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 Tiruppainjili

This place lies about two kilometres to the west of Mannach-chanallur on the Tiruchy-Turaiyur road and about 24 kms from Tiruchy. The main temple of the village is situated in a grove of plantain trees.

Nilivanesvara (Nilivananathasvami) temple

The presiding deity is called Nilivanesvara. All the three Nayanmars, Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar, have paid their homage to the Lord of this temple. According to a local legend, Appar felt thirsty and hungry when he was on his way to the temple. Siva provided him shelter and offered him food and water to satisfy his needs. Near the left side of the entrance from the third to the second prakara, there is a mandapa associated with this miracle. It is pointed out that the tank and the tope (grove) where the food was offered to Appar is said to lie about a kilometre and a half to the south of the temple.

The earliest of the Chola inscriptions in this temple is of of the sixth year, 185th day of Rajendra I (ARE 91 of 1892). It records the gift of 150 kasus to the assembly to supply 64 kalams of paddy every year for offerings. There are two inscriptions of Rajadhiraja I which refer to gifts to the temple.

A number of inscriptions of the Later Cholas are also there. One of the fourteenth year of Vikrama Chola (ARE 164 of 1938 - 39) mentions the setting up of a deity named Vikrama-cholisvaram Udaiyar and refers to the grant of some devadana lands to it. An inscription of the twenty-fifth year of Parakesari-varman Rajaraja II (ARE 93 of 1892) refers to a gift to the goddess whose shrine is in the second prakara of the temple. A group of deities (Emperumakkal—the three Saiva saints) is consecrated in the twenty-seventh year of Kulottunga (III) and a gift is made to it for offerings (ARE 156 of 1938 - 39). There are seven inscriptions of Rajaraja III and three of Rajendra III, besides a number of them relating to the periods of the Pandya and Vijayanagara rulers. (see Other Inscriptiona)

(i) Central shrine

The main shrine consists of a garbhagriha resting on a high adhishthana, an antarala and a mahamandapa. The srivimana is ekatala. It has a square sikhara. The devakoshta sculptures are Dakshinamurti, Ardhanarisvara and Brahma. There is a Sapta-matrika group. Among the important Chola bronzes may be mentioned Nataraja and Sivakami, Ganapati and Pradosha-murti. This is an Early Chola temple built of stone in the days of Aditya I. (Pis 370 to 375).

(ii) Visalakshi shrine

The temple has three prakaras. In the northern side of the second prakara, there is the Amman shrine of Visalakshi of the Later Chola period. On the outermost prakara, there is a massive gateway of stone without a superstructure; this outermost tiruvasal is of Pandyan construction (thirty-first year of a Konerinmai-kondan, ARE 94 of 1892).

(iii) Kasi Visvanathar shrine
(iv) Tiruttalisvaram Udaiya Nayanar shrine

To the right of the entrance to the third prakara, there are two Later Chola shrines; one is that of Kasi Visvanathar which bears an inscription of the thirty-second regnal year of Rajaraja III and the other is called the temple of Tiruttalisvaram Udaiyar. There is on its walls an inscription of the fourth year of Rajendra III, in which a gift of 100,000 kasus for worship to this Lord is made (ARE 185 to 187 of 1939).

Beyond this southern (third) prakara, there is a rock-cut Somaskanda shrine at such a low ground level that it is flushed with spring water. It is likely to be of Later Pallava or Pandyan origin. The Pallavas were very much in evidence in this region. Tiruppattur (Tiruppidavur) has a Pallava temple. The Tiruchy upper cave bears an inscription of Mahendravarman I; the the lower cave is of a later date. Srinivasanallur has a hamlet called Mahendramangalam. Nandivarman II, Dantivarman and Nandivarman III held sway over this area. The First Pandyan empire extended upto Pandik-Kodumudi. This place lay on the route to their northern expansion. Therefore, without clear evidence, the authorship of the rock-cut Somaskanda temple, which is of about the eighth century a.d., should be kept an open question. One wonders why it is called the Yama temple—was it worshipped by him?

Other Inscriptions:

In the south wall of the second prakara, there is an inscription of Vikrama Chola (beginning with the introduction Pumalai midaindu) which records a gift of land by Kon Uttamasolanar Vayiragarayan of Adamangalam in Valikvalak-kurram3a subdivision of Rajendrasola valanadu for providing offerings during midnight service in the temple (ARE 218 of 1943-44). On the north wall of the same prakara, there is an inscription of his son Rajakesarivarman Kulottunga Choladeva (II) dated in his seventh year beginning with the introduction Pumevi volar which records an order issued while the king was seated on the throne called Anapayan in the palace at Ayirattali granting as devadana, for providing offerings to the god Mahadevar at Tiruppainjili the village of Anapayanallur which had been newly formed by adding more lands to Seppalaik-kudi alias Uttamasolanallur (ARE 216 of 1943-44). There is a record on the south wall of the same prakara of the days of Parakesarivarman Tribhuvanavira deva regarding a sale of land by three persons for a flower garden to the temple (called Tiruppainjili Udaiya Nayanar temple) (ARE 217 of 1943-44). We learn that the mandapa at the entrance to the first prakara of the temple was given the name of “Ghera-Pandiyarai-Mummadi-ven-kandan tirumandapam”, according to an inscription on a pillar at this entrance in the tirumandapa. Inscriptions on the pillars in the north and east side of the same (first) prakara give the name of one Nangan Viladarayan (who raised the verandah presumably) (ARE 214 and 215 of 1943-44).

There is an undated record (possibly of the Vijayanagara days) on a pillar near the flag staff (dvajastambha) recording the construction of the dvajastambha-mandapa (ARE 219 of 1943-44).

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