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 Kottamangalam

Kottamangalam is about a kilometre and a half west of Kattur, which is 3 kms from Lalgudy in the Tiruchy district. In this village, there are a ruined Siva temple called that of Brahmisvaram Udaiya Nayanar, an Ayyanar temple, a Pidari temple and a ruined Vishnu temple (ARE 636 to 659 of 1962-63).

The area where the Siva and Vishnu temples were built was called Kiramangalachcheri—a part of Korramangalam which had as its administrative unit the body called the Perunguri Mahasbhai in Kalar kurram, included in Vadakarai Rajaraja valanadu (during and after the days of Rajaraja I). Kottamangalam was then also called Jananathanallur, after a title of Rajaraja I.

There are a number of inscriptions relating to the Siva temple from the tenth to the beginning of the fourteenth century-—of Chola kings Kulottunga I and Vikrama Chola, Hoysala Vira Ramanatha and Pandya Jatavarman Vira Pandya (5th year; a.d. 1301), but they are not of much historical value.

Sri Rajakesari Vinnagara Emperuman temple

The ruined Vishnu temple about a few metres from the main road beyond a cocoanut tope is interesting. There are eight inscriptions about this temple (ARE 650 to 657 of 1962-63), three of an unspecified Parakesarivarman (two of them dated in the eleventh year, 653 and 654), one of an unspecified Raja-kesarivarman (651), one of the twentieth year of Rajaraja I (655, a.d. 1005), one of the thirteenth year of Vikrama Chola (652, a.d. 1131) and one of the thirty-fourth regnal year of Tribhuvanavira Deva (i.e., Kolottunga III—a.d. 1212).

After a study of these inscriptions, the Government Epi-graphist states:

“Achchiyan Bhattan Chakrapani Sri Vasudevan, a Brahma-dhiraja of Peruvengur, figures prominently in 651, 653, 654 and 656.... All these records may be assigned to the 10th century on grounds of palaeography. Four inscriptions in the Ranganathaswami temple at Srirangam dated in the reign of Parantaka I (ARE 95 of 1936-37, ARE 415, 418 and 419 of 1961-62) also record gifts made by Achchiyan Bhattan Sri Vasudevan Chakrapani, a Brahmadhiraja, of Peruvengur. It may be noted that the two individuals hailed from the same place and bear the same title, viz., Brahmadhiraja. It is, therefore, obvious that Chakrapani Sri Vasudevan of the Kottamangalam records was the son of Sri Vasudevan Chakrapani of the Srirangam inscriptions. Since the inscriptions from Srirangam are dated between the thirty-ninth and the forty-first year of Parantaka I, the Rajakesari-varman and Parakesarivarman of the Kottamangalam records can only be the successors of Parantaka I. No. 651 calls the deity Sri Vasudeva Vinnagar Emberuman, while nos. 653 and 654 call aparently the same deity as Sri Rajakesari Vinnagar Emberuman. The former name appears to suggest that the deity was first named after the donor Chakrapani Sri Vasudevan, and that later on the name was changed to Rajakesari Vinnagar Emberuman.”

I should like to state at the outset that there is no foundation inscription stating definitely the original name of the main deity, its author, his name and the date of its construction. Two inscriptions (653 and 654) refer to an important donor Achchiyan Bhattan Chakrapani Sri Vasudevan, a Brahmadhiraja of Peru-vengur, who makes a grant of land for tirumanjanam (sacred bath) and food offerings during the Vaikuntha Ekadasi day to the Emperuman of Rajakesari Vinnagar, and the exemption from land tax is granted by the local He seems to have been a person of high standing and influence with the advantage of wealth and learning. Citing another donor Sri Vasudevan Chakrapani of Sri Ranganathaswami temple at Srirangam, who bears the title of Brahmadhiraja and hails from the same village of Peruvengur, the Epigraphist holds that the Srirangam donor (of about the 39th and 41st years of Parantaka I) might be the father of the donor of Kottamangalam and therefore concludes that the Rajakesarivarman (no. 651) and Parake-sarivarman (nos. 653, 654 and 656) inscriptions should be assigned to a period later than that of Parantaka I and that the original name of the deity was Sri Vasudeva Vinnagar Emperuman.

This son and father relationship between the two donors cannot be said to have been established. On the same basis the Srirangam-donor may also be the son of the Kottamangalam donor. This will reverse the order of succession. We await further evidence to support this hypothesis. In my opinion, the original name of the deity of Kottamangalam is Sri Rajakesari Vishnu-griha Emperuman (of the eleventh year of Parakesarivarman inscriptions), and these two inscriptions (653 and 654) should be considered earlier than the Rajakesarivarman inscription (651) according to which the same donor (of 653 and 654) makes another grant of land to this deity to provide for food offerings during the ardha-jamam (midnight) service of the Lord. Perhaps on account of his influence and benefactions to the temple, he gets the name of the deity changed after his own name into Sri Vasudeva Vinnagara Emperuman. This new name does not last long for we find the original name of Rajakesari Vishnugriha Emperuman asserting itself in an inscription of the noth year of Rajaraja I (655—a.d. 1005) and even as late as the reign of Kulottunga III (thirty-fourth year of Tribhuvana Vira Deva; 650—a.d. 1212). If the two unspecified Parakesari inscriptions (653 and 654) and the Raja-kesari inscription (651) have to be assigned to the post-Parantaka I period, they should refer then to Uttama Chola and Rajaraja I; but pending confirmation of the tentative suggestion of the father and son relationship of the donors of Srirangam and Kottaman-galam, I shall proceed on the assumption that the two inscriptions of this temple concerning Parakesarivarman may be assigned to Parantaka I. The palaeography of the inscriptions does not militate against this conclusion. In that case the Rajakesari inscription (unspecified 651) in which the name of the temple is given as Sri Vasudeva Vinnagar Emperuman should be assigned to Gandaraditya (a.d. 963).

It is mentioned in the inscription of Kulottunga Chola III (Tribhuvana Vira Deva) that the temple of Sri Rajakesari Vinnagar was reconstructed about a.d. 1212 by the mercantile guild called the “Ainnurruvar” of the 79 Nadus and 18 Bhumis and named after them “Ainnurruvar-Vinnagar.” This did not last long as it is likely to have been destroyed during the subsequent Muslim invasion, as it lay on the highway from Tiruchy to Gan-gaikonda-Cholapuram. (PI 362).

The temple is now in ruins. It is unique in many respects and deserves the attention of scholars. It is a brick temple built on a granite adhisthanam. There is now no deity in the sanctum. A reclining Vishnu figure of stone lying buried near the temple proves that it was a figure of Anantasayi, the original deity of this temple. There are a few patches of the old paintings at least in two layers on the inner walls of the garbhagriha. There is a dilapidated stone mandapa in front. The temple can be entered by steps on the sides of the mandapa. The garbhagriha is a square structure, while both the griva and the sikhara are circular.{GL_NOTE::}

The temple of Sri Rajakesari Vinnagar may be one of the temples built on the banks of the Kaveri during the days of Aditya I, as suggested by the prefix to the name, Rajakesari.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: