Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Heritage Trails Villupuram: Tirumundeeswaram and Jambai 2

Jambai Inscription - Dasimadam. Dr.Padmavathi Explanation
 After spending our forenoon time in visiting Thirumundeeswaram temple, it was time to have our lunch. Thiruvennainallur and Thirukovilur temples will remain closed between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Our lunch was arranged at Thapovanam town. Here Sri Gnanananda Thapovanam meaning, "forest of penance is a place of pilgrimage established by Swami Gnananandagiri. We proceeded to Sri Gnanananda Thapovanam located 3 km away from Tirukoilur, on the Tirukoilur - Tiruvannamalai highway. We had delicious South Indian vegetarian variety rice for our lunch. After lunch we porceeded to Jambai.

Jambai (ஜம்பை) is a village in Mugaiyur taluk (முகையூர் வட்டம்), Villupuram district (விழுப்புரம் மாவட்டம்), Tamil Nadu, India PIN 605754. The historical village is located on the northern bank of the river Thenpennai River (தென்பெண்ணையாறு). The  Thenpennai River (aka Dakshina Pinakini in Kannada) covers 105 km in Villupuram district. It is the main source for irrigating over 25000 acres in Villupuram district. The Jambai village is at the geographic coordinates of 11.468 N latitude and 77.643 W longitude. The rural village is part of Jambai village panchayat and as per census 2011 it has a population of  3,684 people and 76.68 % literacy rate. The main occupation of the area is agriculture and allied activities.

After reaching the village Jambai we rushed towards the hillock located about one kilometer to the east of the village. Al least ten of the village boys accompanied us. We crossed a small dry lake and reached the foothills. The local boys guided us to two natural caverns 1. Dasimadam and 2. Sanyasimadam. First they escorted us to Dasimadam, the south facing deep natural cavern having narrow access. The flat surfaced Sanyasimadam cavern would have served either as the bed or at least the seat for the Jain monks' shelter. The inscriptions point out Jambai as Valaiyur (வலையூர்). The inscription of Parantaka Chola I (ARE. 446 of 1937-38) also observes about the presence of Valaiyur Nattu-p-perumpalli (வலையூர் நாட்டுப் பெரும்பள்ளி). Some other inscription of Rajaraja Chola III (ARE. 448 of 1937-38) also refers about the Kandaraditta-p-perumpalli (கண்டராதித்தப் பெரும்பள்ளி), dedicated to Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara of the Jains.

Rock Shelter (Sanyasimadam)
Pit found near Rock shelter (Sanyasimadam)
Even Stone beds under Rock Shelter (Sanyasimadam)

Ashoka's period Brahmi inscriptions in Prakrit were also discovered in the rock shelters in Sri Lanka. Inscriptions using Brahmi characters have also been discovered in Tamil Nadu in rock-shelters and potsherds of different types, and the language used is Tamil with a mixture of Prakrit words. The most ancient writings so far found out in Tamil exhibit characters which are closely resembling Asokan Brahmi inscriptions. The script used is known as Tamil Brahmi and the script  closely resembling Brahmi and used for writing the Tamil language.Tamil Brahmi inscriptions used peculiar Tamil but certainly not the classical Tamil of the Sangam Period. It is now well established that the earliest known Tamil and Ceylonese scripts are derived from the Brahmi script employed by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka..

We trekked to the cavern Dasimadam (தாசிமடம் குகை) in the Cool and breezy evening on 4th October 2015, 34 years after the discovery of the Tamil Brahmi inscription (தமிழ் பிரம்மி கல்வெட்டு), linking Atiyaman Netuman Anci (அதியமான் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி), the renowned chieftain of Takatur (தகடூர்) (present Dharmapuri district), with the Tamil Sangam Age (தமிழ் சங்க காலம்) (the Eight Anthologies (எட்டுத்தொகை) and Ten Idyls (பத்துப்பாட்டு) and the Tamil-Brahmi age (தமிழ் பிரம்மி காலம்), by K.Selvaraj, a budding epigraphy student in the Tamil Nadu State Department of Aarchaeology, Chennai in October 1981 during his regular field exploration.  Similarly the Tamil Brahmi inscriptions of Pandyan Nedunchezhiyan at Mankulam near Madurai (2nd century B.C.), and Chera king Irumporai at Arnattar hill in Pugalur near Karur (2nd century A.D.) also link the Sangam age with the Tamil Brahmi age.
Every one of us had the  great desire of viewing the one line Tamil Brahmi inscription. We hopped from rock to rock and the narrow rock crevices. Yes! the one line Tamil Brahmi inscription deeply etched on the rear-rock wall of the Dasimadam cavern could be viewed clearly. The deep natural cavern, communicated the one line message of Atiyan Netuman Anci, after safeguarding the inscription from the vagaries of weather. English and Tamil transliteration of the Tamil Brahmi Inscription: 

Jambai Dasimadam Tamil Brahmi Inscription - E-stamping
‘சதியபுதோ அதியன் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி ஈத்த பாளி”
  Satiyaputo atiyan netuman anci itta pali 

"சதியபுதோ அதியன் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி ஈத்த பாளி”  

Cave-shelter (paIi) gifted by (itta) Atiyan Netuman Anci, the Satyaputra (satiyaputo).

The Tamil Brahmi inscription records the endowment of a cave-shelter by the Velir chieftain Atiyan Netuman Anci. He is also known by the honorific title "Satiyaputo." The title satiyaputo is also mentioned in the Second Rock Edict at Girnar. Ashoka's rock edict also mentions other names such as Coda (Chola), Pada (Pandya) and Ketalaputo (Keralaputra). The inscription refers Atiyan -  the name of his Velir clan, Netuman, the name of his father and Anci the king who ruled over the Tagadur Nadu (modern Dharmapuri, Salem districts) and made the endowment. It is believed that Atiyars have introduced sugarcane cultivation in the Tamil country. Netuman Anci is believed  to have won seven notable chieftains in a decisive battle. He also captured Kovalur (modern Tirukkoyilur near Jambai) from Thirumudi Kari Malayaman, the local  Velir  chieftain of the Malaiyamān dynasty. Occurrence of this inscription recording an endowment at Jambai nearer to Thirukovilur also stands as evidence on the reign of the king Netuman Anci and this endowment could have been made to commemorate his victory.  However the inscription does not mention about the name of the recipient.

Many poems in eight anthologies i.e., Purananuru (புறநானூறு), Akananuru (அகநானூறு), Kuruntokai (குறுந்தொகை), and the ten idyls i.e., Patirrupattu (பதிற்றுப்பத்து), and Cirupanarruppatai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை) of Tamil Sangam literature glorifies the  valor and philanthropy of Neduman Anci and his son Elini. The poets who composed poems on Neduman Anci include  Avvaiyar (ஔவையார்), Nakaiyaar daughter of Anciyathai (அஞ்சியத்தை மகள் நாகையார்), Paranar (பரணர்), Nattattanaar from Itaikkazhinaaattu Nallur (இடைக்கழிநாட்டு நல்லூர் நத்ததத்தனார்), Arisl Kizhaar (அரிசில்கிழார்), Perunchitranaar (பெருஞ்சித்திரனார்) and Mamulanar (மாமூலனார்). Avvaiyar, the poetess of the Sangam Age, has composed 59 poems in total and 33 of them forms part of  Purananuru itself. The poetess has composed 22 poems on Neduman Anci and 3 songs on his son  Elini. He was being referred to as one of the seven celebrated philanthropists of Kadai Sangam Age (3rd Tamil Sangam) i.e., Kadai ezhu vallals (7 great patrons) of arts and literature in ancient Tamilakam.

Arruppatai (ஆற்றுப்படை): Arruppatai is one of the 96 minor literary genres collectively known as ‘Sittrilakkiyam’ in Tamil. It is a type of Sangam Tamil poetical form and forming part of  the Pattupattu (பத்துப்பாட்டு) Ten Tamil Idylls - the anthology of ten mid length books from Minor Eighteen Anthology Series (பதினெண்கீழ்கணக்கு). The poems comprise descriptions of Tamil country, Tamil landscape and Tamil seasons. In Aarrupadai, a literary form in which you will find the treatment like travelogues. "A bard or a minstrel (பாணன்) who has received bountiful gifts from some wealthy patron is supposed to direct another to the same Maecenas." The poetical form takes every chance to bring out in depth the nature, landscape, irrigation, social life,   and wealthiness of the territory that has to be traversed to reach the palace of the patron and his philanthrophy. There are 19 songs have references to Athiyaman by bards or minstrels (பாணன்) and female dancers (விரலி).

The inscription uses Tamil words such as itta and pali. However the honorific title "satiyaputo" is in Prakrit language. The inscription uses the northern Brahmi character 'sa' and the Tamil Brahmi character 'Li.' 'The inscription is in Tamil-Brahmi script found in early Tamil epigraphs.  The scholars debated about the identity of "Satiyaputo" (Satyaputras): Satyaputra suggested for some as "Satavahanas"; some others understood as Satputas of Maharashtra; few of them located their land in northern Kerala. But few scholars rightly guessed "Satiyaputo" as the well known dynasty of the Tamil land. The occurrence of  the Cholas, the Pandyas and Keralaputras in the rock edicts prompted them to guess like this. The Tamil Brahmi inscription of Jambai provides inviolable certainty for the scholars to identify the "satiyaputo" (Satyaputra), the dynasty under reference in Girnar Rock Edict II. The chieftain Athiyaman Netuman Anci  referred in Tamil Sangam literature with a personage figuring in the Tamil-Brahmi inscription as well as in Asoka's Girnar Rock Edict II. It was Dr.R.Nagaswamy, Director of Archeology, who deciphered the inscription and published articles in few newspapers, but reported the discovery after a long interval. He has suggested the most probable date of the Jambai Tamil Brahmi inscription as the first century A.D.  

Great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (273–232 BCE)

Great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (273–232 BCE), the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, is being regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in our history. The cruel and ruthless monarch who converted to Buddhism and thereafter established a reign of virtue. During 19th century larger number of rock edicts of this monarch were discovered in more than thirty places throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ashoka's rock edicts etched on rocks and pillars formally declared his reforms and policies and brought out his advice to the mankind. 

Ashoka used four scripts: Brahmi script rock edicts from Prakrit - a colloquial form of Sanskrit language (Indian origin); Kharoṣṭhī script rock edicts from Aramaic language but with additional letters and vowel marks; Aramic script rock edicts from the bilingual Greek and Aramic (Kandahar); Greek script rock edicts from Greek language (Kandahar). Brahmi was the most common script used by Ashoka. In 1837, James Prinsep succeeded in deciphering a large stone pillar inscription in Delhi and in his edicts monarch called himself "Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi." The European scholars rediscovered those rock edicts and translated them in the 19th century.  "It was not just the religion and philosophy of Buddhism that came to light, but also its many legendary histories and biographies." 

Ashoka's First Rock inscription at Girnar (The Fourteen Rock Edicts) version, issued in 257 B.C:

Girnar is the collection of mountains in the Junagadh District of Gujarat, India, situated near Junagadh at a distance of 327 km from Ahmedabad. The 2nd and 13th rock edicts of Ashoka  refers  the Satyaputras Velir clan in his inscriptions along with the Cholas, Pandyas and the Keralaputras. The Satyaputra Velirs wielded sufficient power in the time of Ashoka (3rd century BCE) almost on par with the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas.

Girnar Rock Edicts of Ahoka
Stanza Two: 

Ye Ca anta ata Choda, Pandiya, Satiyaputo, Ketalaputo, Tam bapanni, Antiyogo naama, Yonalaja (Ashoka Brahmi text)

Everywhere in the conquered dominions of king Priyadarsin, the Beloved-of-the-Gods, and the dominions on the borders as those of the ChOdA (the Cholas) (சோடா), PANdiyA (the Pandyas) (பாண்டியா), Satiyaputo (the Satiyaputras) (ஸதியபுடோ), KEtalaputO (the Keralaputras) (கேடலபுடோ), as far as Tam bapanni (Tamraparni) (தம் பபன்னி) the Yavana King named Antiyogo naama (Antiyoka) and the other neighbouring kings of this Antiyoka, [The Cholas and Pandyas were south Indian peoples living outside Asoka's empire. The Satiyaputras and Keralaputras lived on the southwest seaboard of India. Tamraparni is one of the ancient names for Sri Lanka.] [Antiochos II Theos of Syria (261-246 B.C.), Ptolemy II Philadelphos of Egypt (285-247 B.C.), Antigonos Gonatos of Macedonia (278-239 B.C.), Magas of Cyrene (300-258 B.C.) and Alexander of Epirus (272-258 B.C.).] everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals. [By so doing, Asoka was following the advice given by the Buddha at Samyutta Nikaya, I:33.]  

How to Get There?

This place is in the border of the Villupuram district and Tiruvannamalai district. It is located 54 km towards west from District head quarters Villuppuram, 32 km from Mugaiyur, 41.5 km from Thiruvennainallur, 19.7 km from Thirukovilur, 26 km from Thiruvannamalai, 94 km from Pondicherry and 202 km from State capital Chennai.  

Nearest railway station: 15 km from Andampaliam railway station; 16 km from Tandarai railway station;  20 km from Thirukovilur railway station; 27 km from Tiruvannamalai railway station.
Nearest Airport: Chennai.


  1. King Atiyaman - Tamil Myth Controversies in History June 05,2007
  2. Recent Discoveries Of Jaina Cave Inscriptions In Tamilnadu. by Iravatham Mahadevan. in. Jainsamaj. 
  3. Satyaputra Inscription. Nagaswamy. R. Tamil Arts Academy. 
  4. Some portions of Early Tamil Epigraphy. by Iravatham Mahadevan. in. Issue 29 November 16 - December 15 2006.
  5. Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are the only record of old Tamil. T.S.Subramanian. Frontline. Volume 26 - Issue 14, Jul. 04-17, 2009
  6. The Edicts of King Ashoka. An English rendering by Ven. S. Dhammika. Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka. The Wheel Publication No. 386/387. ISBN 955-24-0104-6. Published in 1993. (
  7. Velirs Explained

About inscriptions in Jambai - 1 Parthasarathy Manivannan

About inscriptions in Jambai - 2 Parthasarathy Manivannan

Jambai climb to jaina pallis Ramiah Krishnan

Friday, October 16, 2015

Heritage Trails Villupuram: Tirumundeeswaram and Jambai 1

Tirumundeesvaram Temple (Wikimapia)
Panuval Bookstore, Thiruvanmiyur is popular for books on environment and society and for its series of weekly, monthly lectures and discussions on literature, cinema, society, economics and politics at its premises. It has also organized three "One day Archaeological Educational Tour" to historical and archaeological monuments. The fourth one day tour heritage tour was organized on 04th October 2015 and planned cover four places in Thiruvennainallur and Tirukoyilur taluks, Villipuram district in Tamil Nadu: Gramam (Tirumundeesvaram) கிராமம் (திருமுண்டீஸ்வரம்), Tiruvennainallur (திருவெண்ணெய்நல்லூர்), Tirukoyilur (திருக்கோவிலூர்), Jambai Dasimadam hillock (ஜம்பை தாசிமடம் குன்று) and Jambunatheshwarar Temple (ஜம்புநாதேஸ்வரர் கோவில்). It was planned to hire a bus and accommodate around 30 participants.  Panuval also ensured the participation of Dr. Padmavathi Anaiappan,  retired Senior Epigraphist, Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department, Mr. C.Veeraraghavan, ancient historian, freelance archaeologist and epigraphist and Mrs. Mangayarakarasi Veeraraghavan. I had the chance to participate in this one day tour. However we could spent our entire day in visiting two places only i.e, Gramam and Jambai Dasimadam hillock and Jambunatheshwarar Temple.

Dr. Padmavathi Anaiappan: Explaining the History
We have commenced our day from Panuval Bookstore, Thiruvanmiyur by 06.30 am. After number of pick-ups at several points, we proceeded straight on the NH45 towards Villupuram. We stopped on the Highway at the roadside and finished our packed breakfast (Hot-Chips Mini Breakfast) under the shady tree. The NH 45 was looking excellent highway for pleasant morning travel. Mr.C. Veerraghavan and Mrs.Veeraraghavan joined with us at Villupuram by-pass. After travelling about 5 km, we took the right turn at Arasur crossing and proceeded further on the road leading to Thiruvennainallur enroute to Tirukoilur. After passing through the railway level crossing, we reached our first destination, the village Gramam and parked our vehicle before Sri Sivaloganathar temple.

Gramam (கிராமம்) is a village in Thiruvennainallur taluk (திருவெண்ணைநல்லூர் வட்டம்), Villupuram district (விழுப்புரம் மாவட்டம்), Tamil Nadu, India. The village is located on the southern bank of the river Malattaar (மலட்டாறு). Malattar is said to be the old bed of Thenpennai river. The historical Tirumundeeswaram (Mouli Gramam) village is described to have been located on the southern bank of the Thenpennai river. The  Thenpennai River (aka Dakshina Pinakini in Kannada) covers 105 km in Villupuram district. It is the main source for irrigating over 25000 acres in Villupuram district. The Gramam village is at the geographic coordinates of 13.093 N latitude and 80.292 W longitude. The rural village is part of Gramam village panchayat and as per census 2011 it has a population of 3,048 people and 68.43 % literacy rate. The main occupation of the area is agriculture and allied activities. It is located 16 km towards South from District head quarters Viluppuram, 3 km from Arasur, 5 km from Thiruvennainallur, 21 km from Thirukovilur and 190 km from State capital Chennai. 

Location: Gramam near Tiruvenneinallur . (Nadu Naadu (நடு நாடு)
Historical Name: Mundeeswaram (முண்டீஸ்வரம்)
Shiva: Sivalokanathar (சிவலோகநாதர்), Mundeeswarar (முண்டீஸ்வரர் ), Mudiswarar (முடீஸ்வரர்).
Ambal: Soundaryanayaki (சௌந்தர்யநாயகி), Kanarkuzhali (காணார்குழலி), Selvambikai (செல்வாம்பிகை).
Holy Tree (Vriksham): Vanni (வன்னி). Prosopis tree (in English). Botanical Name: Prosopis cineraria (Family: Fabaceae)
Holy Water (Theertham): Mundaka Theertham (முண்டக தீர்த்தம்)

Devaram Hymn (தேவார பதிகம்) : Devaram hymns of saint Tirunavukkarasar (திருநாவுக்கரசர்). This shrine is the 19th Lord Shiva Temple in Nadunadu region praised in Devaram hymns (19வது நடுநாட்டுத் தேவார தலம்). 

Hymns (Patikam) of Saint Tirunavukkarasar Devaram mentions this shrine as Tirumundeeswaram (திருமுண்டீச்சுரம்

'திருமுண்டீச் சரத்து மேய சிவலோகன் காணவனென் சிந்தை யானே.'


The inscriptions of Parantaka Chola I address this shrine as 'Tirumudiyur.'  The inscriptions of Rajendra Chola I record the name of this shrine brahmadeyam of Mudiyur-nadu (முடியூர் நாட்டுப் பிரமதேயம்)   and was forming part of the subdivision of Tirumunaipadi Nadu (திருமுனைப்பாடி நாடு) in Jayangonda-Solamandalam (ஜெயங்கொண்ட சோழமண்டலம் ) province. According to the inscriptions of Aditya Karikalan aka Aditya II, Kulotunga I and Kulotunga II, this shrine was known as Parantaka chaturvedhi-mangalam (பராந்தக சதுர்வேதிமங்கலம்) of Mutiyur-nadu (a subdivision) of Tirumunaipadi Nadu (திருமுனைப்பாடி நாடு) in Jayangonda-Solamandalam. Rajaraja II called this shrine as Kulotunga Chola Chaturvedhi-mangalam (குலோத்துங்க சோழ சதுர்வேதிமங்கலம்) of Mutiyur-nadu. The place according to R.P.Sethupillai (இரா.பி.சேதுப்பிள்ளை) was also called as Mouli Gramam (மௌலி கிராமம்) in Sanskrit. Later it was transformed to as just 'Gramam' after omitting prefix 'Mouli.' The current name of this shrine is Tirumundeeswaram.

The prime deity Sivalokanathar was addressed with different names in different inscriptions: Parantaka Chola I inscriptions called the Lord as 1. Sri-Arruttali (ஸ்ரீ ஆற்றுதளி), 2. Sri-Arruttali-Mahadeva (ஸ்ரீ ஆற்றுதளி மகாதேவா), 3. Sri-Arruttali-Perumanadigal (ஸ்ரீ ஆற்றுதளி பெருமானடிகள்), 4. Sri-Arruttali-mulasthanattu-Perumanadigal (ஸ்ரீ ஆற்றுதளி மூலஸ்தானத்துப் பெருமானடிகள்), 5. Sriyarruttali-Perumal (ஸ்ரீயாற்றுத்தளி பெருமாள்). Rajara Chola II preferred to call the Lord as Sri-Arruttali-Aludaiyar (ஸ்ரீ ஆற்றுதளி ஆளுடையார்). Jatavarma Sundarapandya I called the Lord as Bokkanankuduttaruliya-Nayanar (பொக்கிஷங்கொடுத்தருளிய நாயனார்) and Mulasthanam-Udaiyar Bokkanankuduttaruliya-Nayanar (மூலஸ்தானத்து உடையார் பொக்கிஷங்கொடுத்தருளிய நாயனார்).

View from North-east corner
The Chola prince Rajaditaya, when stationed to guard the Chola garrison in Gramam village, crowned himself as the Chola prince. Vellankumaran (வெள்ளன்குமரன்), a native of Nadikkaraputtur in Chera country (சேரநாட்டு நந்திக்கரைபுத்தூர்) was serving as the general of Chola army and was stationed here along with his force. Sri Sivalokanathaswamy temple was constructed by Vellankumaran during the 36th regnal year (943 A.D.) inscription of Parantaka Chola I records the consecration of the granite temple of Sri-Arruttali-Perumanadigal at Mudiyur in auspicious Revathi star, on Saturday in the Tamil month Thai in 4044th Kaliyuga year.

View from North-west corner

Legend has it that king Chokkalingam, attracted by the mystifying red lotus flower in the water tank, attempted to get hold of the flower. The flower kept moving in a circle around the tank. The king lost his patience and shot an arrow at the flower. King fainted on seeing the entire tank water turned red. After sometime when he gained conscious, he found a Shivalinga with the scar on the head. The Shivalinga was consecrated and this temple structure was built by him on the south bank of the Pennai river. The river course and changed over a period of time and now the river Malattar flows on its left. Since the Lord appeared with scar, he got the name Mudeeswarar (முடீஸ்வரர்) and the village during Parantaka I Chola rule was known as 'Mouli Gramam' (மௌலி கிராமம்). Over a period of time, the village is simply called as 'Gramam.'  The temple is popularly called as 'Tirumundeeswaram,' a transformation from 'Tirumudeeswaram' (திருமுண்டீஸ்வரம்).  Another interpretation is that Thindi and Mundi are the Dwarapalakas of the Lord Shiva and Mundi worshiped Him at Mundeeswaram and Thindi worshiped Him at Thindeeswaram (present Tindivanam).  The Lord is referred to as ‘Aattruthali Mahadeva’ (ஆற்றுத்தளி மகாதேவர்) in the inscriptions.

Rajagopuram, Main Sanctum, Murugan Sanctum (behind), Goddess at left

The five tier rajagopuram and the tall and huge perimeter wall encloses the vast temple complex.  The temple has wide and spacious corridor.   The temple architecture is identified  as "Somaskanda form" i.e., the sanctum of the Muruga shrine is flanked by the sanctum of the prime deity on the right and the goddess's sanctum on the left.  

Sivalokanathar aka Mundeeswarar or Mudiswarar

The prime deity is Lord Sivalokanathar aka Mundeeswarar or Mudiswarar (Lord of the crown) appear as Shivalinga in the main sanctum. Rajagopuram, Bali Peetam, Nandhi, and the Main Sanctum (Sivalokanathar) aligned in the same axis. There is no flagpost at the entrance. The niches, at the entrance, the positions of the shrines of Vinayaka and Muruga are interchanged. Lord Nataraja appears in a separate shrine. The prime sanctum is connected to the ardhamandapa and ornate four pillared mukhamanadapa. 

The entrance between the mukhamandapa and mahamandapa is flanked by two free standing heavily ornamented Dwarapalakas with peaceful appearances: Thinda on your left and Munda on your right. The pushpa palakai is loacted at the rear end of mahamandpa wall is meant for flower garland making. The mahamandapa also houses the Chola style idols of Saints: Tirugnanasambandhar, Appar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar. The mahamandapa is attached with 18 pillared open mandapa.  

The east facing vimana of the prime deity is  made out of granite substructure (from adishtana to prastara) and brick super-structure (hara, griva and shikara) studded with with stucco images. The external walls of the vimana has upana, jagadi, tri-patta kumuda mouldings and can be termed as simple  Padabandha adhishtana. The pada of the vimana and ardhamandapa have five deeply cut niches flanked by ornate pilasters. The niches on the south and north ardhamandapa walls houses the Chola style idols of Vinayaka and Durga respectively.

The southern vimana wall houses the sanctum of the unique Chola period Lord Rishaba Dakshinamurthy appear seated on His Rishaba Bull vahana (mount) on a hill instead of under the Kallala tree (Banyan tree). Sthanaka Vishnu appear in the niche of the western vimana wall. Brahma appear in the niche of the northern vimana wall.

The east facing shrine of Goddess Soundaryanayaki aka Kanarkuzhali, the consort of the presiding deity, is located on the left side of the prime sanctum. Like the main sanctum this also  built with granite and the super structure (hikara, griva and stupi) with brick and mortar. Goddess Soundaryanayaki appear in a standing posture. The niches are bereft of any deities / sculptures.

The shrine of Lord Muruga appears behind the prime sanctum. The Lord's left hand shows Narasa mudra and right had abhaya mudra. Navagriha shine is located just before the Durga.  There is a separate shrine for Aiyanar. The seven Sapta Matrika idols and the Yoga Guru (Virabhadra) are arranged in a row at the north corridor. Also there is the unique Pallava Durga idol.

Tirumundeeswaram is the 51st shrine  glorified by Devaram hymn (தேவார பாடல் பெற்ற தலம்) and the 19th among the 22 Shiva shrines of nadu nadu canonized by Devaram.  The Lord is revered by the Devaram hymns of Thirunavukkarasar aka Appar. 

Saptamatrika & Yoga Guru
Durgai (Pallava)

Dakshinamurthi (Parantaka I)

Parantaka Chola I (முதலாம் பராந்தக சோழன்) (907 - 955 A.D.) further extended  the Chola territory founded by Vijayalaya Chola (விஜயாலய சோழன்) and Aditya Chola I (முதலாம் ஆதித்த சோழன்). He earned the title 'Mathirai konda Koparakesari' (மதிரைகொண்ட கோப்பரகேசரி) at the third year of his rule (910 A.D.) after invading Maravarman Rajsimha II 's (இரண்டாம் மாறவர்மன் இராஜசிம்மன்) Pandya kingdom and capturing its capital city 'Madurai.'  After loosing the first battle, Maravarman Rajsimha II sought the help of Ilam (ஈழம்) (Sri Lanka) king and an Ilam army under the command of Chakka Senapati (சக்க சேனாபதி) came to Tamilakam to support Pandya. Parantaka I at the eighth year of his rule (915 A.D) defeated the combined army of Pandya and Ilam in Vellore (வேலூர்) by Parantaka's generals Pazhuvettaraiyar (பழுவேட்டரையர்) and Kandan Amudanaar (கந்தன் அமுதனார்). This victory earned Parantaka the title Parantaka got a title - 'Maduraiyum Eezhamum Konda Kopparakesari' ( "மதிரையும் ஈழமும் கொண்ட கோப்பரகேசரி") as well as usurping more Pandya regions to Chola territory.

The Chola dynasty received support from many local kings and feudatories. During the reign of Parantaka Chola I Pazhuvettaraiyar (பழுவேட்டரையர்) and Kodumbalur Velir (கொடும்பாளூர் வேளிர்) extended their support to the Chola king.  Pazhyvettaraiyars have their origin from kerala. They also made their presence in the heartland of Chola i.e, Kila-Paluvur (கீழப்பழுவூர்) and Mela-Paluvur (மேலப்பழுவூர்), in the Udaiyarpalayam taluk of the Tiruchirapalli district and managed to survive in very high ranks in the Chola kingdom.

Parantaka Chola I had numerous wives, among whom no fewer than eleven come out in the inscriptions: three of them were from Paluvettaraiyars' daughters -  Udaiya Pirattiyar Kokkilan Adigal (உடைய பிராட்டியார் கோகிலன் அடிகள்) daughter of the Chera king Rama Varma of Kulasekara dynasty; Arumoli Nangai (அருள்மொழி நங்கை), the daughter of another Chera king Paluvettaraiyar Kandan Amuthan, who ruled from west Paluvur of the present Tirutchirappalli in Tamil Nadu bordering Kerala; Villavan Mathevi (வில்லவன் மாதேவி) probably the daughter of the Venad King (வேநாட்டு அரசர்) of the Chera country. Parantaka I had four sons i.e., Rajaditya Chola (இராஜாதித்ய சோழன்), Kandaraditya Chola (கண்டராதித்ய சோழன்), Arikulakesari aka Arinjaya Chola (அரிகுலகேசரி என்ற அரிஞ்சயன்) and Uttamasseeli Chola (உத்தமசீலி சோழன் ). The Parantaka had Rajaditya, elder son and Kandaraditya second son by Udaiya Pirattiyar Kokkilan Adigal and Arikulakesari aka Arinjayan, the third son by Arulmoli Nangai.

Vijayaraghavadeva (A.R. No. 169 of 1912), believed as the Chera contemporary of Parantaka Chola I, is considered as the successor of Sthanu-Ravi the friend and ally of Aditya I (S.I.I., Vol. III, No. 89).

The Krishna II (இரண்டாம் கிருஷ்ணன்) (878–914 A.D.) Rashtrakuta king married his daughter to Adiya Chola I (870–907 A.D.). Aditya Chola I had his son Kannaradeva (கன்னரதேவா) aka Krishna III (மூன்றாம் கிருஷ்ணன்) by Rashtrakuta princess. After the demise of Aditya Chola I, Parantaka Chola I ascended the Chola throne in 907 A.D. instead of Kannaradeva, the grandson of Krishna II, the half-brother of Parantaka I. Rashtrakuta king Krishna II decided to force the issue of his grandson and therefore waged a war against Parantaka Chola I with the support of his feudatory allies i.e., Banas and Vaidumbas. However Parantaka I thwarted Krishna II and his allies in a pitched battle at Vallala aka Tiruvallam (presently located at Vellore district) some time between 911 - 912 A.D. The invaders fled back to Rashtrakuta court and influenced Kannaradeva aka Krishna III to wage a war against Parantaka Chola I.

The situation increased responsibility of increasing the defence at the north-west gateway (வடமேற்கு எல்லை). The demise of Parantaka Chola I 's loyal vassal Ganga Pritvipati II (கங்க அரசன் இரண்டாம் ப்ரிதிவி) in 940 A.D. has also weakened the defence in the north-west gateway. The Rashtrakuta army under the command of Krishna III mounted attacks into the north-west gateway and its contiguous territories between 940 and 949 A.D. However Parantaka Chola I was very much conscious about the repercussions and made his defence preparedness against emergency situations.  At Mudiyur (முடியூர்) aka Mouli Gramam in Tirumunaipadi Nadu he maintained a strong army garrison (படைவீடு) under the command of his elder son Rajaditaya Chola. The army was stationed in the forms of local garrisons and in cantonments called Kadagams (கடகம்). He was ably supported by his brother Arikulakesari aka Arinjaya Chola. The arrangements served its purposes for a quite a number of years.

Vallabhan Kumaran (வல்லபன் குமரன்) aka Vellan Kumaran (வெள்ளான் குமரன்) or Vellankumaran (வெள்ளாங்குமரன்) was the son of Rajasekharan, the first king (feudator) of Valluvanadu as well as the Governor of Vallabha Rashtra under Chera king. There are inscriptions on king Rajasekharan. From incriptions it is learned that Vellan Kumaran was the native of Nandikkaraiputtur in Chera country (present Kerala). He also served as the general of the Chola Prince Rajaditya.

It was in 949 A.D. Krishna III invaded and received the support of his brother-in-law and his Western Ganga feudatory Butuga II (இரண்டாம் பூதுகன்) in this battle. Rajaditya faced the Rashtrakuta army and the decisive battle was fought at Takkolam (தக்கோலம்), small town located 14 km south-west of present Arakkonam town. It was well contested battle and the Chola cause suffered mainly on account of a chance arrow shot by Butuga having fatally wounded Rajaditya.  Atagur (a place near Mandya taluk, Mysore ditrict, Karnataka) inscriptions of Krishna III and Butuga II (இரண்டாம் பூதுகன்) serve a an important source telling how the Chola prince was treacherously murdered. Krishna III asumed the title of the conqueror of  'Kanchi and Tanjore.'

The inscriptions of Tiruvorriyur provides the narration about Vallabhan Kumaran, who was feeling guilty for his failure in saving the life of the Chola prince in Takkolam war. As a result he decided to renounce his worldly life and assumed the ascetic order. This Vallabhan Kumaran was known as Chaturana Pandithar (சதுரான பண்டிதர்)

E-stamping (2)

E-stamping (1)
From the 9th to 16th century CE, the temple was under the patronage of successive prominent South Indian dynasties such as the Rashtrakutas, the Gangas, the Cholas, the Hoysalas and the  Vijayanagara rulers.

Plenty of  Parantaka Chola I inscriptions are found in  Sivalokanatha Temple complex. 

  1. A 23rd regnal year inscription on the southern wall of the vimana of Sivalokanatha records the gift of 90 sheeps for a perpetual lamp by Tirumunaipadi Nattar. (S.I.I No. 180 of 1906).
  2. Another 24th year regnal year inscription of the same Chola ruler on the western wall of the vimana registers a sale of land to the temple of Sivalokanatha (S.I.I No. 181 of 1906).
  3. Paranthaka Chola I 29th regnal year  inscription (S.I.I No. 182 of 1906) on the southern wall of of the vimana of Sivalokanatha  records about the provision made for burning perpetual lamp in the temple of  mulasthanattu-Mahadeva of Sri-Arruttali at Tirumudiyur by Kari Piraman (காரி பிரமன்), a servant of prince Rajadittadevar.
  4. Some other 29th regnal year inscription of Paranthaka Chola I (S.I.I No. 183 of 1906) on the southern wall of the vimana enters a gift  of gold for burning a perpetual lamp in the temple of mulasthanattu-Mahadeva of Sri-Arruttali from the interest by a person and his name is not comprehensible from the inscription.
  5. Yet another 29th regnal year inscription of  Mathiraikonda kopparakesari (Paranthaka Chola I) (S.I.I No. 183 of 1906) on the western wall of the vimana registers the gift of gold coin made by one Somadi (சோமாடி) and to light a perpetual lamp in the temple of  mulasthanattu-Mahadeva of Sri-Arruttali at Tirumudiyur from the 'Polisai' (பொலிசை) aka interest periodically accumulated over time. The bhttars of Adhanur (ஆதனூர் பட்டர் ) were made responsible for supplying one 'uzhakku' ghee (உழக்கு நெய்) to the temple.
  6. One Vellan Kumaran, a native of Nandikkaraiputtur, Chera country, gifted sheeps for lighting a perpetual lamp in the temple when he was staying in this temple as the general of the Chola Prince Rajaditya.
  7. Another 31st regnal year (938 A.D.)  inscription of Parantaka I records the gift of copper bell stand to the temple of Sri-Arruttali-Perumanadigal  by some army men of Prince Rajaditya.
  8. The 32nd regnal year (939 A.D.)  inscription of Parantaka I records the gifts of gold and paddy made by Prince Rajadityadeva to Sri-Arruttali-Mahadeva at Tirumudiyur through the bhattars of Tiruvennainallur and Adhanur (திருவெண்ணைநல்லூர் மற்றும் ஆதனூர் பட்டர்கள்). 
  9. One 35th regnal year (942 A.D.) incomplete  inscription (S.I.I No. 185 of 1906) of Parantaka I records the gift of utensils to be used during worship in the temple of Sri-Arruttali-Perumanadigal Probably by some army men of Prince Rajaditya.
  10. Another 35th regnal year (942 A.D.) incomplete inscription (S.I.I No. 187 of 1906)  of Parantaka I records the gift of utensils used during worship in the temple of Sri-Arruttali-Perumanadigal probably by some army men of prince Rajaditya
  11. Yet another 35th regnal year (942 A.D. ) damaged inscription (S.I.I No. 186 of 1906)  of Parantaka I registers the gift of a village tax-free made by the prince Rajadityadeva (probably with the specified income fixed as paddy and gold) for the disbursals of worship in the main shrine of the temple of Sri -Arruttali at Mudiyur.
  12. One more 35th regnal year (942 A.D. )  inscription of Parantaka I  registers the land endowment made made by one Kovadi Udayar from Brahmapuri Nallurkandam in Mazhanadu for light two perpetual lamps to Sri-Arruttali-mulasthanattu-Perumanadigal at Tirumudiyur.
  13. The 36th regnal year (943 A.D.) bilingual inscription of Parantaka I on the northern wall of the vimana includes 15 lines in Sanskrit grantha language and 23 lines in Tamil language. This inscription informs about Vellan Kumaran, a native of Nandikkaraiputtur, Chera country,  who built the granite temple of Sri-Arruttali-Perumanadigal at Mudiyur. Vellan Kumaran occupied an important position (மூலப்பிரித்தியர்) in Chola government and general of the Chola army.
  14. The 39th regnal year (946 A.D.) unfinished inscription (S.I.I No. 192 of 1906)   of Parantaka I  mentions of  prince Rajadittadevar and the temple of Sriyarruttali-Perumal
  15. One more 41st regnal year (948 A.D.) inscription of Parakesarivarman who took Madurai and Ilam (Parantaka Chola I)  (S.I.I No. 184 of 1906) records the gift of sheep for burning a lamp in the temple of Sri-Arruttali Mahadeva at Tirumudiyur by Madevan Visameli, a resident of Kurramangalam in Mangala-nadu. 
E-stamping (3)
Krishna III aka Kannara (r.939 – 967 A.D.) was the last powerful and efficient king of the Rashtrakutas.  He held titles such as Akalavarsha, Maharajadhiraja, Parameshvara, Paramamaheshvara, Shri Prithvivallabha etc. This dexterous military campaigner  played a vital role in rebuilding the Rashtrakuta Empire. He defeated  Parantaka Chola I at Takkolam.

Three inscriptions of Krishna III were copied from this temple. The 20th regnal year (959 A.D.) inscription of Krishna III (Kannaradeva) registers the gift of sheeps for lighting perpetual lamp. Another 22nd regnal year (961 A.D.) incomplete inscription of Kannaradeva is not clear. Yet another 25th regnal year (964 A.D.) inscription of Kannaradeva registers the gift made by Sri Sundar Tiruvoyan, the king of Vaidumba.
E-stamping (4): C.Veeraraghavan sir

The 4th regnal year inscription of Chola prince Aditya Karikalan aka Aditya II, the eldest son of Sundara Chola and the brother of Rajaraja Chola I, registers the gift made for burning the perpetual lamp. The 16th regnal year inscription of Rajendra Chola I informs this village as brahmadeyam of Mudiyur-nadu  (a subdivision) of Tirumunaipadi Nadu in Jayangonda-Solamandalam. The fourth regnal year inscription of Rajendra Chola II records the tax-free land grant made by the citizens of Kosapadi village made to the temple of Sri-Arruttali-Mahadeva in Parantaka chaturvedhi-mangalam of Mutiyur-nadu (a subdivision) of Tirumunaipadi Nadu in Jayangonda-Solamandalam. The 10th regnal year inscription of Rajendra Chola II records the perpetual lamp gift made to Sri-Arruttali-Mahadeva in Parantaka chaturvedhi-mangalam by Sathi Periyan.

The fourth regnal year inscription of Kulotunga Chola I registers the decision of the sabha of Parantaka chaturvedhi-mangalam, of Mutiyur-nadu (a subdivision) of Tirumunaipadi Nadu in Jayangonda-Solamandalam, to allow one Bhattanpuvan (பட்டன்பூவன்), after rechristening him as Parantaka Peraraiyan (பராந்தகப் பேரரையன்) to live in Ur Nattam (ஊர் நத்தம்) after receiving 20 kasu (coins) from him.

This is incised immediately below No. 190 and gives no introduction to the king. The 10th regnal year inscription (S.I.I. no. 190A of 1906) of Kulotunga Chola II records a gift of 72 sheep for burning “three fourth” of a perpetual lamp in the temple of Sri Arruttali-Mahadeva by Selvan Pallikondan alias Rajaraja-Periyaraiyan a kudippalli (farmer) of Sevalaimedu in Kaliyur-kottam a division of Jayagondasola mandalam to atone for the death of Madani Kulatturan of the village, caused by him [unconsciously?]. 

The 16th regnal year inscription (S.I.I. no. 188 of 1906) of Kulotunga Chola II records a gift of “there fourth” of a perpetual lamp to the to the temple of Sri Arruttali-Mahadeva at Parantaka-chaturvedimangalam (Gramam) by one periyan Kanavadi of salur in Mangala-nadu of Vanagappadi a division of Rajendrasola-valanadu in expiation of his having shot by mistake (while hunting) a resident of Enadimangalam (name not clear). 

The third regnal year inscription of Rajaraja II registers that the lands belonging to temple Sri Arruttali-Aludaiyar in Kulotunga Chola Chaturvedhi-mangalam of Mutiyur-nadu were exempted from tax by one Anabhaya Kadavarayan aka Mohan Alapiranthan from Padikaval.

Three inscriptions of Jatavarma Sundarapandya I were copied from this temple:

The 15th regnal Year (1265-66 A.D.) inscription (S.I.I. no. 197 of 1906) of Jatavarma Sundarapandya I  on the west and south wall of the Selvambika Shrine begins with the prasasti Samasta-jagad-adhara etc. The inscription, damaged in places, registers another endowment by the king of 9 ½ veli of land, free of all taxes, for the expenses of the service instituted in the temple of Bokkanankuduttaruliya-Nayanar (பொக்கனங் கொடுத்தருளின நாயனார்) in the name of the ruling king by Vira-Pandya. Also refers about land grants made during the time of Kopperunjingadeva.  

The 18th regnal Year (A.D. 1268-69) inscription (S.I.I. no. 196 of 1906) of Jatavarma Sundarapandya I on the south wall of the Selvambika Shrine begins with the Sanskrit prasasti of the king, Samastajagad-adhara etc. The record is damaged. It appears to register an endowment of land made by the king expenses of worship and offerings to the deity of the day of a special festival instituted in his name, and for the formation of a garden where the god was to be taken in procession on such occasions. Provision is also made for the daily supply of 200 lotus flowers to the temple and of 2000 lilies on festival days by the grant of 2-¼ veli of land to one Vikrama-pandyan alias Sri Mulasthana-Velan for the purpose. The god is called Sriyarruttali Mulasthanam-Udaiyar Bokkanankuduttaruliya-Nayanar (பொக்கனங் கொடுத்தருளின நாயனார்).

The 19th regnal Year (A.D. 1269-70) inscription (S.I.I. no. 198 of 1906) of Jatavarma Sundarapandya I on the north and west walls of the Selvambika Shrine begins with the Sanskrit prasasti of the king,  Samastajagad-adhara etc. It is damaged in the middle portion. It registers another endowment of land tax-exemption by the king. However, the extent of the land and the purpose of the gift are missing. Out of this land one veli was to be set apart as jivita for Vikrama-Pandyan alias Sri Mulasthana-velan (mentioned in No. 196 above) for a (further) daily supply of 1200 lotus flowers to the temple.  

  1. Ancient Indian History and Civilization ed.2. By Sailendra Nath Sen. New Delhi, New Age International Publishers, 1988. pp. 479 - 480.
  2. Chronological history of Malabar: Ancient political history of Malappuram, Valluvanad. ( )
  3. Treasures of Chola Empire in Cauvery Delta: Veera Narayana 'Veeranam' Lake. Prasannasankar. Jul 19th, 2015 in (
  4. Lecture on the temple by Dr. Padmavathi Anaiappan,  retired Senior Epigraphist, Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department, Chennai. 
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