Showing posts with label Bana Dynasty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bana Dynasty. Show all posts

Monday, May 2, 2016

Gudimallam Parasurameswara Temple: Most Ancient Shiva Lingam in the World

Shiva Lingam @ Parasurameshwara Temple

Gudimallam (குடிமல்லம்), a freaky village located in Yerpedu Mandal (எர்பேடு மண்டல்), Chittur (சித்தூர்) district, Andhra Pradesh state, India Pin Code 517526. Gudimallam village should not be confused with Mallam (Pithapuram) village in Pithapuram Mandal, East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh or with Mallam (Nellore) village, Chittamur Mandal, SPSR Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh.

The geographical Coordinates of Gudimallam are 13° 60' 1" North (latitude), 79° 57' 0" East (longitude) It is located on a diversion from the Tiruchanur (திருச்சானூர்) road at a distance of 18.9 km from Tirupathi (திருப்பதி) and 8.7 km from Renigunta (ரேணிகுண்டா) Jn. railway station; 82 km towards East from District head quarters Chittoor (சித்தூர்).  It is 10.4 km from Yerpedu (எர்பேடு), 25 km from Pallam (பள்ளம்) and 438.5 km from State capital Hyderabad (ஹைதராபாத்). Renigunta (8.3 km), Tirupathi (20.8 km), Srikalahasti (ஸ்ரீ காளஹஸ்தி) (21.6 km,) Narayanavanam (நாராயணவனம்) (20,1 km), Puttur (புத்தூர்) (17.8 km) are the nearby railway stations. From Chennai (சென்னை) the village is 95.6 km away. The other state capitals are Pondicherry (பாண்டிச்சேரி) 186.7 km and Bangalore (பெங்களூர்) 228.3 km. Buses to Gudimallam village are available from Tirupati Bus Stand and the frequency is less on this route. However you will get auto-rickshaws from Renigunta Jn. railway station and the to and fro trip may cost around Rs. 250/- The Gudimallam village has the population of 2071 of which 1025 are males while 1046 are females as per Population Census 2011.

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Gudimallam Gateway
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Gudimallam Temple Prakaram
The curling muddy road will be leading along the Swarnamukhi river bank, and its dry Swarnammukhi river bed, picturesque paddy fields towards Gudimallam village. The age old temple stands amidst paddy fields. The tall gateway appear without any tower. The temple usually appear deserted except occasional visitors. 


Historically, Gudimallam village is significant since it is the home for the ancient  Parasurameswara (பரசுராமேஷ்வரா) (Shiva) Temple. The temple is protected by ASI since from 1954 and according to some learned sources the Parasurameshwara temple has a 2200 year old history as the longest continuously worshiped Shiva temple (சிவன் கோவில்) in the world. The centuries-old prime sanctum is built with brick super-structure (hara, griva and shikara) studded with stucco images (சுதை உருவங்கள்) and the granite substructure (from adishtana to prastara) and the plinth of the vimana has prativaribanda adhistana (பிரதிவரிபந்த அதிஷடானம்) with the components of upana (உபானம்), jagadi (ஜகதி), vritta (round) kumuda  (உருள்குமுதம்) mouldings. The external walls are segmented by pilasters (அரைத்தூண்கள்) and carry niches (கோஷ்டங்கள்) housing the images of Ganesha, Vishnu and Brahma.  The upper tala (தளம்) (storey) built with brick and lime mortar carries hara with apsidal sala shikata (கஜபிருஷ்ட சால சிகரம்). Three metal stupis (finials) crowning the shikara of the vimana.

The vimana over prime sanctum has an apsidal shape i.e., gaja prishta vimana (கஜபிருஷ்ட விமானம்) meaning 'back of an elephant' due to its structural design. The apsidal vimana of Parasurameswara is hollow inside  and the vimana is named as Lingakriti (லிங்கக்ருதி) vimana since the elevation of the vimana resembles the shape of the Shiva Lingam. The sanctum has a false ceiling over wooden joists. Gaja prishta vimanas, in general can be seen in many Chola built temples around Chennai and its suburbs. This east facing sanctum is enclosed all around externally by a peristylar cloister (திருச்சுற்று மண்டபம்) and the entrance to the sanctum is through the south side of the mahamandapa.

A separate shrine for goddess is located at north west corner of the temple. Also there are shrines for minor for parivara devatas (associate deities) like Kartikeya (Subramanya) and Suryanarayana. The temple sanctums are enclosed by tall perimeter wall around the periphery with towerless gateway from the west.

It is believed that the bana and the peeta were under the tree. Successive rulers i.e., Pallavas, Cholas, Banas and Vijayanagara kings augmented the structures. The apsidal shaped sanctum could be the most ancient part of this temple since sanctum flooring is much lower than the floorings of antarala and mukhamandapam.  

The excavations carried by ASI (former director of ASI Dr.I.K.Sarma) during 1973 has retrieved black and redware sherds (date) assignable to 2nd - 3rd century A.D. The potsherds and the large size bricks (42 x 21 x 6 cm) retrieved from the site made the scholar to assign the temple to Satavahana  (சாதவாகனர்கள்) period. ASI prefers to call it the earliest extant Shiva Lingam in India.

Iconography - Shiva Linga

The prime deity seven sided monolithic Shiva Lingam (Savedika Linga), measuring about five feet (1.35 meter) in height and one feet in diameter is housed in the prime sanctum. The Shiva Lingam is believed to be the manifestation of the Hindu Trinity; Brahma manifests at the bottom; Vishnu at the mid-part and Shiva on top. The Shiva Lingam depicts the tall and wide bana. The Linga is openly set up within the square base. The square base is surrounded by a low three barred railings on slabs and the top railings found damaged and now replaced with new slabs during renovation. The bana and the peeta alone are considered as the most ancient form and all the remaining structural augmentations are later additions by rulers of various dynasties.  

It is interesting to find a deep slanting groove cut about one floor from top of the bana. Within the groove the sculptors have carefully sculpted the high relief image of a hunter! The hunter exhibits perfect anatomical proportions and his torso resembles the shape of a bull's head. The image is well built with broad shoulders, narrow hips, tight buttocks and toned abdominal muscles. He is radiating an abundance of vitality and energy. The hunter stands in sthanaka posture and spreading his legs wide apart and his feet are firmly planted on the shoulders of Amarapurusha (crouching dwarf yaksha). His face is peaceful and serene, if not smiling.The two armed idol exhibits both hands keep hanging loosely. His right hand holds the dead goat by the hind legs and his left hand also holds a globular pot and it also clutches the long thick battle axe (parasu) (கோடாரி) at its handle. The fierce weapon also rests on his left shoulder. According to some scholars the image of the hunter represents 'Vedic (வேதகால) and proto puranic (புராண காலத்திற்கு முந்தைய) concepts of Rudra (உருத்திரன்).' 

His hair is arranged like jatabhara 'burden of braids' characterized by large number of penetential plaits worn in a bunch. His elongated ear-lobes wear heavier ring shaped kundalas. Elongated ear lobes have become a sign of power, nobility and wealth. His neck is adorned with sarapali (most elaborate neck jewelry) around his neck; armlets with keyura / tholvalai (ornament around arms) on his shoulder-arms; elbow with kangana (elbow jewelry - bracelets of beads on each wrist (thick usually 3 – 5 strings) on his elbow; wrists with kataka valai / bangles in the wrists; rib cage with udarabandha - broad ornamental belt below the ribs; and thin garment worn around the waist are generously pleated and also wears beaded katibandha (hip belt) around the waist. Unusually the hunter has no yagnopavitha. 

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The dwarf / Amarapurusha
The Amarapurusha seen seated on his knee and his body appear shrunken. His face show tight teeths - may be he is finding it difficult to balance the weight of the super Lord. His ears appear like leaves.


Gudimallam temple legend speaks about puranic tale about Sage Parasurama. The sage beheaded his mother at the behest of his father. He sought advice of his guru the ways and means to relinquish his sin of killing one’s own mother. He was advised to pursue and locate the Shiva Lingam and observe penance as a remedial measures. 

Sage Parasurama, after much pursuit, located Gudimallam Shiva Lingam and dug a pond nearby to observe penance. The sage noticed the blossoming of single holy flower everyday at the pond and he submitted the flower at the feet of Gudimallam Shiva Lingam. To protect the Lingam from external beasts, he assigned the task of guarding the flower with Chitrasena (சித்திரசேனை), a yakshi (celestial servant). The yakshi received toddy and the hunted animal from Parasurama as a reward for her guarding duty. One day Chitrasena offered the holy flower from the pond to Lord Shiva. Parasurama got enraged by the yakshi's act and attacked her with his axe. Chitrasena also retaliated severe blow. The fight prolonged for 14 years and finally a pit formed nearby. From then on wards the temple was known as 'Gudipallam' or temple at the pit. Over the period the temple name changed as 'Gudimallam.'


Number of inscriptions have been identified on the inner walls of the Parasurameshwara Temple and also over stone slabs in the courtyard of the temple. Many of the inscribed records speak of the perpetual gifts made by several rulers and these  have been assigned to the rulers of Ganga Pallavas, Pallavas, Cholas and Bana dynasty. 

The most ancient inscription of the Parasurameshwara temple is assignable to twenty-third regnal year of Nandivarma Pallava III and datable to 802 A.D.  An inscription dated in twenty-fourth reganl year of Nrpatungavarman records the donation from Vanavidyadhara-Mahabali Vanaraya.  In the 49th regnal year inscription of Dantivarman (778 - 829 A.D.) speaks about the grant was to Gudimallam (no. 226 of 1903) when the Bana king Vijayaditya I, (796 - 835 AD.) son of Jayanandivarman served vassal / feudatary of Dantivarma Pallvan. The geneology of Banas of the Perumbanappadi is furnished by the Gudimallam and Udayendiram plates. The latest inscription at the temple is assignable to Yadava Devaraya (AD. 1346). Gudimallam (as well as Kolar) served as the capital of Bana dynasty. An inscription of the time of Vikrama Chola refers to a complete rebuilding of the temple in 1126 AD., along with flat gopura and the wall. Surprisingly none of these inscriptions refer the village name as ‘Gudimallam.’ However the village is referred to as ‘Viprapita’ i.e., ‘Brahmana Agrahara’ and Lord Shiva represented as fierce hunter. 

Temple Timings: The temple is open from 06.00 am to 08.00 pm

  1. Gudimallam (Wikipedia)
  2. Gudimallam. Papanaidupeta, Kalahasti, Tirupathi .(
  3. Gudimallam Linga - Satavahana Style. (
  4. Mysterious saga of a 2,200 year old lingam. ( 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Heritage Trail: Thiruvallam, Melpadi, Mahendravadi and Pullalur 2

Facade of Somanathesvara Temple, Melpadi

Melpadi (மேல்பாடி), a quaint village (Latitude 13.04538 and 79.25931 Longitude) with a salubrious climate and picturesque landscape of paddy field, is on the Tiruvalam – Poigai road and located in Sholinghur taluk, Vellore district (வேலூர் மாவட்டம்), Tamil Nadu Pin Code 632520. The hamlet is part of Melpadi Panchayat and as per census 2011 it has a population of 5767 (around 1374 families). It is a fascinating village with a quiet and calm ambiance, surrounded by the Ponnai river, vivid green paddy fields, thick shady trees with wonderful views. It means shade is never far from human. Since it is on the western bank of Ponnai near the Palar River, people including 2,666 workers in this village are engaged in agriculture and cultivation of paddy and peanut. 

During the 10th century this village was  a buffer region between the Chola and Chalukya dynasties. Melpadi alias Rajasrayapuram (இராஜஸ்ரையபுரம்), under Pallava reign, was forming part of  Tunadu town (தூய்நாடு என்ற துநாடு), of Perumbana-padi nadu (பெரும்பாணப்பாடி நாடு) (a subdivision) of Jayankonda Cholamandalam (ஜெயங்கொண்ட சோழமண்டலம்)  (a district). The Karhad plates (கர்கட் செப்பேடுகள்) of the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III (Ep. Ind. Vol. IV. P. 281.) marks the antiquity Melpadi and reports about the camping Rashtrakuta king Krishna III (இராஷ்டிரகூட அரசன் மூன்றாம் கிருஷ்ணன்) at Melpadi (மேல்பாடி) in 959 AD. The nearby Vallimalai (வள்ளிமலை) hill was known for Jain temple.
Melpadi, (Mel = West; Padi = Military Garrison) surrounded by Vallimalai mountains, served as the North West Garrison of Chola to guard the military attacks by Chalukyas (சாளுக்கியர்கள்), Rashtarkutas (இராஷ்டிரகூடர்கள்) and  other rulers. Similarly Tiruvorriyur (திருவொற்றியூர்) (near Chennai) also served as North East Garrison.

There are two temples in Melpadi 1. Somanathesvara Temple (சோமநாதேஸ்வரர் கோவில்) and 2. Cholesvara Temple (சோழேஸ்வரர் கோவில்). The ancient name of the Cholesvara temple was Arinjigai-Isvara (அரிஞ்சிகை ஈஸ்வரம்) (S.I.I. vol III, pt I  Nos. 15 - 16) or Arinjisvara (அரிஞ்சீஸ்வரம்) (S.I.I. vol III, pt I  Nos. 17 - 18).

Somanathesvara Temple 

Somanathesvara Temple (சோமநாதீஸ்வரர் கோவில்) is close to the bank of the Ponnai river (பொன்னை நதி). Inscriptions cite this temple as "Cholendrasinga Isvaramutaiya Mahadevar Temple" (சோழேந்திரசிங்க ஈஸ்வரமுடைய மகாதேவர் கோவில்).  The huge temple complex includes main sanctum of Soamanathesvara, mukha mandapa, maha mandapa, shobana  mandapa and the sanctum for consort Tapaskrudha Devi (தபஸ்கிருதா தேவி), and the cloister mandapa (திருச்சுற்று மாளிகை). The mukha mandapa,  maha mandapa, and the mandapa at the south could have added by Rajaraja Chola III. 

The mukha mandapa is supported vratta sthamba (round pillars) (உருளை வடிவத் தூண்கள்). The cloister mandapa (திருச்சுற்று மாளிகை) is one of the attractive ruins of this temple and structures on the south, west and east corridors have only dilapidated platforms and the northern structure has platform and pillars. The Chola style marriage hall aka Kalyana mandapa (கல்யாண மண்டபம்) is the ornate pillared pavilion with a raised central platform. The Vijayanagara style Unjal mandapa (ஊஞ்சல் மண்டபம்) is very attractive structure.  

Vimana: Shikara + Griva

The imposing 20 feet perimeter walls (சுற்று மதில்) built using granite boulders, brick and mortar enclose temple complex. The three tier main gopuram (மூன்றடுக்குக் கோபுரம்) at the entrance could have remained unfinished for a number of years and the present three tier turret could be the later addition. There is another three tier (மூன்றடுக்குக் கோபுரம்) temple tower at the entrance of the inner corridor.

Vesara Vimana (கற்றளி)
The present east facing main sanctum of the Somanathesvara is a Chola structure of the 10th century. The Vesara Vimana (வேசர விமானம்) of the prime deity is made up of granite structure (கற்றளி) from upa-peeta to stupi. It has a circular sikhara above the griva and four nandhi images are placed in cardinal directions (நாற்கர நந்தி). It stands on a molded pada-bandha adishtana (பாதபந்த அதிஷ்டானா) with upa-peeta (உப பீடம்), jagadi (ஜகதி), tripatta kumuda (முப்பட்டைக் குமுதம்), khanta (கண்டம்) and a vyala-vari (யாளி - வியாள வரி) at the kodungai (கொடுங்கை).

The external wall surface is divided by pilasters (அரைத்தூண்கள்) in to well shaped ornate niches (தேவகோட்டங்கள்) with incomplete 'makara torana' (மகர தோரணம்). The sculptures in the niches include Vinayaka, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga and these are later additions:


Vinayaka: Edampuri Vinayagar (இடம்புரி விநாயகர்) (the trunk in the left side) appear standing in the niche on the south wall and the hind hands holding pasa (பாசம்) (noose) and mazhu (மழு) (a weapon) and fore-hands holding broken tusk and mothaka (sweet dish) மோதகம் (கொழுக்கட்டை) .

On the southern wall is found the figure of Dakshinamurti (தட்சிணாமூர்த்தி). He is seated in utkutika posture on apasmarapurusha. This deity holds rosary (akshamala) (அக்மாலை) in the upper right hand, snake in the upper left, keeps the lower right in vyakhyana mudra (வியாக்யான முத்திரை) and the left hand broken. He wears jatamakuta (ஜடாமகுடம்). pendants on the ears, a graiveyaka of beads, yagnopavita and a girdle with naga buckle. Four sages attends on him.


On the back wall of the sanctum sanctorum in the Koshta is found the figure of sthanaka Vishnu (நின்றகோல விஷ்ணு). He has four arms carrying conch (sankha) and discus wheel (chakra) the other two in abhaya and varada mudras. He wears karanda makuta (கரண்ட மகுடம்), sarapali (சரப்பளி) in the neck and yagnopavita on his chest. The piece of cloth deftly wrapped around his waist in panchakacham (பஞ்சகச்சம்) fashion.


The Koshta at the northern wall of the sanctum sanctorum houses the figure of Brahma (பிரம்மா (நான்முகன்). This deity holds rosary (akshamala) in the upper right hard, water-jug (kendi) (கெண்டி) in the upper left, keeps the lower right in abhaya mudra (அபய முத்திரை) and the left hand in kadiya mudra (கடிய முத்திரை). The four headed deity wears jatamakuta, sarapali in the neck, yagnopavita on the chest, udara bandha (உதர பந்தம்), kati bandha (கடி பந்தம்), tandai (தண்டை) in anklets. The piece of cloth deftly wrapped around his waist in panchakacham (பஞ்சகச்சம்) fashion.

The next koshta houses the goddess Vishnu Durga (விஷ்ணு துர்க்கை). The goddess holds discuss in the upper right hard, Chanka (conch) in the upper left, keeps the lower right in abhaya mudra and the left hand in kadiya mudra. She wears karanda makuta, and appear standing on the bovine head. 

On both sides of the entrance to the main sanctum, there are two tall, robust Dwarapalakas (துவாரபாலகர்கள்) with bulky physique,  bulging eyes (முட்டைக் கண்கள்), bushy eyebrows (அடர்ந்த புருவம்), protruding curved sharp canine teeth (நீண்ட கூறிய கோரைப்பற்கள்), and appear in a standing position holding the club downward. The Dwarapalaka on your left side wears patra and makara kundalas in his ears; sarapali in his neck; broad belt or udara bandha wrapped around his  stomach and kati bandha wrapped around his waist; and  tandai worn in his ankles. His right hand shows darjani hasta mudra (தர்ஜனி ஹஸ்த முத்திரை) and the left hand rests on the club handle; the left leg rests on the ground and right leg laid on the club.

The Dwarapalaka on your right rests his right hand and left leg on the club while his left hand shows vismaya hasta mudra (விஸ்மய ஹஸ்த முத்திரை) and the right leg rests on the ground. He wears makara kundala, yagnopavita on the chest and tandai in his ankles. The jatamakuta bears lion motif. The yagnopavita,  worn by the two Dwarapalakas, is the plaited human hair pieces known as 'Panchavadi' (பஞ்சவடி).  According Lakulisa Pasupata iconography (லகுலிச பாசுபத சிற்ப சாஸ்திரம்), Lord Shiva wears Panchavadi in place of yagnopavita. 

Goddess Tapaskrutha Devi (தபஸ்கிருதா தேவி) appears in a separate east facing sanctum at the north-east corner of the temple. The presence Vijayanagara inscription (விஜயநகர் அரசர்கள் காலக் கல்வெட்டு) at the kumuda (குமுதம்) suggests that it could have been added at a later date and most probably during Vijayanagara rule.

Tapaskrutha Devi Sanctum
The Dravida  vimana (திராவிட விமானம்) is a combination of granite sub-structure and brick super-structure. The adishtana (அதிஷ்டானம்) include elements like upa-peeta (உப-பீடம்), jagadi (ஜகதி), tripatta kumuda (முப்பட்டைக் குமுதம்), khanta (கண்டம்) and pattika (பட்டிகை). The outer wall of the vimana is divided by pilasters (அரைத் தூண்கள்) in to simple niches (தேவகோட்டங்கள்) and remain without any deities.

The cloister mandapa (திருச்சுற்று மாளிகை) in the north is open and extends from goddess shrine and  leads to Navagriha shrine (நவகிரக சன்னதி ).
Sculptures: Kankalanatha, Gangadhar, Rishabanthika, Bhairava, Sapta Matrika

The hall at the south eastern corridor show cases the amazing sculptures of Kankalanatha (கங்களநாதர்) (the Conqueror of Time and Death), Gangadharamurti (கங்காதரமூர்த்தி), Rishabanthikamurti (ரிஷபாந்திகமுர்த்தி), Bhairava (பைரவர்), Surya (சூரியன்), Naga Ygnopavita Vinayaka (நாக யக்ஞோபவித  விநாயகர்), Ayyanar (அய்யனார்), Saptamatrikas (seven mothers) (சப்தமாத்ரிகைகள் (ஏழு கன்னிமார்) flanked by Virapathira (வீரபத்திரர்) (a ferocious form of Lord Shiva) on the left and the Vinayaka on the right.

Kankalanathar (one of the variants of Lord Bhairava - a form of Lord Shiva) deity is unique and appears with the skeleton. Kankalanatha is one of the aspects of Lord Bhairava, a for of Lord Shiva and the others being Brahmashiraschedaka-murti (பிரம்ம சிரச்சேதமூர்த்தி) and Bhikshatana-murti (பிக்ஷாடன மூர்த்தி) - known for seeking alms. The Kankala-murti  iconography  is quite similar to Bhikshatana-murti and the subtle difference is that Bhikshatana is nude but Kankala-murti is clothed. The 'followers of the Bhairava-tantra' are Kapalikas (கபாலிகர்கள் ) and they follow Soma Siddhanta (சோமசித்தாந்திகள்) (the philosophy of the Kapalika sect of Saivism).

Gangadharamurti: Sthanaka Gangadharamurti is the form of Shiva carrying Goddess Ganga (கங்கை) on his head. The upper right hand holds trihul, the upper left hand is broken, the lower left hand rests on the shoulders of consort  and the lower right hand shows akshaya varada mudra. The Lord wears the Jatamakuta, sarapali, yagnopavita on the chest, udara bandha on the upper stomach. A piece of clothe drapes his waist. The consort's right hand embraces the Lord, the left hand holds the flower, the hair is plaited and tied as a bun, sarapali in the neck, and the piece of clothe drapes around her waist.

Rishabanthikamurti:  Sthanaka Rishabanthikamurti is another form of Shiva.  The upper right hand holds trihul, the upper left hand holds the serpent, the lower left hand rests on the shoulders of consort  and the lower right hand holds the flower. The Lord wears the Jatamudi, sarapali, yagnopavita on the chest, udara bandha on the upper stomach. A piece of clothe drapes his waist. The consort's right hand embraces the Lord, the left hand holds the flower and the piece of clothe drapes around her waist.

Bhairava: Sthanaka Bhairava  (The Wrathful) is the "terrifying" or fearful aspect of Lord Shiva. He is often depicted with frowning, angry eyes and sharp, tiger's teeth and flaming hair. The upper right hand holds damaru (small drum), the upper left hand holds the pasa (noose), the lower left hand holds the skull (kapala)  and the lower right hand holds the trishul. The Lord wears the jatabaram, sarapali, yagnopavita runs up to thigh, wears serpent around the waist. Also wears tandai in the anklets.

Surya (Sun God): Sthanaka Surya holds lotus in both of his hands. He wears jatamakuta, makara kundala in the ears, sarapali in the neck, yagnopavita on the chest and tandai in the anklets.

Ygnopavita Vinayaka: Lord appear seated by folding the left leg. The upper right hand holds mazhu,, the upper left hand holds the angusa, the lower left hand holds the kapota  and the lower right hand holds the broken tusk.

Ayyanar: Ayyanar, the folk deity of Tamil Nadu, appear seated and wearing a meditation band. The right hand holds the flower bunch, the left knee raised and the left wrist or elbow of the left arm resting atop the knee. The right leg is resting on the peeta. The Lord wears Jatamuti, kundala in the ears, sarapali in the neck and yagnopavita in the chest.

Virabhadra: Sthanaka Virabhadra the powerful warrior created by the wrath of Rudra (Shiva) to spiflicate the velvi (fire rituals) of Daksha, a demon. The upper right hand holds mazhu,, the upper left hand holds the trishula, the lower left hand holds the water jug  and the lower right hand holds the rosary. The Lord wears pathra kundala in one ear and makara kundala in another ear. Also wears sarapali in the neck, yagnopavita in the chest, udara bandha in the stomach. A piece clothe is draped around his waist.

Saptamatrikas (seven mothers) were created from the energies of  Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesvara, Kumara, Varaha, Indra and Yama and hence they are always depicted as a heptad. They also represent  the seven  energies  or saktis of the important familiar deities such as Brahmani (Saraswati), Mahesvari (Raudani) Kaumari (Karttikeyani), Vaishnavi (Lakshmi) Varahi, Indrani and, Chamunda (Chamundi). The group of seven goddesses was derived from the gods that were considered important during the Gupta period. The Agama canons specify the way in which the goddesses should be sculpted. They appear seated on a peeta in Lalitasana posture and the legs are resting on the lotus peeta. Brahmani sculpted like Brahma; Mahesvari like Mahesvara; Vaishnavi like Vishnu; Varahi with angry face and holding the plough as weapon and appear like Varaha; Indrani like Indra;

The Agama literature gives a brief description of these goddesses : that Brahmani should be sclupted like Brahma; Mahesvari like Mahesvara; Vaishnavi like Vishnu; Varahi as a short woman with an angry face and bearing a plough as her weapon; Indrani like Indra; Kaumari like Kumara (Muruga) and Chamundi as a terrific goddess like Chamunda. Saptamatrikas are always flanked by Virabhadra on the left and the Vinayaka on the right. 

Next Part: Melpadi Arinjigai-Isvara (அரிஞ்சிகை ஈஸ்வரம்) and Inscriptions

Friday, September 4, 2015

Heritage Trail: Thiruvallam, Melpadi, Mahendravadi and Pullalur 1

Tiruvallam Vilvanaeeswarar Temple Facade
Aadi Perukku (18th Day of Tamil month Aadi - (mid-July to mid-August)) is an important day for Hindus as well as Ponniyin Selvan Group (Facebook Group). The group organized a meeting on 08th August 2015 from 03.00 - 6.00 pm at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, No. 18/20/22, East Mada Street, Mylapore, Chennai, India. An exceptional talk by artist Shri Maniam Selvan, on his father's immortal sketches and the talk by Dr. (Smt).A.Padmavathy, the scholar and epigraphy expert on Imperial Cholas delighted the chosen audience.

On 9th August 2015 Ponniyin Selvan Group (Facebook Group) organized an "One day trip to Thakkolam, Mahendravadi, Melpadi and Thiruvalam! . It was well planned and accommodated a bunch of 25 people.   We couldn't cover on Thakkolam during our trip. We started around 6:30 am from Sri Balaji Temple, Venkatnarayana Road  and reached back Chennai by 7:30 pm. 

Transport: Two 12 seat Tempo Travellor
Total travel time : 13.00 Hours
Travel on road: 07.00 Hours
Distance Covered: 258 Km
Breakfast before Ranipettai: 0.30 Hours
Lunch at Mahendravadi: 0.30 Hours
Tea break @ NH4: 0.30 Hours
Maintenance: Tyre puncture before Ranipettai.

ooo ooo ooo

Thiruvalam or Tiruvallam (திருவலம் அல்லது  திருவல்லம்), a historical urban village (Latitude 13.001 and 79.245 Longitude) and the ancient Shiva temple here brings the Pallava, Bana and Chola history to life. It is located in Katpadi taluk (காட்பாடி வட்டம்), Vellore district (வேலூர் மாவட்டம்), Tamil Nadu Pin Code 632520. The urban village is part of Thiruvalam Town Panchayat and as per census 2011 it has a population of 9,153 and 84.50 % literacy rate. Since it is on the western bank of Ponnai River, people in this village make their living through agriculture and other small scale and cottage industries.

During the 10th century this village was a buffer region between the Chola and Chalukya dynasties. Tiruvallam alias Vanapuram alias Tikkali Vallam, under Bana kingdom, was forming part of part of   Perumbanappadi (a subdivision) of Jayankonda Cholamandalam  (a district). Tiruvallam is approximately 123 km from Chennai and 45 km from Kanchipuram, 8 km from Ranipettai. If you are coming by bus from Chennai, alight at Muthukadai bus stop and take another bus going to Chittoor. You will find the iron bridge built (by British Indian government) on the Niva river. After passing this bridge you will find the temple on your left.

Tiruvallam was the gateway to the north-west of the Chola imperium. The historical province was known as Tondaimandalam. which included the northernmost part of Tamil Nadu. Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan of Vanar clan was the chieftain of Vallavaraiyarnadu, the feudatory under Rajaraja Chola I and the chieftain was married to Kundavai, the elder sister of Rajaraja Chola I. The Lord of Tiruvallam is being linked with this chieftain without any valid evidence.

It has been written numerous times about Dhanurmadhyambigai Sametha Sri Vilvanadeeswarar Temple in several blogs. Therefore I don't wish to repeat certain information. But,let me quote some interesting facts here (that I have learned from various sources).

Prime Deity : Vilvanadeeswarar (வில்வநாதீஸ்வரர்), Vallanathar (வல்லநாதர்).
Goddess : Dhanur Madhyambal (வில்லிடை நாயகி !), Vallambikai (வல்லாம்பிகை).
Holy Tree: Vilva Tree (Aegle marmelos) (வில்வமரம்)
Holy water  : Gowri Tirth (கௌரி தீர்த்தம்), Niva River (நீவா நதி)
Glorified by : Tirugnanasambandar Devaram First Tirumurai Part 3 Pathikam 113.
Address : Sri Vilvanadeeswarar Temple, Tiruvalam Post, Via Ranipettai, Katpadi taluk, Vellore district - 632515
Temple Timings : 07.00 – 12.00 am ; 05.00 – 08.30 pm
Phone : 0416-2236491
Unique feature : Two Prime deity shrines, Two goddesses shrines, Two Flagstaff, three Nandhis placed in the same axis and facing away from Lord, Adhikara Nandhi Facing the Lord. The temple complex as seen today, like numerous others, is a product of many centuries of evolution, with different parts being added at different periods in history.

Ornate Stone Bowl with Danseuse
Lord Vilvanadeeswara (Shiva), the presiding deity of the temple is enshrined as Shivalingam in the east facing main sanctum of this temple. There is a small ardhamandapam in front of this sanctum which leads to pillared maha - mandapam in front. Opposite this sanctum there are three Nandhi images appear facing the entrance before the flag staff i.e, a granite Nandhi (appears to be the original), a huge stucco Nandhi image and another granite Nandhi image (latest addition) appear facing the circumambulation path. The flagstaff and balipeetam are also located before the Lord in the outer corridor. Adhikara Nandhi (bull-head human standing on two legs) facing the Lord is located in between stucco and granite nandhis.

PC Mohan Hariharan
The vimana is made out of granite substructure (from adishtana to prastara) and brick super-structure (hara, griva and shikara) studded with with stucco images. The outer walls of the vimana has simple Padabandha adhishtana with the components of upana, jagadi, tri-patta kumuda moulding.  The pada portion of the vimana has slit-niches (koshtas) between elegantly carved pillars.  The outer wall of Vilvanadeesvara sanctum has the beautiful idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurthy, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, and Chandikeswara. The upper tala (Storey) built with bricks carries a hara with octagonal sikhara. There is a metal stupi to crown the Sikhara of the Vimana. The main sanctum also houses few Chola bronze idols of Chandrasekhar, Bikshatana, and Nayanmars (inner corridor).
PC Velu Chamy
The fierce Dwarapalakas, on each side before the sanctum are looking with bulging eyes, protruding curved sharp canine teeth, bushy eyebrows. The yagnopavita (sacred cord) runs across their chest and ornamented with  sarapali; kati-bandha jeweled waist band; naga-bandha armlets and anklets.The Dwarapalaka on the right of the Lord Shiva shows visvaya mudra i.e, raising the right hand index finger meaning that ‘God is one' and the left hand holds the mace.  His upper right hands holds a club and the left hand raised above head. The Dwarapalaka on the left shows the darjani mudra i.e, the left hand index finger towards the Lord directing the devotee to have his mind set on the Lord. He stands erect and his right leg raised and kept on the mace as if resting. The two sculptures are breathtakingly real and artistic. There are many other sub-shrines for Brahma, Vishnu, Chandikeswarar and Nagar (Serpent) in the inner circumambulation path. The stone images as well as bronze images of 63 Nayanmars are arranged in a separate enclosure. 

There are stucco images for the 27 natal stars with their names written in Tamil are located on the vimanam of the sanctum. It is believed that appropriate prayer to the natal star image would relieve the individual from malefic effects of the planets on transit.

Goddess  Dhanur madhyambal alias Dhanur Madhyambikai aka Theekali Ambal (தீக்காலி  அம்பாள்) appear in a separate east facing sanctum on the left side . It is learned that the goddess appeared with fierce (ugram) face and Adi Sankaracharya pacified her and from then onwards she appears peaceful and graceful. Dhanur means bow and the waist of the goddess is curved and resembles the bow (வில்லிடை நாயகி). The Dravidian style vimana of Dhanur madhyambal also has the granite sub - structure and brick super - structure. The niches in the outer walls of the vimana house the sub-shrine deities (பரிவார தேவதைகள்) of Vinayagar, Annapoorani and Durga.

Adi Vilvanadha
Pillared Mandapam
There are also sub-shrines for Shivalingams in the form of Kasi Viswanathar, Chandramouleeswarar, Annamalaiyar, Sadhasivam,  Anandha, Neelakhanta, Ambikeswara, and Vinayaka who obtained fruit (கனி வாங்கிய விநாயகர்) as well as main shrines for Adhi Vilvanathar and Sundareshwara and Meenakshi in the middle corridor (prakaram). The 100 pillared Natarajar mandapam (நடராஜர் மண்டபம்)  amply supported by ornate pillars. The legend of Nandhi protecting the village from demon Kanjan is depicted on the pillar faces as bas relief images.

Goddess Shrine
Nandhi (stucco)
The Gowri Tirth (with neerazhi madapam (நீராழி மண்டபம்) at the center), the holy water source and the Ambikeswar  shrine are situated in the outer corridor (prakaram) of the temple. The vilva tree (Aegle marmelos) (வில்வமரம்) is the holy tree (sthala vriksham) of this shrine.

The tall south facing five tier rajagopuram adorning the entrance to the temple, and visible from afar, has fine stucco sculptures of themes from Saivite mythology on it. Also there is a second level three tier gopuram. This temple complex extending up to five acres are is surrounded by high perimeter walls.

Thiruvallam is one the 274 Shiva temples praised in Devaram hymns and it is the 10th of the 32 Devara Stalams in the Thondai Nadu. Sambandar's patikam honors this shrine, while Appar has referred to this shrine in a patikam.

எரித்தவன் முப்புரம் எரியின் மூழ்கத் 
தரித்தவன் கங்கையைத் தாழ்சடைமேல்
விரித்தவன் வேதங்கள் வேறு வேறு
தெரித்தவன் உறைவிடம் திருவல்லமே.

கற்றவர் திருவல்லம் கண்டுசென்று
நற்றமிழ் ஞானசம் பந்தன்சொன்ன
குற்றமில் செந்தமிழ் கூறவல்லார்
பற்றுவர் ஈசன்பொற் பாதங்களே.
                                                                      -- திருஞானசம்பந்தர்

Saint Mounaswami stayed in this shrine and cured the illness of people with holy ashes and vilva leaves. The temple was consecrated by him from the donations received from public.

Festivals: Full moon nights are considered to be special here. The annual Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Maasi. Shivaratri, The Float Festival, Navartri, Thai Poosam are the festivals of significance here.


The inscriptions of Tiruvallam relate to Pallava, Bana, Vaidumba, Ganga and Chola dynasties. The Banas claimed as descent of Mahabali - the demon and his son Bana. The Banas humbly state that they were appointed as the door keepers by god Paramesvara. The geneology of Banas of the Perumbanappadi is furnished by the Gudimallam and Udayendiram plates.   Parigipura aka Parivi, the traditional capital of these Banas in the Hindupur Taluk of the Anantapur district, may be said to be the nucleus of their kingdom, from which they spread towards each  from north and south, the country they thus occupied. Bana emblem was black buck represented in their banner, and the crest was the bull.

The earliest mention of the Banas in authentic historical records is in the middle of the fourth century AD, and as the feudatories of the Satavahana and early Pallavas. The Banas were opposed by their neighboring dynasties and they served some major dynasties such as the Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas as feudatories, after sometimes they were subjugated by them. Tondai Nadu was one such neighboring country.  The inscriptions refer this region as one of the kurrams (divisions) of Tondai Nadu i.e, part of Paduvur kurram.

Perumbanappadi (Bana kingdom) was large piece of land located to the west of extended Vadugavali Merku.  The Perumbanappadi was bound by Srisailam and Kolar in the west, Kalahasti in the east, and the Palar river in the south.  Perumbanappadi included the modern regions such as Kolar, Anantapur, Chittur districts as well as Taluks of  Gudiyattam, Vaniyambadi, Arakkonam, in Vellore district of Tamilnadu. The inscriptions and copper plates of Chalukyas, Telugu Cholas, Gangas and Kadamba mention Perumbanappadi in different names. Tiruvallam aka Vanapuram, a town was located in the southern territory of Perumbanappadi, was its capital.  Perumbanappadi was forming part of Tondai Mandalam (north - west portions) during Pallavas and Jayakonda Chola Mandalam during Cholas.

The Bana Dynasty also ruled Andhramandala bound by Kalahasti in the west and Palar in the south and included the North Arcot district (an old name to the district in Tamilnadu) as well as Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh. The Bana king, Vadhuvallaba Malladeva Nandivarman in 338 AD.

The Bana Dynasty also ruled Baikula Nadu during early 7th century forming part of  modern Chittor, Ananthapur and Cuddapah districts. They had affiliation with Imperial Cholas. Nellore was added later to this region. Gudimallam alias Vanapuram  near  Kalahasti and Nandagiri also served as their capitals. 

Bana Kings

  • Jayanandivarman (770 - 795 AD.)Nandivarman or Jayanandivarman should have received this name as being a feudatory of Nandivarman Pallavamalla. From an inscription dated in the 62nd regnal year of Nandivikra mavarman we learn that the Pallava king of that name had an unnamed Mavali-Vanaraya as his feudatory. The Bana king Jayanandivarman  assisted his Pallava Suzerain Nandivarman II Pallavamalla against Gangas and was rewarded for his loyalty by the assignment of some territory of the Gangas.  
  • Vijayaditya I, (796 - 835 AD.) Son of Jayanandivarman:  We have little information. He was a feudatory of Pallava Dantivarman. In the Gudimallam inscriptions 3 dated in the 49th regnal year of Dantivarman (778 - 829 A.D.) a Bana chief, Vijayaditya Mahavali Vanaraya is said to be a feudatory of Dantivarman.
  • Malladeva, (835 - 850 AD.), Son of Vijayaditya I: Malladeva was conferred with the title Jagadekamalla, Vadhiivallabha and Nandivarman, expanded the Bana power at the expense of the Telugu Cholas in the north.
  • Bana Vidhyadhara, son of Malladeva (Married a grand-daughter of the Ganga King Siva maharaja, who reigned between 1000 and 1016AD)
  • Prabhumerudeva, son of Banavidhyadhara
  • Vikramaditya I, Son of Prabhumerudeva: He was also a Pallava feudatory, entered into a matrimonial alliance with the Gangas. He married Kundavai, the daughter of Ganga king Prtivipati I, who was a contemporary of the Rastrakuta king Amoghavarsa I and of the Pandya king Varagunas.
  • Vikramaditya II or Pugalvippavar-Ganda, Son of Vikramaditya I
  • Vijayabahu Vikramaditya II, Son of Vikramaditya II
  • Aragalur udaiya Ponparappinan Rajaraja devan alias Magadesan (Magadai Mandalam chief) of Aragalur

There was big trial of strength between Banas, Vaidumbas and Ganga Pritivipati I on one side, and the Nolambas, Telugu Cholas and Rajamalla I on the other. The Banas were the prime movers and who entered into matrimonial alliance with Pritivipati I whose daughter Kundavai was married to prince Vikramaditya I. Vaidumbas captured parts of Renadu and Banas captured the capital of Telugu Chola. They wanted to dislodge Ganga Rajamalla I and bequeath it to Pritivipati I and they could not succeed in their attempt. Instead Rajamalla I invaded with Bana country and advanced up to Vallimalai near Tiruvallam.

In the beginning of 10th century AD. between 909 and 916 AD. the Banas were conquered by Parantaka Chola I and were thus deprived of their kingdom. The Ganga king, Pritivipati II was conferred the title "Lord of the Banas" by Parantaka Chola I after he defeated the Banas.

After this the Banas were subsequently found ruling various parts, such as Nellore, Guntur and Anantapur, as Chieftains in medieval Andhra.


Some very rare and interesting inscriptions dating from Pallava, Ganga Pallava, Bana kings to Rajaraja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I, Kulotunga Chola I, Kulotunga Chola III, Rajaraja Chola III,  as well as Pandya king Virapandya and Vijayakanta Gopala have been found in the Vilvanadeeswara temple at Tiruvallam. (ARE 300, 301, 302, 303, 304 of 1897).  

The inscriptions call the Vilvanathesvara temple : 1. Vanapuran (வாணபுரம்) (S.I.I.,Vol III, No. 42, Pages 91) during the period of Nandivarma Pallava II (793 AD.); 2. Paramesvara at Tikkali Vallam (தீக்காலி வல்லமுடைய பரமேஸ்வரர்) (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 43, Pages 93) during the reign of Nandivarma Pallava III (863 AD.); 3. Tiruttikkali-Perumanadigal of Tikkali-Vallam (திருத்தீக்காலிப் பெருமானடிகள்) (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 44, Pages 95) during  the reign of Mahavali Vanaraja (Vikramaditya I) (888 AD.); 4.  Tiruttikkali-Alvar (திருத்தீக்காலி ஆழ்வார்) (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 49, Pages 102) during the reign of Rajaraja I (991 AD.); 5. Tikkali-Vallam (தீக்காலி வல்லம்) (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 49, Pages 102) during the reign of Rajaraja Chola I (991 AD.); 6. Tiruvallam-Udaiyar (திருவல்லமுடையார்) (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 53, Pages 108) during the reign of Rajendra Chola II (1015 AD.); 7. Mahadeva of Tiruvallam  (திருவல்லமுடைய மகாதேவர்) (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 55, Pages 175.) during the reign of Vikrama Chola (1123 AD.); 8. Nayanar of Tiruvallam (திருவல்லமுடைய நாயனார்) (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 62, Pages 122 & 123) during the reign of Kulotunga Chola III (1212 AD.).  It contained shrines of Kalyanasundara and Karumanikka, and of their goddesses (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 57).

Many of the inscriptions of this temple indicate that Tiruvallam seems to be the capital of Bana country and Bana dynasty. (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 46, 51, 52, 55, 56, 58 to 60). The alternative name indicated as Vanapuram (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 42, 51 and 53).  Some other inscriptions pronounce "Tikkali-Vallam" (S.I.I. Vol III, Nos. 43to 45, 47 to 49, 54 and 61) as an ancient name of Tiruvallam.

Perumbanappadi was the nadu (district) of Banas i.e, 'the great Bana country.' There is a tiny village by name Vanasamudram exists in the neighbourhood Tiruvallam. Also there is a village Banavaram found near Sholingur in Arakonam Taluk of Vellore district in Tamil Nadu.

The early inscriptions accommodate Tiruvallam within Miyaru-nadu (S.I.I. Vol III, Nos. 43 to 45, 49 and 54) or Miyarainadu (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 52) and some other inscriptions accommodate it under
Karaivali (sub-division) of Perumbanappadi  (S.I.I. Vol III, Nos. 53, 55, 56, 58 and 59).

Tiruvallam was forming part of  Jayankonda-Chola-mandalam (province) (S.I.I. Vol III, Nos. 53 to 56, 58 and 59) and Tyagabharana-valanadu (division) (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 55) Paduvur-kottam (district)  (S.I.I. Vol III, Nos.43, 44, 49, 51 to 54).

The whole Chola Imperium was bifurcated into provinces or mandalams and the Chola princes were nominated to govern the provinces. Further the provinces were sub-divided into valanadus or kottams (divisions) (வளநாடு), nadus (districts) (நாடு) or Taniyur (தனியூர்) and kurrams (villages). The towns and villages mentioned in the inscriptions include: 1. Alinganapakkam in (the district of) Urrukkattu-kottam in the province Tondaimandalam; 2. Vannipedu belonged to Karai-nadu, a subdivision of the district of Paduvur-kottam (Vannipedu, alias Ranavikrama-chaturvedimangalam, in Karai-nadu, (a subdivision) of Paduvur-kottam,);  3.  Ettukkur, a hamlet on the north-east of Kavirippakkam, alias Kavdippakkam Avaninarayana-chaturvedimangalam situated in Paduvur-kottam; 4. Ponpadukuttam, a tax-paying village (near) Kachchippedu, i.e., Kanchipuram; 5. Naratunga-chaturvedimangalam in Karai-nadu, (a subdivision) of Paduvur-kottam. 

Village was the basic unit of administration. The villages were mainly of three types. 1. Ur was the general assembly of the village where local residents discussed their matters without any formal rule or procedure; The Ur constituted of an intercaste population where the land was held by all classes of people and paid taxes to the king in the form of land revenue. It was the most frequent type. 2.  Brahmadeya or agrahara villages were granted to the Brahmins and was entirely inhabited by them. 3. Devadana was the village granted to god. They were exempted from tax and were prosperous. The revenues from these villages were donated to a temple. During Cholas the Devadana type of villages gained more popularity as the temples became the centres of life.

The Chola pattern of government was based more or less on democratic principles and most of the business was carried on by the village assemblies.  Chola officers participated in village affairs more as advisers and observers than as administrators. The assembly of Tikkali-Vallam in Miyaru-nadu, (a subdivision) of Paduvur-kottam, (a district) of Jayankonda-Sola-mandalam was held responsible for the entire responsibility of the village administration. This body participated by the selected few and elders of the village possessed absolute authority over the affairs of villages and the temple. They maintained law and order in the village. It wielded a great authority in the administration of the village and the temple.

The names of Chola government officers mentioned in Tiruvallam inscription include: 1. Kaduptti - Tamila-Perarayan (official),  copyist for Videlvidugu Kadupati-Tamila-Perarayan; 2. Irayiravan Pallavarayan, alias Uttama-Sola-Pallavaraiyan, 3. Perundaram (higher official of Chola HQ) of the Lord Sri-Rajendra-Chola deva (and) the lord of Araisur in Pambuni-kurram, (a district) of Nittavinoda-valanadu, 4. Samkaran Kandaradittanar, alias the Senapati Rajaraja-Soliyavaraiyar, the Lord of Inganur in Inganadu, (a district) of Arumolideva-valanadu, (a military officer).

Siva-Brahmanas were in charge of the shrine (sthana) of the temple while Devakanmis were the administrator in the temple. Shiva Brahmanas are priests who performed pooja rituals in Tiruvallam temple during Chola period: 1. Kausiha-Nagama-Bhattan, a Siva-Brahmana was in charge of the shrine (sthana) of the temple of Tiruvallam-udaiyar at Tiruvallam, a brahmadeya in Karaivali, (a subdivision) of Perumbanappadi, (a division) of Tyagabharana-valanadu, (a district) of Jayankonda-Sola-mandalam; 2. Gangadhara-Bhattan, Akkaa-Bhattan, Sivakkolundu-Bhattan, Sikkali-Bhattan, Rudra-Bhattan, Vikkiramadittan, Tirumapperan and the other (persons) in charge of the store-room of the temple, 3. Chandesvaradeva, the first servant of (the god) Mahadeva (of the temple) of Tiruvallam.

All the charities mentioned in the inscriptions were placed under the protection of Mahesvaras, the Chola government official took part in the sabha proceedings. 

Weights and Measurements

Inscriptions also mention about weights and measures that deal with gifts of land and produce to temples. The Chola system used to measure land was in Kuzhi (11 cents ?) and the area decided by one standard rod length and rod width (Adavallan Kol). Maa (33 cents ?) comprise three Kuzhi. Veli (660 cents or 6.6 acres) includes 20 Maa. One Kani = 8.25 cents.

Rice was measured in Nazhi (Padi) (1. 344 lit. (2 Uri / 4 Uzhakku / 8 aazhakku).

Paddy was measured in Marakkal (Kuruni) (10. 752 lit. (8 nazhi / 16 uri / 32 uzhakku / 64 aazhakku), two marakkal made one Pathakku ( 21.504 lit. (2 kuruni / 16 nazhi / 32 uri / 64 uzhakku /128 aazhakku); six marakkal one Kalam (86.016 lit (3 kalam / 6 pathakku / 12 kuruni / 96 nazhi / 192 uri / 384 uzhakku / 768 aazhakku); 12 marakkal one Podhi; 21 marakkal one Kottai. Kadi was used another measurement unit.

Oil and ghee were measured in Azhakku (0168 ml); Uzhakku (336 ml); Uri (672 ml - 2 Uzhakku / 4 aazhakku).

Gold gifts expressed in weighing units such as Kalanju. Kundrimani (Abrus precatorius) and  Manjadi (Adenanthera pavonina) are very consistent in weight. Ancient Tamils  used both the seeds as units of weight to weigh gold using a measure called kunrimani seed (0.133 gm) and manjadi seed (approximately 0.266 gm). Twenty manjadis or  forty kundrimanis made one Kalanju (5.320 gm or approximately 1.5 sovereign). Thirty manjadis or sixty kundrimanis made one sovereign or poun weighing 7.98 gm. 
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  1. An inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 42, Pages 91) records the gift of land by a goldsmith to the temple at Vanapuram (‘the town of the Banas,’ seems to have been the residence of the Bana chief and have been situated closed to Tiruvallam) with the approval of the king Mahavalivanaraya mentions: "Om. Obeisance to Siva! Hail! Prosperity! In the sixty-second year (of the reign) of king Vijaya-Nandivikramavarman, while the glorious Mavalivanaraya, - born from the family of Mahabali, who had been made door-keeper by the lord of gods and demons, Paramesvara (Siva), who is worshipped in all the three worlds,- was ruling the Vadugavali twelve-thousand.  I, Aridhiran, the son of Madan, a goldsmith (and resident) of a house in the east of Alinganapakkam in (the district of) Urrukkattu-kottam, caused to be renewed the Vada-sigara-koyil at Vanapuram and gave to it the patti  (called) Alinjirkalam, (which I had) bought from Manradi, the son of Ilangilavar."
  2. Another Inscription (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 43, Pages 93) 17th year of the reign of Vijaya-Nandivikramavarman records the grant of three villages to the temple at the request of the Bana king Vikramaditya.  
  3. The Devaram hymns, are cited in the inscriptions as Tiruppadiyam. The much old lithic reference to the singing of Tiruppadiyam, fall out during the reign of Nandivarman III, the Pallava ruler  845 A.D. found in Tiruvallam. Inscription records that three villagers were granted to the temple at the request of the Bana king Vikramaditya Mavali Vanarayan. The three villages were clubbed together into one village, which received the new name Videlvidugu-Vikkiramaditta-chaturvedimangalam. Videlvidugu, i.e., ‘the crashing thunderbolt,’ may have been a surname of Vijaya-Nandivikramavarman. Main interest is the quoting of individual who had to sing the Tiruppadiyam i.e., the Devaram, in the temple.  Tlkkalivallam in Miyarunadu|, a subdivision of the Paduvurkottam. The members of the assembly of this Videlvidugu-Vikkiramaditta-chaturvedimangalam stipulate that the Assembly should pay 2000 kadi of paddy and twenty Kalanju of gold to the temple for the feeding of Siva Brahmans, the drum-beaters (Sribali) and other temple servants including the singers of Tirupadiyam  i.e., the Devaram as well as for perpetual lamps, anointment of idols, temple repairs, etc„ The singers of Devaram hymns were referred as Tirupadiyam Vinnapam seyvar or Pidarar from the inscriptions of Nandivarman III in the Tiruvallam Bilavaneswara temple records. Saptarishisvara temple at Lalgudi (99/1928-29) records provide particulars about the gifts provided to the singers of Devaram from Parantaka Chola I in 944 AD. Thiruverumbur temple (129/1914) records during reign of Sundara Chola (Parantaka II) also provide particulars about the Tirupppadiyam reciters. The records speak about the singers of Tiruppadiyam in Shiva temples much before the reign of Rajaraja Chola I.  The discovery of the Devaram hymns, probably under Rajaraja I, led to the Tiruppadiyam being institutionalised. It is learned that he deputed 48 pidarars and made liberal provisions for their maintenance and successors.  (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 43, Pages 93) 
  4. The inscription (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 44, Pages 95) of Mahavalivanaraya records that a Brahmana of Ettukkur near Kavirippakkam (now a City in Kaveripakkam Taluk in Vellore District) (S.I.I., Vol II. Nos. 10 to 12) paid 25 kalanju of gold to the villagers of Vannipedu (S.I.I., Vol II. Nos. 5 and 19), (now Vannivedu, a Village in Walajapet Taluk in Vellore district) who, in return, pledged themselves to supply oil to a lamp in the temple.  At the time of the inscription Vannipedu belonged to Karai-nadu, a subdivision of the district of Paduvur-kottam.  Karai-nadu owes its name to Karai, a village on the north of Ranipet. (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 44, Pages 95)
  5. The inscription (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 45) of Mahavalivanaraya records that an inhabitant of Ponpadukuttam near Kachchippedu, i.e., Kanchipuram, purchased some land from the inhabitants of Tiruvallam.  The produce of the land had to be used for providing offerings and for feeding a lamp in the temple. (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 45)
  6. The inscription (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 46) records a gift of gold for maintaining a lamp by the queen of Vanavidyadhara-Vanaraya ( this king may be identified with Vikramaditya I., the sixth of the Bana chiefs). Vanamahadevi,  the daughter of Pratipati-Araiyar and the great queen of Vanavidyadhararaya, alias Vanaraya, born from the family of Mahabali, gave to the members of the assembly of this Tikkali-Vallam twenty kalanju of pure gold for (maintaining) one perpetual lamp before (the god) Tikkali-Perumanadigal. The assembly members have agreed to supply (one) uri of ghee per day for one lamp from the  interest on this gold.  (S.I.I., Vol III, No. 46)
  7. Thiruvallam inscription records (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 49, Pages 102) that certain Madhrantakan Kandaratittan (Kandaratittan son of Madhrantaka) "while he stood in the temple observed that the offering presented to the Alvar (prime deity) were reduced to two nali of rice: the offerings of vegetables, ghee and curds had ceased and the perpetual lamps had been neglected." He summoned the 'Siva Brahmanas' of the temple and the assembly of Takkalivallam and said: 'state the revenue and expenditure of the temple in accordance with the royal order and the royal letter.' (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 49, Pages 102)  
  8. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 50) is dated in the  seventh year of the reign of king Rajaraja-Kesarivarman.  It records that a Brahmana set up an image of the goddess Uma-Bhattaraki and granted a lamp to the temple.  He also purchased 1,700 kuli of land from the inhabitants of the village of Mandiram in Tunadu and made it over to the temple authorities, who had to feed the lamp and to supply offerings from the produce of the land. Tunadu, to which Mandiram belonged, was the name of the country round Melpadi.  Mandiram had the surname Jayameru-Srikaranamangalam (11. 2 and 15 f.), which seems to be derived from Jayameru, one of the surnames of the Bana king Vikramaditya I. (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 50)
  9. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 51) is dated in the 16th year of the reign of the Chola king Rajaraja I. and records that the citizens of Vanapuram, i.e., Tiruvallam, sold 700 kuli of land by a deed of sale to Samkaradeva, the son of Tiruvaiyan, who granted it to the temple of Tiruvaiya-Isvara and for (providing) the expenses of the worship.  Tiruvaiya-Isvara temple was situated on the south of the Bilvanathesvara temple and was evidently named after Tiruvaiyan, the father of the donor. The inscription marks the four boundaries of the land  as well as the estimated measurement as seven hundred kuli  by the rod of sixteen spans. (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 51)
  10. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 52) is dated in the 20th year of the reign of the Chola king Rajaraja I. and records the gift of a lamp by Nannamaraiyar or Nannaman, the son of Tukkarai.  The donor belonged to the Vaidumba family and ruled over Ingallur-nadu, a district of Maharajapadi. For (maintaining this lamp he) gave 90 full-grown cows, which must neither die nor grow old. (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 52)
  11. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 53) is dated in the 3rd year of the reign of Parakesarivarman, alias Rajendra-Choladeva I.  It records that the inhabitants of Vanapuram, i.e. Tiruvallam, sold 1,000 kuli of land to Vaidumba Somanatha, (the son of ) Samkaradeva (Ref: S.I.I. Vol III, No. 51).  The inscription marks the four boundaries of the land as well as the estimated measurement as one thousand kuli by the rod of sixteen spans. He also granted 96 sheep for the maintenance of a lamp in the same temple.   (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 53)
  12. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 54) is dated in the 4th year of the reign of Rajendra-Chola I.  Irayiravan Pallavaraiyan, alias Uttama-Sola-Pallavaraiyan, a Perundaram of the lord Sri-Rajendra-Choladeva (and) the lord of Araisur in Pambuni-kurram, (a district) of Nittavinoda-valanadu, had built a shrine to (the god) Chandesvaradeva (of the shrine) which he called Rajarajesvara. It is apparently identical with the shrine on which the inscription is engraved.  For maintaining two lamps in this shrine, he purchased for 50 kasu from the inhabitants of Tiruvallam a piece of land (shown the four boundaries of the land) which measured 2, 000 kuli, and which received the name Araisur-Vadagai with an allusion to his native village of Araisur (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 54)
  13. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 55) is dated in the 3rd year of the reign of the Chola king Rajendra I and records that the temple authorities received 25 kalanju of gold from  Kattukkuri Madhava-Kramavittan, (one) among the commissioners who rule Aimbuni in Karaivali, (a subdivision) of Perumbanappadi, (a division) of Tyagabharana-valanadu, (a district) of Jayankonda-Sola-mandalam, under the condition that the interest should be applied for the feeding of a learned Brahmana (a Dikshita who knows the Veda and the sacred Agama) and other purposes.   The interest on 20 kalanju gold being (one) padakku of paddy per day, (measured) by the marakkal (called after) Arumolidevan, viz., three ulakku and two sevidu of paddy per day from every kalanju. The end of the inscription is lost.  (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 55)
  14. This inscription (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 56) is incomplete (of the five lines which are preserved only the two first lines are published).  It is dated in the 2nd year of the reign of Rajakesarivarman, alias Rajamahendradeva, and records a deed of sale of land. Samkaran Kandaradittanar, alias the Senapati Rajaraja-Soliyavaraiyar, the lord of Inganur in Inganadu, (a district) of Arumolideva-valanadu, (a military officer) purchased 800 kuli of land from the inhabitants of Tiruvallam and granted them to the temple. (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 56)
  15. This inscription is dated on the 200th day of the 3rd year of the reign of Parakesarivarman, alias Adhirajendradeva. Before the time of this inscription, the income of the temple had been regulated in the 8th year of the reign of “the emperor Virarajendradeva.”   
  16. Two Chola royal  officers i.e,  the magistrate (adhikarin) 1. Puran Adittadevanar, alias Rajarajendra-Muvendavelar, of Pulangudai in Purakkiliyur-nadu, (a subdivision) of Pandikulasani-valanadu, (a district) of Sola-mandalam, and the 2. Senapati Rajarajan Paranriparakshasan, alias Virasola-Ilango (probably a prince of the blood) the headman of Naarin Tiraimur-nadu, (a subdivision) of Uyyakkondar-valanadu, having met in the Gangaikonda-Solan, a mandapa on the east (of the temple) of Tirumayanam-udaiyar at Kanchipuram in Eyil-nadu, (a subdivision) of  Eyir-kottam, called for the accounts of the villages which are devadanas (of the temple) of Tiruvallam-udaiyar (Tiruvallam Temple). The magistrate Rajarajendra-Muvendavelar ordered that the revenue from the villages of Kukkanur in Tuy-nadu  and Mandiramin Tuy-nadu  should be assigned to the temple for expenses not previously provided for.  A larger committee then assembled and made allotments from this revenue for various heads of the temple expenditure. (S.I.I. Vol III, No. 57)
  17. இடம் : வடஆர்க்காடு மாவட்டம், குடியாத்தம் தாலுகா, திருவல்லம். இவ்வூர் பில்வநாதேசுவரர் கோவிலின் மகாமண்டபத்துத் தென்புறச் சுவரில் உள்ள செய்யுள் சாசனம். Place: Tiruvallam Bilvanathesvara temple south wall of maha-mandapa  South Indian Inscriptions. Volume IV  (S.I.I. Vol. IV. No. 325. )

சாசனச் செய்யுள்

ஆலத்தூ ராளி திவாகரன்தான் செய்வித்தான்
பாலொத்த வெள்ளி நாற்பதின் கழஞ்சால் - சோலைத்
திருவலத்தே யாழ்வார் திருப்பல்லிக்குச் செல்வம்
வருநலத்தான் கொள்கைதான் மற்று.

Meaning: Bilvanathesvara temple of Tiruvallam was known as Alvar Temple of Tiruvallam. One Divakaran of Alattur gifted 40 silver kazhanchu for the pooja rituals (Tirupali) of Alvar of Tiruvallam (வல்லத்துப் பில்வநாதேசுவரர் கோவில், முற்காலத்தில் திருவல்லத்து ஆழ்வார் கோயில் என்று பெயர் பெற்றிருந்தது. இக்கோவில் பூசைக்காக ஆலத்தூர் திவாகரன் என்பவர் தானம் செய்ததை இச்செய்யுள் கூறுகிறது.)  

  1. Mahalingam, T.V.  Pages 122 – 140. A.S.I Library, George Fort Complex, Chennai.
  2. Miscellaneous Inscriptions From the Tamil Country
  3. The Banas by T. N. Ramachandran, M.A., Archaeological Assistant, Madras Museum.
  4. The History of Andhra Country, 1000 A.D.-1500 A.D.  By Yashoda Devi
  5. Thiruvalam Sri Vilvanatheswarar Temple, Thiruvalam, Tamilnadu  திருவலம் அருள்மிகு திரு வில்வநாதீஸ்வரர் கோயில், திருவலம், தமிழ் நாடு  Haindava Thiruvalam ஹைந்தவ திருவலம். 
  6. Topographical List of Inscriptions in Tamilnadu and Kerala States, Volume – 1, North Arcot District.
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