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 Pachchil Amalisvaram (Gopurapatti)

This is a small village west of Tiruvasi (Tiru Pachchil Asramam). There is an Early Chola temple in ruins here, but luckily scientifically renovated and restored to its barest original features by the Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu. The Lord of the temple is called Tiru Amalisvaram udaiya Maha-devar in the inscriptions.

Amalisvara temple

The temple faces west and consists of a garbhagriha and an ardhamandapa. The superstructure over the garbhagriha has collapsed.

There are six Chola inscriptions on the walls of this temple. Two Parakesarivarman inscriptions, both dated in the twelfth year may be assigned to Uttama Chola. One of them records the gift of five perpetual lamps inilai )to the Lord of the temple of Tiru Amalisvaram in Pachchil, by Sembiyan Maha-devi, the queen of Gandaraditya and mother of Uttama Chola. The other refers to a gift by Nakkan Viranarayani, queen of Uttama Chola. She gave a prabha and a pada-pitha (aureola and pedestal) to the processional metal image of Amali Sundarar evidently set up by her in this temple for being taken out in procession during the Vaikasi Visakham festival.

A Parakesarivarman record of the sixteenth year also has to be attributed to the days of Uttama Chola; it mentions that the same queen Nakkan Viranarayani set up a metal image of Uma Paramesvari with a prabha and a, to be taken out in procession with Amali Sundarar during the Vaikasi Visakham festival.

There are three inscriptions of the days of Rajaraja I. One, whose date is lost, relates to a gift of land for the supply of oil for a lamp to the Lord of the temple. One of his tenth year provides for the gift of a lamp by Sembiyan Mahadevi (who outlived her son, well into the reign of Rajaraja I). The third is of the twenty-first year, and makes provision for the conduct of special snapana (ceremonial bath) and food offerings every month on the day of Sadayam, the king’s natal star, and also for arranging every month a processional festival and food offerings on the day of Avittam, the natal star of Alvar Kundavai Pirattiyar, the beloved and respected elder sister of Rajaraja I. The donor was Avanimulududaiyan Marttandan Uttaman, the governor of Rajaraja valanadu.

This small temple in such unpretentious surroundings has thus associations with various members of the Chola royal family. Incidentally, it supplied one of the four hundred talippendir assigned to the Rajarajesvaram at Tanjavur from various temples.

There is a fine stone adhishthanam, with a tripatta kumudam moulding and two layers of miniature sculptures of high artistic merit above the kumudam. There are five beautiful devakoshtas on the walls of the shrine, and the ones on the side walls are flanked by artistic koshta-pancharas. The figures are

Dakshinamurti in the south, Hariharar in the east (rear), and Durga and Brahma in the north. The image of Ganapati to be expected in the other southern devakoshta is missing. There is an excellent stone nandi a little to the west of the temple (Pis 363 to 369).

There is no inscription in this temple prior to the days of Uttama Chola. However, the devakoshta figures, all of which are of fine quality, can be assigned to the ninth century a.d. The Hariharar figure in the rear devakoshta indicates that the temple may be assigned to the age of Aditya I, in whose reign alone such wide variations are to be found in the devakoshta sculptures. It may be recalled that the Adityesvaram (Tiru Erumbiyur Alvar temple) at Tiruverumbur has Hariharar in the rear niche of the garbhagriha (Early Chola Art, I, pp.i 14 - 123 ).

There is a ruined Vishnu temple called Adi Rangam opposite to this temple.

While we are at Pachchil Amalisvaram, we may take note of another ancient temple in the neighbourhood (though it is a pre-Chola foundation).

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