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 Vikkanampundi

We have already referred to this temple in our book Early Chola Art Part I (page 41). This temple is located in an insignificant village by the name of Vikkanampundi, also called Vilak-kanampundi, which is close to the better known village of Rama-krishnarajupeta, in the Tiruttani taluk of Chingleput district.

Visalesvara (Vijayalaya-cholisvaram) temple

The present name of the temple, Visalesoarar is a corruption of the original name of Vijayalaya-cholisvara. Two inscriptions relating to this temple were reported in the Annual Report on Epigraphy for 1943-44. One of them is a record which can be dated about a.d. 1378 of Mahamandalesvara Harihararaya II, found on the two sides of a slab set up in a field opposite the temple, which states that the Idangai Mahasenaiyar of the region surrounding Chandragiri met in the place called Idangai-mikaman of Vijayalisvaram Udaiya Nayanar at Vilakkunipundi in Tiruk-kattikai nadu, a sub-division of Tirukkattigaikkottam in Jayan-gondasola mandalam. The next record, dated in Saka 1308 (a.d. 1386) in the period of Bukkana Udaiyar II (Vijayanagara) is found on a slab set up near the dvajastambha at the entrance to the temple; it contains an agreement made by Ellamarasar to Vittamarasar to maintain a twilight lamp (for the merit of) Bokka-raya, from the taxes remitted by the king in favour of the temple of Vijai(y)atendracholesvaram Nayanar at Vilakkunipundi (in Tirukkattikai nadu, a sub-division of Tirukkattigaik-kottam in Jayangondasola mandalam (ARE 126 and 125 of 1943-44).

Recently, the Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology has discovered another inscription on the base of the main temple which relates to the second half of the thirteenth century (about A.D.1270) and reads as follows:

Svasti sri tribhuvana chakravartigal vijaya gandagopala devarku yandu 22-avadu panguni madattu oru Udaiyar vijayalisvara-mudaiyanayanarkku... chandiradittavatu sandi vilakku onru.

Provision was made for a twilight lamp to the Lord of this temple, Vijayalisvaram Udaiya Nayanar.

These three records thus confirm that the name of the temple was Vijayalaya-cholisvaram; it should have come into existence in the days of Vijayalaya, the founder of the Tanjavur line of the Cholas; the existence of the temple in this region indirectly confirms the fact that the kingdom of Vijayalaya extended in the north at least up to this place. In other words, Tondaimandalam was already a part of the Chola empire even in the days of Vijayalaya. So his empire should have spread from Nartta-malai in the south to Vilakkannapundi in the north. And the two temples of Vijayalaya-cholisvaram built in the former locality and Vijayalisvaram in the latter should be considered as two pillars of victory at the two ends of his empire. Of course, Aditya I and Parantaka I had to fight against their political rivals to recover this territory from their control. Scholars hold that the northern boundary of the Chola kingdom was the northern Vellar, vide map on page 133 of K.A.N. Sastri’s The Colas (2nd edition), and map opposite page 30 of the History of the Later Cholas, part I (Tamil - Annamalai University) by T.V. Sadasiva Pandarattar. The Chola empire extended as far as the neighbourhood of Tiruttani even during the time of Vijayalaya. This northern expansion was, of course, not permanent till the days of Rajaraja I.

The Vijayalaya-cholisvaram at Vilakkannampundi is a misra type of temple. The adhishthanam is of stone and the superstructure is of brick and stucco. It is a tri-tala structure with an octagonal sikhara, like that of the Dharmaraja Ratha at Mamalla-puram. Its stupi is modern. The temple has an ardhamandapa and a madil of loose stones. The garbhagriha houses a Linga mounted on an octagonal pitha. There is a panel of Uma-Mahes-varar in a niche on the rear wall of the sanctum. There are excellent stone sculptures of the age—a set of Saptamatrikas, flanked by Ganapati and Virabhadrar (Siva with Yoga-patta), Subrahmanyar, Chandesar, Bhairavar and Durga (Pls 355 to 361).

Perhaps, this temple was an earlier foundation completed in the days of Vijayalaya and named after him during the period of his hegemony in this region.

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