Between 1001 and 1500 CE, Cholas, Tamilnadu

Srinivasanallur – Koranganatha Temple

IntroductionSrinivasanallur is a town located about 50 km from Trichy. The region is referred as Mahendra-mangalam in inscriptions. This Mahendra-mangalam could be the name given by some Pallava king as there were three Pallava kings with coronation name Mahendravarman. Mahendravarman I (580-630 CE) was known to be ruling over Trichy during his period however this region was not under the Pallava-s after Mahendravarman I. This suggests that if the region was named after a Pallava king then it could be only Mahendravarman I. However none of the inscription of this Pallava king refer this region.Monuments – There are many temples of interest at Srinivasanallur. Koranganatha temple is the only temple which is under protection from Archaeological Survey of India.

 

Koranganatha Temple (image courtesy – Avanibhajana from Flickr)

 

Koranganatha Temple –  This east facing temple is an example of dvitala (double storeys) vimana structure as seen in Muvar Koil at Kodumbalur and Sundaresvara Temple at Thirukkattalai. There are many advanced architectural features seen in this temple in comparison of simpler shrines at Panangudi, Kaliyapatti and Visalur. First difference to notice is antarala (vestibule) inserted between the sanctum and ardha-mandapa. Total length from mandapa to vimana is about 50 feet where mandapa is a rectangle of 25 feet by 20 feet and the vimana is a square of 25 feet side. Sanctum inside vimana is a square chamber of 12 feet side.

Vyala row (image courtesy – Katherine Brobeck)

 

A very visible and striking difference which is observed from the Pallava temples is absence of sedent or rampant lion base pillars. However instead of using these animal motifs as base of pillar, the architects innovated a new scheme where these animals heads were put into a single-course of, a characteristic Chola feature which was continued throughout the subsequent periods. This is the second advanced feature noticed at Koranganatha Temple. This single-course row consisting of animal heads, vyala (yali) row, is placed above adhisthana (platform). There is a very low rising upapitam which is probably constructed to level the ground for construction of the temple. Above this upapitam rises upanam of quite significant height. Above this is kambudam which is rounded at its edges. Above this kambudam is kabodam which is surmounted with yalam (vyala row). The vyala row has magnificent and exquisite figures of vyala-s (mythological animals) with heads of lions or elephants. Makara figures are protruding out on the corners in level with vyala-s.

Vimana Details (image courtesy – Katherine Brobeck)

 

Third feature of interest is appearance of various pavilions in the attic of the first storey of the vimana. Karnakuta is placed at the angle of the edifice and have a square roof with a stupi on top. Salai is placed in middle and have an elongated oblong roof with three stupi-s on top. This arrangement is earlier seen on the Pallava monoliths, Arjuna Ratha and Dharmaraja Ratha, and their structural temple, Shore Temple, at Mahabalipuram. Muvar Koil at Kodumbalur also has karnakuta-s and salai on their vimana however instead of putting these on single storey, these are distributed among two storeys, karnakuta-s on first and salai on second. Kudu-s are provided above cornice. The vimana is about 50 feet high while the cornice of mandapa is about 16 feet high.

South side of vimana (image courtesy – Katherine Brobeck)
Shiva as Dakshinamurti (image courtesy – Katherine Brobeck)

 

There are niches, gosta-panjaram, carved between pilasters on the external walls of the sanctum. Niches are topped with a makara-torana on top. Two small niches are put on either side of the middle main niche. These side niches were provided for attendants or dvarapalas. The images placed inside the niches are carved very bold and carved so exquisitely these look to be carved in round and few seems to come out of the niche. Percy Brown talks about a niche sculpture of Kali in attendance of Saraswati on left and Lakshmi on right on southern wall of the temple, however I am not able to locate this. Instead of Kali, there is a marvelous image of Shiva as Dakshinamurti in southern niche. He is shown seated under a tree with his left leg placed above the demon of ignorance. On either side of him are shown his pupils, gana-s and animals. On right side small niche has Shiva as Bhikshatanamurti. He is shown wearing heavy sandals and is accompanied with a gana on his side. On side left niche is probably a dvarpala who is standing with both his hands folded on his chest. He is wearing a simha-makuta, lion face crown. There are two protruding teeth coming out of his mouth.

Brahma on north wall (image courtesy – Katherine Brobeck)

 

Middle niche of east wall is now empty. There are two female images on two side niches on west wall. It may be that some goddess was adorning the middle niche of this side. One of the female image is holding a chanvar (fly-whisk) suggesting that she could an attendant of the missing goddess. Usually an image of Vishnu is placed on west however in this case it may be that an image of Lakshmi was carved. Niche on north has an image of Brahma as usual. He is shown standing in sambhaga posture carrying an askamala and a kamandalu in his upper arms. One arms is resting on his waist. One attendant is standing in right side niche holding flowers in between his two palms which are joined in anjali mudra. There is another attendant on left side niche.

The name of temple as per inscription is Tirukkurakkutturai-Perumanadigal. Local name Koranganatha is based upon a local legend which states that the temple was defiled by a monkey (korangu) after its completion and hence was never consecrated. Percy Brown dated the temple to the period of the Chola king Parantaka I however presence of a donative record of an earlier Chola king Aditya I puts the temple to the latter half of the ninth century CE.

Inscriptions – There are many inscriptions on all the walls of this temple. Few of those are discussed in detail below: There are inscriptions found on other temples of this town also.

1. No 592 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 306 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XIII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 4 lines – dated to twenty-fourth regnal year of the Chola king  Rajakesarivarman (Aditya I), approximately to 895 CE  – Records a gift of one and a half ma of land, freed from taxes for maintaining a perpetual lamp in the temple of Tirukkurakkutturai Perumanadigal at the brahmadeya village of Mayediramangalam, by one Kachchuvan (Kashyapa) Jatadeva-Nilan of Tottyam, a devedana. The gift was made in presence of the sabhai-varigar and arigaya-batarar.
2. No 587 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 636 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the south and east wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 28 lines – dated to twenty-ninth regnal year of the Chola king  Madiraikonda-Parakesarivarman (Parantaka I), approximately to 935 CE  – Registers sale of land as devadana freed from irai and vetti and other village taxes to the Kurukkuttutai Perumanadigal temple by the Mulaparadai of the village for one hundred fifty six and a half kalanju of gold donated by Panchchan Narayanachokkan. The mediator who recorded the document was Indana Muvanan.
3. No 589A of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 639 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 19 lines – badly damaged – dated to thirtieth regnal year of the Chola king  Parantaka I, approximately to 937 CE  – Seems to record sale of land by the mulaparidai, who also freed it from all taxes, including irai, echchoru, vetti and vediani, for a perpetual lamp to the local temple, in return for gold donated by Kappiyan Eluvan Ganagadharan.
4. No 590 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 640 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 6 lines – incomplete – dated to thirtieth regnal year of the Chola king  Madiraikonda-Parakesarivarman (Parantaka I), approximately to 937 CE  – Registers a land gift of the deity, Tirukkurakkutturai Perumanadigal of Mahendramangalam, a brahmadeya for burning a lamp, by a brahmana lady Kali-Nili, the wife of Panachchan Naraynan Krishnan. Her guardian was Panachchan Narayanan Chendan. The land granted is said to have acquired bt her from her husband for her maintenance.
5. No 589 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 638 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 4 lines – dated to thirty-seventh regnal year of the Chola king  Madiraikonda-Parakesarivarman (Parantaka I), approximately to 944 CE  – Registers the gift of 12 kalanju of gold for a perpetual lamp, for the deity Paramesvara of the Tirukkurakkutturai temple at Mahendramangalam together with one nilaivilakku, a copper pot for use on the occasion of eclipses and a silver platter for placing areca-nuts, by one Charpadevan alias Chembiyankilar-nattukkon of Kilinallur in Kilaekurram.
6. No 591 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 641 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 4 lines – damaged – dated to some regnal year of the Chola king  Madiraikonda-Parakesarivarman (Parantaka I), approximately to 907 CE  – Registers a sale of land as devadana to the temple of Tirukkurukkutturai Perumandigal for 2 kalanju of gold. Another gift of 5 kalanju of gold for a day lamp to the same deity is also mentioned.
7. No 592 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 643 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 6 lines – dated to twentieth regnal year of the Chola king  Madiraikonda-Parakesarivarman (Parantaka I), approximately to 927 CE  – Registers sale to the temple of Tirukkarakkutturip-Perumanadigal, of land, freed from taxes such as irai, echchoru, vetti and vedanai, by the mulaparadai of Mahendramangalam, a brahmadeya, which received gold worth 233 kalanju and five and a half ma presumably dues on account of Panchavaranellu. The land was priced at 10 kalanju of gold per ma.
8. No 586 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 2 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XIII – On the east wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 14 lines – dated to the Chola king  Rajakesarivarman (Gandharaditya), approximately to 952 CE  – Records gift of 30 goats and 30 sheep, for a perpetual lamp to be burnt for the merit of Gangadharan-Arattan in the temple of Tirukkurakkutturai Perumanadigal at Mahendramangalam, a brahmadeya by Kappiyan Eluvan Gangadharan of the same village. The panmahesvaras of the 18 nadus were invoked to protect the charity.
9. No 596 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 3 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XIII – On the north wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 25 lines – incomplete – dated to some regnal year of the Chola king Rajakesarivarman (Rajaraja I), approximately to 987 CE  – Records on the orders of the araiyar Acharakanta-Brahmadhiraja, the mulaparadai of Mahendramangalam, a brahmadeya, constituted a new variyam (committee) consisting of a kanakku and certain members to take stock of tax free devadana lands belonging to the temple of Tirukkutakkutturai-Perumanadigal in the village and to make provisions for the various services in the temple. The details of allocation of fields for each services are elaborately given. It is said that provisions was made for seven persons to play music during the sribali service three for mattali, one for Karadigai, one for talam, one for padagam and one for segandigi.
10. No 598 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 648 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the north wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 2 lines – incomplete – probably in the reign of the Chola king  Rajendra I, approximately to 1012 CE  – Begins with meykkirtti portion of the king, Tirumannivalara, etc enumerating the conquests and victories of the king. The grant portion of the record is lost.
11. No 595 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 645 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the west wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 3 lines – incomplete – dated to twenty-first regnal year of the Chola king  Rajakesarivarman alias Kullotunga I, approximately to 1091 CE  – The record commences with the meykkirtti portion of the kings, Pugalmaduvilanga etc. Mentions Jayangondachola-chaturvedimangalam of Mimalai.
12. No 586B of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 634 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the east wall of the temple – Written in Tamil – incomplete – assigned to eleventh century on paleographic grounds  – Appears to refer to a grant of land, purchased for 55 kalanju of gold situated in Mahendramangalam, Brahmadeya. The record mentions a brahmana lady Nakkanarayani Tiruvi and the mediator of the deal, Tiyambakam Manan, who wrote the document.
13. No 597 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 26 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII – On the north wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 6 lines – damaged – dated to third regnal year of the Chola king  Rajakesarivarman – Registers a sale of land called Alichchey as iraiyili-devadana by the mulaparudai of the brahmadeya Mahendramangalam, to the temple of Tirukkurakkutturai-Perumanadigal. Among the signatories are mentioned Valakurudaiyan Kaliyan Tunaiyan, a servant of Muttamil-Acharyar who was perhaps the ruler of the village, Naranan Kakuttan, the karmakkaranan of Tottiyam, Korramangalam-udaiyan Sekharan Chettan who belonged to the Manigramam of Rajakesaripuram in Malanadu and Nerkuppai-udaiyan Chendan Madevan, the karanam of Malanadu.
14. No 588 of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 158 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XIII – On the south wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 5 lines – dated to seventh regnal year of the Chola king  Rajakesarivarman  – Records the same of a garden land at Ichanaikkudi to the temple of Tirukkurakkutturai-Perumanadigal at Mayendiramangalam by Panachchan Duvedi Narayanan Kali of the village. The record refers to a field belonging to Chaturvedi-bhatta-ttana-perumakkal as one of the boundaries of the land sold.
15. No 586C of the Annual Report on Epigraphy 1904/No 635 of the South Indian Inscriptions vol XIII – On the east wall of the temple – Written in Tamil in 8 lines – damaged and fragmentary – assigned to the end of thirteenth century CE – contains a portion of the meykkirti, tirumagal, jayamagal etc of Maravarman Vikramapandya

How to ReachSrinivasanallur is located about 50 km from Trichy on Trichy-Namakkal road which is a State Highway. Regular bus service from Trichy is available however road is not very nice so so not keep your time schedule tight. Trichy is the nearest rail-head and airport.

 

 

References:

  1. Brown, Percy (1959). Indian Architecture (Buddhist and Hindu Periods). Mumbai.
  2. Dubreuil, G Jouveau (1917). Dravidian Architecture. Madras. Asian Education Services. ISBN 8120602560
  3. Mahalingam, T V (1991). A Topographical List of Inscriptions in the Tamilnadu and Kerala States Vol VI. New Delhi. S Chand & Company Ltd.
  4. Srinivasan, K R (1996). Temples of South India. New Delhi. National Book Trust of India. ISBN 8123718675

Web References:
1. Benoy K Behl – Artcile on Chola Temples in The Hindu, retrieved on 16/04/2011
2. Poetryinstone.in on tiger-belly gana, retrieved on 16/04/2011
3. Kathie’s Picasa Album on Srinivasanallur, retrieved on 16/04/2011
4. Shriram’s Picasa Album on Srinivasanallur, retrieved on 16/04/2011
5. South Indian Inscriptions Vol XIII – inscription no 1-25, retrieved on 16/04/2011
6. South Indian Inscriptions Vol XIII – inscription no 301-325, retrieved on 16/04/2011
7. South Indian Inscriptions Vol XIII – inscription no 151-175, retrieved on 16/04/2011
8. South Indian Inscriptions Vol XVII – Chola Inscriptions, retrieved on 16/04/2011

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03558027745101085778 Mitr Friend – Bhushavali
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16485971842518838054 Saurabh Saxena

    Absolutely Bhushavali, one of the best depiction of Dakshinamurti.