Introduction – Visalur is a small town in Pudukkottai district which is famous for an early Chola temple dedicated to Shiva. The place was known with its present name, Vislaur, in earlier times as depicted from inscriptions of the Chola-s and Pandya-s found in the temple. The town would have held a commendable position in the olden days as it got the attention of the Chola rulers and their successors, the Pandya-s, as well. A connection is found between Kudumiyanmalai and Visalur in a Pandya inscription. The inscriptions of king Jatavarman Vira-Pandya (no 360 & 361 of ARE 1906) at Kudumiyanmalai talks about transfer of a land at Visalur, by the assembly of Visalur, to the temple of Kudumiyanmalai to accommodate their unpaid dues.Monuments – The only monument of interest is the Shiva temple which is a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India.
|Vimana view from north-west|
Shiva Temple – The Lord of the temple is referred as Vasukisvaramudaiya-Mahadeva in the Chola inscriptions and Varadukasuramudaiya-Nayanar in the Pandya inscriptions. This temple is a nice example of the early Chola architecture. Other similar architectural style is seen in the temples of Kaliyapatti, Panangudi and Tiruppur. All of these early shrines were built with ektala (single storey) vimana. Virattanesvara Temple at Tiruttani, a late Pallava creation, may be considered as a precursor of these Chola temples. Though temple at Tiruttani has ektala vimana however its gajaprishta (elephant back) architecture puts it in a different league from other temples. As there is similarity between the vimana style of late Pallava and early Chola monuments, it may be said that the Chola-s got inspiration from their predecessors however it is just a theory.
|Details of vimana|
The temple is constructed with a square base on which a square vimana rises above. Vimana has a single story above which square griva (neck) rises. On top of this griva is a square shikhara (cupola). The shikhara has maha-nasika (big arches) in middle on all four sides. Below these maha-nasika-s, on first and only storey of vimana, are niches carved in. These niches have Shiva as Dakshinamurti on south, Vishnu on west and Brahma on north, confirming to the regular arrangement of their placement. An image of Nandi is placed on all the four corners on this vimana story. These Nandi-s either face east or west but no north and south. There are no niches on the sanctum external walls. Each side is composed of four pilasters without any niche.
|Dakshinamurti on south|
|Vishnu on north|
|Brahma on north|
There is a probability that the temple got extended later on with a mandapa however there is no inscription of this nature to support this. Gopuram and the compound wall would have been an extension from the Pandya-s supported on a fact that their inscriptions are found on gopuram walls only. Compound wall is extended with pillared verandah all around from inside. A mandapa for Dakshinamurti was constructed adjoining with the south wall of the sanctum. An image of Dakshinamurti is now placed inside this mandapa. There are few other small mandapa-s constructed for various other deities. Few loose sculptures are placed in the compound wall verandah also. These include Jyeshta, Lakshmi and Vishnu.
Inscriptions – There are few inscriptions in and around this temple complex. These are discussed in detail below:
1. No 217 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1940-41 – On the north wall of the temple – Written in Tamil – dated to the twelfth regnal year of the Chola king Rajarajakesarivarman (Rajaraja I), who destroyed Kandalursalai, approximately in 997 CE – Records grant of lands, made tax-free, to the temple of Vasukisvaramudaiya-Mahadeva, by the assembly of Visalur in Misen-gili-nadu for providing worship and offerings to the deity.
2. No 231 of the Inscriptions of the Pudukkottai State – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 11 lines – damaged and incomplete – dated to forty-seventh regnal year of the Chola king Kulottunga-Choladeva (Kulottunga I), approximately in 1117 CE – Records provision made for burning sandi lamp in the temple of Va…..suisvaramudaiya-Nayanar in Visalur in Misengili-nadu, a sub divison of Jayasingakulakala-valanadu by Andan Aliyadan of the village.
3. No 598 of the Inscriptions of the Pudukkottai State – On the south wall of the gopura entrance to the temple – Written in Tamil in 14 lines but incomplete – dated in the fourteenth regnal year of the Pandya king Jatavarman alias Sri Vira-Pandyadeva – Records a gift of land by the residents of Puliyur in Misengili-nadu, a sub division of Jayasingakulakala-valandu, for offerings to Varadukasuramudaiya-Nayanar of Visalur in the same nadu.
4. No 609 of the Inscriptions of the Pudukkottai State – On the wall to the left of the gopura entrance to the temple – Written in Tamil but incomplete – dated in the fourteenth regnal year of the Pandya king Vira-Pandyadeva – mentions Misengiliyur-nadu
How to Reach – Visalur is in Pudukkottai district however I am not very sure about its location. My trip route was Kunnandarkoil–Kaliyapatti-Visalur-Narthamalai, if it gives some clue to reach your destination.
- Balasubramanayam, S R (1965). Early Chola Art Part 1. Asia Publishing House. Mumbai.
- Mahalingam, T V (1991). A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamilnadu and Kerala States Vol VI. New Delhi. S Chand & Company Ltd.
- Srinivasan, K R (1996). Temples of South India. New Delhi. National Book Trust of India. ISBN 8123718675