Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gatti Mudali Dynasty of Salem Region Part I: History

Attur Fort held by Gatti Mudalis
Taramangalam Temple near Salem (Facade)
Taramangalam Temple Insignia Gatti Mudali
Taramangalam Thousand Pillared Hall - Pillar seen before temple. The Hindu
The Gatti (Getty) Mudali aka Katti (Ketti) Mudali dynasty ruled parts of Salem, Karur and Erode districts in the 17th century as chieftains underneath the Madurai Nayak dynasty. The word 'gatti (katti)' or 'getti (ketti)'   meant firm determination or resolution or solidness or unshakeable and the other word 'Mudali' meant 'primary.'    Edgar Thurstan construes the origin of the word 'Mudaliars' from the root word 'muthal' in a literal sense 'the first', the first in Society. The term may also denote money invested or working capital in business. Mudali appears to be the title. The Gatti rulers were known for their univocal statement, reliability and resoluteness.

The Nayak kingdom of Madurai (1530 A.D to 1736 A.D.) was divided into 72 palayams during the reign of Viswanatha Nayak by his minister Dalavoy Ariyanatha Mudaliar. The Palayakars were allowed to collect land tax and pay a portion of it as tribute. They were assigned to train the army and to offer military support to Madurai Nayak ruler to counter enemies. The domination of Gatti Mudali rulers extended as far as Thalaivasal (Salem district) to the east, Dharapuram (Erode district) to the west and Karur district to the south. Gatti Mudali reigned land was considered as the most dangerously exposed region of the Madurai Nayak kingdom. They held two important strategic forts to guard against invasion from Mysore kingdom: one at Omalur (near Salem) and the other at Attur (near Salem). The Gatti Mudali chieftains coined the unique insignia by combining the green mat, garland of flowers and tiger and this representation finds a definite place in all the temples originally built, extended and renovated by them.

Akananuru (அகநானுறு), a classical Tamil poetic work and the seventh book in the secular anthology of Sangam literature (600 BCE - 300 CE), namely Ettuthokai (eight anthologies) lists these people as one of the chieftains i.e,  Konganar, Kalingar, Karunadar, Gangar and Gatti.

அகநானுறு: 44. முல்லை
Akananuru 44, Kudavoyil Keerathanar, Mullai Thinai - What the hero told his charioteer (வினை முற்றி மீளும் தலைமகன் தேர்ப்பாகற்குச் சொல்லியது.- குடவாயிற் கீரத்தனார்)

... ... ... ... ஒரு வினை, கழிய
நன்னன், ஏற்றை, நறும் பூண் அத்தி,
துன் அருங் கடுந் திறற் கங்கன், கட்டி,
பொன் அணி வல்வில் புன்றுறை, என்று ஆங்கு
அன்று அவர் குழீஇய அளப்பு அருங் கட்டூர்,
பருந்து படப் பண்ணி, பழையன் பட்டென,
கண்டது நோனானாகித் திண் தேர்க்
கணையன் அகப்படக் கழுமலம் தந்த
பிணையல் அம் கண்ணிப் பெரும் பூண் சென்னி
அழும்பில் அன்ன அறாஅ யாணர்
பழம் பல் நெல்லின் பல் குடிப் பரவை
பொங்கடி படி கயம் மண்டிய பசு மிளை
தண் குட வாயில் அன்னோள்
பண்புடை ஆகத்து இன் துயில் பெறவே.
Meaning: Ride your chariot faster to get ahead of other chariots, my charioteer! Let me receive sweet sleep on the chest of the one with character, who is like Alumpil town with abundant prosperity, many lands with paddy fields, ponds where elephants bathe, surrounded by protective forests, belonging to Perumpootchenni wearing a victory garland, who attacked his enemies and won a battle in Kalumalam where Chōla commander Palaiyan died, and as kites soared above the battlefield, he defeated the Chēra supporters, Nannan, Ētrai, Athi wearing fine jewels, able and fierce Kankan who enemies fear, Katti, and Pundrurai wearing gold jewels, who had great talents and bowmanship. (Source: Learn Sangam Tamil)
Akananuru 226, Paranar, Marutham Thinai – What the heroine’s friend said to the unfaithful hero
தொடி அணி முன்கை நீ வெய்யோளொடு
முன் நாள் ஆடிய கவ்வை, இந் நாள்,
வலி மிகும் முன்பின் பாணனொடு, மலி தார்த்
தித்தன் வெளியன் உறந்தை நாள் அவைப்
பாடு இன் தெண் கிணைப் பாடு கேட்டு அஞ்சி,
போர் அடு தானைக் கட்டி
பொராஅது ஓடிய ஆர்ப்பினும் பெரிதே.
தலைமகற்குத் தோழி வாயில் மறுத்தது. - பரணர்

Meaning: The gossip risen is larger than the uproar in the day assembly of Thithan Veliyan wearing large garlands, in Uraiyur, when Katti with a large army came to fight along with the brave and strong Pānan, and on hearing the sweet roars of the panai drums, ran away. (Source: Learn Sangam Tamil)

The 7th century A.D. hero stone (நடுகல்) evidence speaks about 'Kunra Gatti (குன்ற கட்டி).'  

The Ilameekaramutaiya Nayanar temple inscription of Viraramanathan inscribed in the year 1274 A.D. observes about the Devadanam made to Ilameekaramutaiya Nayanar (temple) by six Mudalis of Taramangalam including 'Niruni Periya Ilaman'. Another inscription at the same temple by Sadaiyavarman Sundara Pandyan II inscribed in the year 1281 A.D. reports about 'Niruni Ilaiyan Nalla Udaiyappan', one of the Mudalis of Taramangalam, whose ancestors developed Latchumana Saturvedimangalam after winning the battle. Yet another inscription at the same temple by Sadaiyavarman Sundara Pandyan II mentions about Niruni Ilaiyan Nalla Udaiyappan, one of the eight Mudalis of Taramangalam, who made gift of tax free land (karaikalam) to priests of Latchumana Saturvedimangalam. One more inscription at the same temple points out about the same chieftain, one of the nine Mudalis of Taramangalam, who made gift of tax free villages from Amarakunthi to Vellaraipalli bound by and irrigated through Perumal Lake to priests of Latchumana Saturvedimangalam. The inscription retrieved from Taramangalam mentions about the 'Niruniar' clan of Kongu Vellala Goundar: 'Mudalikalil Niruni Periya Ilaman'; 'Mudalikalil suvatan seyyan kunra kamundan'; Mudalikalil sakatan Ilaman Perumal kamundan'.  One more inscription from the Taramangalam records that during the reign of Sadasiva (1542-1552 A.D) a village was given as a gift to the temple of 'Ramakudal' by one of the Mudalis of the same place. 'From this time onwards the names of these Mudaliars occur every frequently in inscriptions records of Amarakundi, Sankaridurg. Triuchengodu, Mecheri, Idangasalai and Pallampatti places in and around the Taramangalam region.'

Mackenzie collection of manuscripts refer about 13 Gatti Mudalis and provides the list comprising six in the order of succession: 1. Siyazhi Gatti; 2. Ragunatha Gatti; 3. Immudi Gatti; 4. Punkkan Gatti;  5. Vangamudi Gatti and 6. Kumara Gatti. Few scholars viewed the descendants of Gatti Mudali are the Kongu Vellala clan of Athiyan, Kanavalar, Marhavar, Narmudiyar, Vadakaraiyar.

Mackenzie manuscript also records the service rendered by the founder of Gatti Mudali dynasty as personal attendant to Tirumalai Nayak, the most notable of the thirteen Madurai Nayak rulers in the 17th century. Due to some petty misdeed, he left the Imperial service and settled in a village called Amarakunthi and learned indigenous medicine (as barber) and attended the ailment of Kunni Vettuvan, the local Vettuvan chieftain and also cured it. For this act of medical attendance, the Ketti Mudali was honored as chieftain. In the initial stages this region was under Vijayanagar empire. Later in 1623 this region became one of the Palayams (Madurai Nayak's Palayam divisions). Taramangalam, the temple town near Salem became the capital of the Palayam of Gatti Mudali and Amarakundhi (Omalur Taluk, Salem district, Tamil Nadu) also served as the alternate capital. Kaveripuram (Kolathur Taluk, Salem District, Tamil Nadu State) became another strategic centre at the border of Mysore.

  • Mummudi Gatti Mudali: Taramangalam Kailasanathar temple,  the most beautiful of its kind in Salem District, features exquisite stone carvings. During 13th Century reconstruction and elaboration of this temple commenced by Mummudi Gatti Mudali.
  • Siyazhi Gatti: Reconstruction and elaboration of Taramangalam Kailasanathar temple was continued during Siyazhi Gatti's reign.
  • Immudi Gatti: He ruled over parts of Erode and Namakkal. He made an endowment in 1564 A.D for the upkeep of the temples of Kailasanathar and Hamisvaram Udaiya Nayanar in Taramangalam. At Bhavani Sangameswarar Temple, one of his inscriptions was retrieved and placed along the wall of the temple. It speaks about his wife's contribution to the temple.
  • Vangamudi Gatti: Vanangamudi Gatti completed the reconstruction and elaboration of Taramangalam Kailasanathar temple in the 17th century. He also had plan to construct a Thousand Pillared Hall and for this purposes his sculptors chiseled several gigantic monolithic pillars of pink granite carved, polished, and ready for erection. Since he was killed in a war in Omalur in 1667 A.D., this hall could not be completed. About 20 pillars lie around the temple and some more are believed to have got buried. However in 1975, the Salem district collector initiated a project to retrieve the pillars and complete the Pillared hall with the available pillars and this project discontinued due to declaration of emergency. Vanagamudi Gatti  also built a Pillaiyar temple and a matam in Chidambaram. He has granted the village of Ilavampatti to the Kailasanathar temple in Taramangalam.

  1. Attur Fort in Aragalur blog
  2. Call to restore 374-year-old exquisitely carved pillars SP.Saravanan. The Hindu. July 01, 2014
  3. Gatti Mudali
  4. Gatti Mudhali Dynasty
  5. Historic inscription lies uncared for at temple.  Karthik Madhavan. The Hindu. January 28, 2007
  6. Mackenzie manuscripts; summaries of the historical manuscripts in the Mackenzie collection, Volume 1,Colin Mackenzie,University of Madras, 1972
  7. Talk: Gatti Mudalis
  8. Taramangalam Growth.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Krisnhnagiri Fort and Baramahal: 'The Gateway of Tamilnadu'

Krishnagiri, 'the Gateway of Tamil Nadu,' is the small town in western part of Tamil Nadu. It is located 90 km from Bangalore and 45 km from Hosur. This region was ruled by occupied by Kongu and Chera rulers. Later the region came under Cholas, Pallavas, Gangas, Nulambas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagar. Krishnagiri region served as the protective barrier for Thamilkam. Krishnangiri mountain aka Syed Basha Hill located to the North of Tiruvannamalai road in Krishnagiri. Krihnagiri fort, a small but strong fort built on top of the hill by the Vijayanagar emperor  Krishnadevaraya. Therefore the town and the fort are named after Krishnadevaraya. The fortress served as the most important defensive point and the majestic fort stands as testimony till now. A mint was instituted here in 1794 A.D. to mint gold, silver and copper coins. There is a flight steps leading from the foothills to the top of the mountain. There is also a dargah on top of hills and cave. The fort is visible from the highways and one has to walk through narrow lanes and slums to reach the entrance to the hills. It will be a great experience to glance the aerial view of this ancient place. The hill slope with rocky formations as well as with shrubs and hedges was a treat to the eyes. The strong breeze will be soothing the mind and body. There is a small museum inside the fort.

Krishnagiri fort has some interesting to tell. As told earlier the fort was built by emperor Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagar Empire. The name 'Baramahal' was given to the fort and its surrounding areas. King Krishnadevaraya left this fort under the custody of Jagadevarayan in an appreciation of his valor in the wars and this chieftain named the place as Jagadevi.

This fort and Baramahal was seized by Bijapur Sultan in the 17th century. Later this fort came under Shahaji (F/o Chatrapathi Shivaji) as jagir. After the demise of Shahaji, his son Vyankoji aka. Ekoji (B/o Chatrapathi Shivaji) became the jagidar. Finally in 1670 Chatrapathi Shivaji occupied the fort after conquering Vyankoji.

Hyder Ali, the warrior of Mysore serving under Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, the king of Mysore, brought the fort under his control during 18th century. After the Mysore war the fort went to the control of the British Indian government in 1768. When Tipu Sultan (S/o Hyder Ali) occupied this fort. Though Lt.Col. Maxwell, the commander of the British troops attacked the fort in November 1791, it remained with Tipu Sultan till the Treaty of Srirangapatna was made in 1792. Finally the fort came under the British. At present this strong fort is maintained by ASI. The fort with its picturesque sight, its long history will definitely attract the passing tourists and visitors and make them to feel as a must visit monument when in this town.

Youtube Video: Structure in Tipu Sultan's at Krishnagiri by mrdave991. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ramayana Murals: A Surprise in Bodi Nayakanur Palayapattu Zamin Palace

Photography: ram.krish8278 [30 July 2009]
Temple images
Photography: தினமலர். நவம்பர் 24,2012
Bodi Nayakanur is the small town located in the foot hills of Western Ghats in Theni district in Tamil Nadu. This beautiful place serves as the vantage point for the tourist places in the Western Ghats i.e, Munnar, Bodi Mettu, Cumbum Mettu, Thekkadi and Suruli Falls etc.  The town is aptly named as "The South Kashmir" for its chill weather, rustic atmosphere, ubiquitous lush green stretches of cultivated lands and tea plantations, mesmerizing blue mountains with rocky peaks, resounding cascades and the antique temples. It is a market place for cardamom, coffee, tea, pepper, and silk-cotton.

Bodi Nayakanur Zamin palace 

Bodi Nayakanur Zamin palace is the historical place and the residence of Zamindars of Bodi Nayakanur Palayapattu Zamin. The three storied Bodi Nayakanur Zamin palace resembles the architectural styles of Jodhpur Palace of Rajasthan and this structure is enclosed by huge perimeter wall. This antique monument was built with lime mortar, intricately carved teak wooden pillars, Maharashtra style wooden arches, entablature, cornice, beams and doors. The palace houses a vast durbar hall (ceremonial meeting hall of the royal court), Lakshmi Vilasam hall, Visitors hall, 'Ukkiranam' or store room, paddy granary, 'Gotha' or sports pavilion, horse staple and elephant staple.The entrance or Acharavasal as well as the interiors are embellished with wooden sculptures. Once upon a time Lakshmi Vilasam was used as treasury and stored gold, gems and ornaments.

Mural Paintings from Ramayana Epic 

Historians believe that the tradition of mural painting scenes from Hindu epics on the wall originated from Pallava kings. The mural paintings on the walls of the dubar hall and Lakshmi Vilasam hall showcase rare and unique depiction of scenes from the epic Ramayana and they speak volumes about the fine arts traditions Rajakambalam Nayakars of Tamil Nadu. The panel of paintings drawn side by side appear fresh and depicts Ramakathai (இராமகாதை) i.e, Deva's reporting to Lord Vishnu, Coronation ceremony of Sri Rama, women celebrating the festival with cheers, war techniques and war scenes, king's court, bathing women and so on. The zamindars of Bodi Nayakanur Palayapattu are the descendants of the tradition of sage Kalaikottu Munivar. The paintings on Ramayana weddings reflects the rituals followed in Rajakambalam Nayakar weddings.

The painters have prepared paints with the right mixture of herbal extracts, colored stone powders and vajram (indigenous gum) and this paint was used to draw the entire Ramayana scenes on the walls. The white and black color paint coatings are used as the base and the images are painted on this base. The paintings also include brief explanations in colloquial Tamil. The Tamil scripts used does not exhibit dots and this practice could be in confirmation with palm leaf manuscript writing traditions.

The Lakshmi Vilasam hall also exhibits the rare painting of Vadamalai Nachiammannai, the 'Kula deivam' (family deity) of Bodi Nayakanur Palayapattu Zamindars, depicted as Ashtalakshmi with eight hands. The painted deity is worshiped annually with grandeur. This palace is frequently visited by epigraphists, archaeologists, lovers of paintings and foreign tourists.


The Rajakambalam Nayakar people, a Telugu speaking   migrated from Andhra Pradesh and settled in the western and Kongu regions of Tamil Nadu. They have been referred to by many other names, including Kambalatar, Kambalatu Nayakar, Kodangi, and Kodanginaicken. Vegiliyar Sillavar (வேகிளியார் சில்லவார்) is the sub-sect of Rajakambalam Nayakars, who migrated from Kuthu Bellary (Now called Kotha Bellary) region, Andhra Pradesh due to Muslim invasion. They reached the southern parts of Madurai and settled first in Jakkampatti (near Andipatti, Theni district), later moved to Silvarpatti (near Jambuliputhur, Theni district) and finally settled in Bodi Nayakanur region. They are partially Telugu speaking Tamil community and they were initially lead by Jaggu Nayakar. At that time this region was controlled by Poonaiyar Raja.  Once this region was threatened by the wild boar and Jaggu Nayakar killed that wild boar. Poonaiyar Raja was very much pleased by the brave act of Nayakar and honoured him with the title 'Rasi' Nayakar and offered gold bracelet, palanquin etc. Later he also commissioned him as the chieftain of this (present Bodi) region. Jaggu Nayakar ruled Bodi Nayakanur region as independent chieftain.

Period           Zamindar Name

1376 - 1413: Raga Nayakar aka. Rama Nayakar
1413 - 1454: Jaggu Nayakar aka. Sakkana Nayakar
1454 - 1483: Bangaru Muthu Nayakar
1502 - 1520: Bodi Muthu Nayakar
1520 - 1531: Jaggu Muthu Nayakar
1540 - 1554: Sila Bodi Nayakar. Sila Bodi Nayakar protected Tirumalai Nayakar of Madurai from Muthu Mullakan, when he waged against Madurai Nayak with a strong army. Tirumalai Nayakar was pleased by this act of bravery and honoured Sila Bodi Nayakar with the title 'Tirumalai.' From then onwards his successors added this title 'Tirumalai' before their names. When Thalavoy Ariyanatha Mudhaliar divided the Madurai Nayakar kingdom into 72 Palayams (Armed stations), Bodi Nayakanur was formed as the first Palayam. Previously it was known as Tirumanjanakadu. Nayakars added their family name Bodi and rechristened as Bodi Nayakanur aka. Bodi Palayapattu. Tirumalai Sila Bodi Nayakar became the first Palayakarar of Bodi Nayakanur. 
1554 - 1576: Tirumalai Bodaiya Nayakar
1576 - 1602: Tirumalai Bangaru Muthu Nayakar. He was instrumental in organizing the annual festival and car festival of Subramanyasway Temple, Periyakulam; also constructed the Poolanandhar temple near Chinnamanur and formed Singarathoppu Nandhavanam.
1602 - 1632: Tirumalai Bodaiya Nayakar
1632 - 1684: Mukkanna Nayakar
1684 - 1701: Rasu Nayakar
1701 - 1737: Sakkarappa Nayakar. No legal heir to succeed him. His wife succeeded him.
1737 - 1747: Thoppammal W/o Sakkarappa Nayakar
1747- 1775: Sila Jakkanna Nayakar Brother of Sakkrappa Nayakar. Mira Saheb, Subedar of  Carnatic Nawab collected 1000 panam as tribute, tax (கப்பம்). This tribute was increased to 2500 panam by Millet, (Britisher) collector of Madurai. 
1775 - 1778: Bodi Nayakar. He also lacked legal heir to succeed.
1778 - 1800: Tirumalai Bodi Nayakar Brother of Bodi Nayakar succeeded him. He only built the fort to protect him from Tipu Sultan. He married six women. His sixth wife delivered five sons and one daughter.   
1849 - 1862: Bangaru Tirumalai Bodi Nayakar succeeded him. He only constructed the above mentioned Bodi Palace in Bodi Nayakanur. He also raised the Subramanyaswamy temple. He loved hunting and he used to accompanied with collector Rose Peter (Britisher) and was awarded with gold medallion. The crime rate was lesser during his tenure and this was commended suitably by British India government. In 1862, Bangaru Tirumalai Nayakar expired and his legal heir Tirumalai Bodaiya Kamaraja Pandya Nayakar was only a child. So British Indian Government administered the Zamin. The prince came to power only after sometime. Later British Indian government took over the zamin and the legal heirs remain with the name as zamin family.

This antique palace not only houses rare paintings, wooden sculptures, carvings, aesthetically built halls and rooms but also serves as the residences of two families who are the surviving legal heirs of Bodi Nayakanur Palayapattu zamin. However the historical (zamin) identity of the palace is fading slowly.


  1. ராமாயணக் கதை சொல்லும் போடி அரண்மனை! தினமலர். நவம்பர் 24,2012.
  2. திருமலை போடி நாயக்கர்
  3. ஓவியங்களால் ஒரு அரண்மனை - பங்காரு திருமலை கட்டிய அரண்மனை
  4. தினமலர் 12 பிப்ரவரி 2013
  5. பொலிவிழந்த போடி நாயக்கனூர் ஜமீன்  தினமணி  அக்டோபர் 31, 2013
  6. Bodinayakanur, Theni District, Tamilnadu
போடிநாயக்கனூர் வரலாறு ! Bodinayakanur History by Bodinayakanur Bodi

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thiruvellarai Swastik Well by Dantivarma Pallava and Pundarikakasha Perumal Temple

நன்றி: புகைப்படம் பராந்தக சோழன் முகநூல்
நன்றி: புகைப்படம் பராந்தக சோழன் முகநூல்
நன்றி: புகைப்படம் தி இந்து
Thiruvellarai (திருவெள்ளரை) Pundarikaksha Perumal (புண்டரிகாட்ஷப் பெருமாள்) Temple, Manachanallur Taluk, Tiruchirapalli district is the most ancient Vaishnavite shrine located about 20 km. from Tiruchirapalli and lying on the Tiruchirapalli - Thuraiyur Road.  It is the fourth among the 108 Divya Desams (திவ்ய தேசம்) (Azhwars (ஆழ்வார்கள்) or holy Vaishnavite saints, who invoked Lord Vishnu with the hymn of Nalayira Divya Prabandham (நாலாயிர திவ்யப் பிரபந்தம்) or 4000 holy hymns compositions in 108 shrines. Thiruvellarai Divya Desam or Vaishnavite shrine was invoked by Periyazhwar (பெரியாழ்வார்) and Thirumangai Azhwar (திருமங்கை ஆழ்வார்). The shrine is believed to be much older than Sri Rengam, the First Divya Desam. The temple is dedicated to Lord Pundarikaksha Perumal aka. Lord Senthamaraikkannan (செந்தாமரைக்கண்ணன்) (Lotus eyed Lord), a form of Vishnu who appears in a standing  posture in a separate sanctum. The sanctum of the prime deity can be worshiped through two gateways i.e, Dakshinayanam Gate (தட்ஷணாயன வாயில்) (open during Dakshinayana period) and Uttharayana Gate (உத்தராயண வாயில்) (open during Uttharayana period). His consort Goddess Pankajavalli (Pankayavalli) (பங்கஜவல்லி என்ற பங்கயவல்லி), a form of Goddess Lakshmi graces her devotees in a separate sanctum.  There is a huge and incomplete Rajagopuram (prime tower) with the flight of steps. There is an inner tower after Rajagopuram. The built-up temple is enclosed and fortified by huge walls. There are stone built rooms at the outer corridor and any sound produced around here will be echoed.

The temple was built on a whitish rocky hillock which is over 50 feet height from ground level. (White rock = venparai or Vellarai. வெண்பாறை = வெள்ளரை). It is believed that this temple was raised by the Pallava king during later part of 8th century A.D. At a later date medieval Cholas, later Pandyas, Vijayanagara kingdom and Nayakas of Madurai have greater contribution for the expansion of the temple structures. Besides the masonite structures of Thiruvellarai Pundarikaksha Perumal temple, there are two rock-cut cave temples excavated on a granite mound. The rock-cut caves bear the Pallava sculptural depictions of Lord Narasimha and Lord Varaha as well as three inscriptions: two of them assignable to Pallava king Nandivarman II (732 - 736 A.D.) and the third one assignable to that of  Pallava king Dantivarman (795 - 846 A.D.).

Thiruvellarai Sri Vinnagaram is referred to  as "periya Sri Koyil" (பெரிய ஸ்ரீ கோயில்) in the 8th regnal year (978 A.D.) inscriptions of  of Mathuranthaka Uthama Chola (மதுரந்தாக உத்தம சோழன்)  Another inscription of Rajaraja I (முதலாம் இராஜராஜன்) mentions "Thiruvallarai forming part of Pachil Kurram (பாச்சில் கூற்றம்) (like the present taluk), Rajaraja valanatu (இராஜராஜ வளநாடு) (like the present district)."

This post is about the unusually deigned well located at the back of the (beyond the compound wall of the) temple premises. This swastika (ஸ்வஸ்திகா) shaped well is surrounded by hedges and bushes.   It is protected by Tamil Nadu state department of Archaeology and  renovated with the financial assistance of 13th finance commission 2013-14.  The well together appears like the symbol 'Swastika.' Each wing of the Swastika has 51 steps leading to the water and, on descending down the 20th step, one has to take a right to reach the tank below. The supporting beams made of stones criss-cross the structure.  The peculiar feature of the well is that it ensures privacy for those taking bath in the four enclosures. Hence local people call it as Mother-in-law - Daughter-in-law Tank (மாமியார் மருமகள் குளம் அல்லது கிணறு) since when taking bath in this tank both of them would not be visible to each other. This peculiar shaped well was excavated by one Kamban Araiyan (கம்பன் அரையன்) from Alampakkam during the year 805 A.D. during the reign of Pallava king Dantivarman (746 - 847 A.D.). It was excavated under the instructions of Dantivarman. The well is named after 'Marpiduku' one of the royal titles king Dantivarman and popularly called as 'Marpiduku great well.'    There are statues of Nandhi (bull vehicle) and Nagas (serpents) found around the well. According to the hoarding kept there the well underwent renovation during the 13th century A.D. by Yosala Veera Ramanathan (யோசால வீர இராமநாதன்) and this renovation was carried out by Kudanthai Vanigan Uyyaneri Kaatinaan (குடந்தை வணிகன் உய்யநெறி காட்டினான்).
An inscription found on one of the side wall of the well speaks about the excavation of the great well:
No. 40 - (A. R. No. 541 of 1905) - Tiruvellarai, (then) Lalgudi Taluk, Trichinopoly District. On the margin of a well called 'Nalumulaikkeni' (நாலுமூலைக்கேணி) - This inscription records the construction of a well called Marppidugu-Perunkinaru (மார்பிடுகு பெருங்கிணறு) at Tennur (தென்னூர்) in Tiruvellarai by Kamban Araiyan (கம்பன் அரையன்), the younger brother of Visayanallulan (விசெயநல்லூழன்) of Alambakkam (ஆலம்பாக்கம்), in the 4th year of Dantivarman.  Published in Epigraphia Indica, Vol. XI, p. 157.  (Grantha and Tamil characters)

ஸ்வஸ்தி ஸ்ரீ பாரத்வாஜ கோத்திரத்தின் வழித்தோன்றிய
பல்லவ திலத குலோத்பவன் தந்திவர்மர்க்கு யாண்டு
நான்காவ தெடுத்துக் கொண்டு ஐந்தாவது முற்றுவித்தான்
ஆலம்பாக்க விசெய நல்லூழான் தம்பி கம்பன் அரையன்
திருவெள்ளரை தென்னூர் பெருங்கிணறு இதன் பியர்
மார்ப்பிடுகு பெருங்கிணறு

"The object of the inscription is to document the well known as Marpidugu Perungkinaru at Thiruvellarai Thennur. Kamban Araiyan (A Mutharaiyar chief), the younger brother of a certain  Viseya Nalluzhan of Alampakkam. Commencing the work from fourth year of Kulothbhavan Dantivarman of Pallavatilata (tilaka) family  which is said have sprung from the Bharathvaja Gothram and completed in his 5th year at Thiruvellarai Thennur and named it as 'Marpiduku Perungkinaru.'   

The section 2 of the inscription is the Tamil verse (தமிழ் செய்யுள்) and is composed in Asiriyappaa metre (ஆசிரியப்பா செய்யுள்). Here Kampan Araiyan speaks about the immortal life of humanbeing (மனித வாழ்க்கையில் நிலையாமை):

ஸ்ரீ கண்டார் காணா உலகத்திற் காதல் செய்து நில்லாதேய்
பண்டேய் பரமன் படைத்த நாள் பார்த்து நின்று நைய்யாதேய்
தண்டால் மூப்பு வந்து உன்னைத் தளரச் செய்து நில்லாமுன்
உண்டேல் உண்டுமிக்கது உலகமறிய வைம்மினேய் 

This poem in Tamil declares that no object in this world is permanent. I saw a person yesterday. Today I couldn't see him because he died. Human life is immortal and impermanent. In such a world of impermanence don't fix your love (likes) on the materialistic objects. Lord of Creation has made you to give birth on a specific day. As the human life is immortal, don't forecast future from your day of birth and confuse yourself emotionally. Before age could wither your body and to shrink,  consume (spend your wealth) reasonably well for your maintenance purposes and leave the remainder of your wealth for charity.   

  1. கோயில் வளாகத்தில் மார்பிடுகு பெருங்கிணறு. குடவாயில் பாலசுப்ரமணியன். தினகரன் 25.1.2014
  2. திரு.எஸ்.இராமச்சந்திரன், கல்வெட்டறிஞர், ரீச் ஃபவுண்டேஷன் கல்வெட்டியல் வகுப்பு. 12.12.2014
YouTube Video by Subashini Tremmel

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