Introduction – Panangudi is a small village in Pudukkottai district. The village boasts of two fine temples and a continuous center of interest since the Chola-s.Monuments – There are two temples of interest, one is Shiva temple known as Agastyesvara Temple and another a Vishnu temple. Both the temples are under protection from Archaeological Survey of India.
|Full view of the temple|
Agastyesvara Temple – This temple is a fine example of the early Chola architecture which resembles to other early temples at Kaliyapatti, Visalur and Tiruppur. All of these early shrines were built with ektala (single storey) vimana. A late Pallava temple at Tiruttani, Virattanesvara Temple, was also built with ektala vimana however to suggest that this was a predecessor of the early Chola temples would be a mistake as early Pallava temples at Mahabalipuram, Shore Temple, and at Kanchipuram, Kailasanatha Temple, are colossus structures. Sometimes I feel that many circumstances and other constraints impact upon the structure of a temple. Above said early Pallava temples were constructed under a royal order hence these are colossus in nature. However if a temple is constructed without royal patronage, may be the case when a community or a chief of some village construct a temple, then the structure is kept within constraints of available funds. None of the early Chola temples have foundation inscription which suggests that perhaps these were not constructed under a royal order but out of necessity of the local community hence these are small in nature.
|View from SW|
This east facing temple has a sanctum and a small mandapa in front. The sanctum is constructed with a square base of nine feet side on exterior and five feet in interior. On this sanctum a square vimana rises above. Vimana has a single story with bhutagana frieze below cornice with yali-row on corners. Above this storey rests a square griva (neck). 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 and Indra (Subramanya?) on east, 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.
In contrast with the temple at Visalur, there are niches on the sanctum external walls, one on each side except on east. All the niches are empty now. The mandapa is devoid of any niche or other ornamentation. There is a Ganesha and Jyestha image inside the mandapa. The image of Jyestha would be of a sub-shrine of this temple as bases of few sub-shrines are notices around this temple. The sanctum has a Shiva lingam however it seems a later addition probably.
|Inscription on South Wall|
Inscriptions – There are few inscriptions discussed in detail below:
1. No 180 of the Inscriptions of the Pudukkottai State – On the west wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 10 lines – incomplete – dated to unmentioned regnal year of the Chola king Kulottunga III – Only ten lines of the historical introduction beginning with puyal varappivalamperuga, etc, of the inscription of the king are available. The remaining portion is much damaged.
2. No 533 of the Inscriptions of the Pudukkottai State – On the north wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 28 lines but incomplete – dated in the fourth regnal year of the Pandya king Maravarman alias Sri Kulasekharadeva – Records the fixing of the assessment on a devadana land by the temple trustees and the residents of Panangudi in Konadu.
S R Subramanayam reports an unpublished inscription which is found on the north wall of this temple. This inscription is of the Chola king Ko-Parakesarivarman. In this inscription, the deity is referred as ‘Panangudi Paramesvaran‘. He assigns this inscription to the Chola king Vijayalachola.
How to Reach – Panangudi is in Pudukkottai district however I am not very sure about its location. I visited this while returning from Sittanavasal towards Trichy. It was not very far from Sittananvasal, within 5 km range. It is about 3 km south east of Annavasal and 15 km from Pudukkottai.
- 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