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....

Temples in Olakkur

Olakkur is reached from the railway station of that name between Chingleput and Tindivanam stations of the Southern Railway, and is about 3 kms from the national highway passing through these two towns. The old temple here is dedicated to Agastyesvara.

Agastyesvara temple

There are four inscriptions on the south, west and north faces of the basement of the temple, of which the earliest is one of the 41st year of Kulottunga I, found on the south face (ARE 351 of 1909). (A record found on the door-post of the entrance to the temple repeats the contents of this inscription.) According to it, a private donor paved the floor of the central shrine, set up the Sripada-pitha (pedestal) and a ney-tangi (lamp-post), consecrated an image of Vighnesvara and gifted gold for a lamp to the temple of Tiru Agattisvaram Udaiya Mahadevar at Ulak-kaiyur alias Rajamahendranallur (in Oyma nadu alias Vijaya-rajendra valanadu, a sub-division of Jayangondasola).

On the west wall, there is an interesting unfinished record of the fourth year of Kulottunga II. According to it, Rajendra deva II had placed 100 kalanjus of gold in the hands of the residents of Ulakkaiyur for the purpose of building a stone temple for Agastyesvara. The people completed only the first five angas after which work was stopped. It was found that half the money granted was still unspent, but this amount disappeared owing to bad times. But the stone temple originally intended byRajendra deva II was not completed. The servants of the temple complained against this conduct of the villagers, and the latter agreed to install an image of Somaskandar, which was found wanting in the temple, since they were not in a position to complete the construction of the temple in accordance with the original undertaking before Rajendra deva II. The inscription refers to the location of the temple as Ulakkaiyur alias Rajamahendranallur, presumably so named after the short-lived crown prince Raja-mahendra, son of Rajendra deva II (ARE 353 of 1909).

Then we have an inscription of the fourth year of Rajadhiraja II, on the south wall. It records a gift of 32 cows and a bull to the shrine of Vatapi Vitankar in the temple, in expiation for the donor’s sin of having killed another in a hunting expedition (ARE 352 of 1909).

From the last inscription here, we come to know of some concessions given to the kaikkolars (weavers) living in the streets near the temple, in the days of Ariyana Udaiyar of the Vijaya-nagara empire.

This temple may thus be considered a foundation of the days of Rajendra deva II, from whose short-lived crown prince this village acquired its alternate name of Rajamahendranallur. The temple seems to have reflected the vicissitudes of the prince in its uncertain fortunes (Pis 352 to 354).

It is an eka-tala, misra- type temple, consisting of a garbhagriha, an ardhamandapa, and a mukhamandapa. The adhishthanam is of stone, the rest of the structure being in brick. The griva of the srivimana is circular and the sikhara round. The only surviving devakoshta sculpture is one of Dakshinamurti. There is a fine image of Bhairavar in the loose, which perhaps belonged to the subshrine now no more in existence. The Somaskanda and the Vatapi Vitankar metallic images gifted to the temple are no longer to be found. The ill-fated temple still remains in a state of utter disrepair. This Siva temple is in the custody of a Vaishnavite family.

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