’s son Rajaraja I (of Vengi); and Rajendra II gave his daughter Madhurantaki in marriage to Vengi Rajaraja I’s son Rajendra who later on ascended the Chola throne as Kulottunga I in a. d. 1070. In these repeated alliances, the Chola rulers sought to provide a permanent bond by which Vengi might be attached to their kingdom as an integral part.

The circumstances under which these generals fought and died are not clearly brought out in the plates. From a Western Chalukya record at Hottur in the old Mysore region of Karnataka State dated Saka 929 (a. d. 1007) we get the name of a Dandana-yaka of the Western Chalukyan king Jayasimha II, named Chavanarasa, who bore the title of “the destroyer of the pride of the fort of Bijavadi”; we may reasonably identify Bijavadi with Vijayawada of the present day, and thus the Karnataka invasion of Andhra (i.e. Vengi) and the battle mentioned in the Kalidindi plates might have taken place during the same Western Chalukyan expedition under Chavanarasa, particularly when we keep in mind that Kalidindi is not more 80 kms (50 miles) from Vijayawada; presumably the combined forces of Vengi and the Cholas were worsted or the engagement was indecisive; of this we get indirect confirmation from the fact of Rajaraja I (of Vengi) being deprived of the Vengi throne in a. d. 1031 by his step-brother and rival Vijayaditya VII. Possibly, the Western Chalukyas supported the cause of Vijayaditya and the Cholas that of Rajaraja I. We may presume with some reason that the battle was fought in or near Kalidindi itself and that the memorial temples were built near where the generals fought and fell.

(ii) Uttama-choda-chodakon temple

From the Plates we come to know that “the general Rajaraja Brahma-maharaja rose to eminence by the grace of king Rajendra Chola Madhurantaka and guarded his kingdom like a serpent protecting hidden treasure. No sooner did he receive the orders of his sovereign, than he marched into the Andhra country at the head of a vast army, accompanied by two other generals, Uttama Choda Chodakon and Uttama Choda Miladudaiyan. The three Tamil generals, who were like the three (Vedic) fires bent upon the destruction of the forest which was the Karnataka army, became engaged in a fierce battle with the commanders of the king of Karnataka.” The battle between the two armies is described vividly in the Plates (lines 85-93). The engagement, however, seems to have been indecisive or at any rate did not result in a victory for the Chola forces; for it is said that the commanders of both the sides perished with their forces.

(iii) Uttama-choda-miladudaiyan temple

It is in these circumstances that the Eastern Chalukyan Rajaraja I set up, in memory of Rajaraja Brahmamaharaja, a temple dedicated to Siva, called Rajarajesvaram in the village of Kalidindi. Two other Siva temples were also built, in memory of Uttama Chola Cholakon and Uttama Chola Miladudaiyan.

The relevant portion of the record reads as follows:

Kalidindi grame rajarajesvaram iti Sivayatanam akaravam: Uttama Sodach Chodagon iti Uttama Choda-Milad Udaiyan iti prasiddha-vanyav-api-chodisya Sivayatana-dvayam (karomi)

Not much is known of these generals who were killed in the battle. One of them, Uttama Chola Milaludaiyan figures as the ruler of the area now falling under the South Arcot district of Tamil Nadu as gleaned from a record of the fourth year of Rajendra I where he is spoken of as the Yadava Bhima of the Bhargava gotra; but nothing more is known about him. Of the other two, little is known.

The provocation for the Kalidindi grant was the need to provide for the conduct of worship and services and the celebration of festivals in these three memorial temples. Three villages, Kalidindi, Kadaparru and Avakuru, all situated in the Pallau (lower) Gudravara vishaya were granted by the Vengi ruler Rajaraja I in favour of these three temples. Provision was also made for the maintenance of a sala for feeding fifty students (. Pampasach-chhatranam, line 199). The boundaries of Kalidindi are given in detail from which we gather that Kadaparru was contiguous to Kalidindi, and to its west. The boundaries of Avakuru are not definitely known, but since Kadaparru is given as one of the adjoining villages, the three villages must have been close to one another. Two of the three villages which form the object of the grant, Kalidindi and Avakuru, retain their names to the present day and as observed earlier, are situated in a south-easterly direction not far from the Colair lake in the Kaika-lur taluk of the Krishna district. The third village of Kadaparru cannot be traced in the present day records. Kalidindi and Kadaparru were clubbed together in the record and named Madhurantakanallur, after a surname of Rajendra I.

Of the three temples, only one, the Rajarajesvaram, survives, even though in a dilapidated condition. It is in the vicinity of the village of Kalidindi and consists of a mere cella in laterite, with granite stone facing. Of the ardhamandapa only the plinth in granite remains. A nandi and a dvajastambha are in front of the shrine. A second temple is about three kms in a westerly direction, set amidst fields and has been rebuilt out of recognition in recent times. The third temple was not traceable.

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