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1,100-year-old Chola stone inscription found

By T.S. Subramanian

Chennai Dec. 30. A 1,100-year-old stone inscription of the Parantaka Chola period has been discovered at a Siva temple at Ezhuchur, near Padappai, in Sriperumbudur taluk of Kancheepuram district, 56 km from here. The inscription, datable to 920 A.D., is in Tamil. It was found in the door jamb of the temple which is called Nal-Inakkisvarar (Deity of Good Harmony). The temple is in a highly dilapidated condition now.

According to Dr. T. Satyamurthy, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (Chennai Circle), the inscription records the gift of solid gold by the local headman called Nocci Kilan Kaliya Peruman of the village named Velima Nallur of Velima Nallur-Nadu.

The inscription says that Nocci Kilan Kaliya Peruman gave the gold (``pon'' in Tamil) to ``nattar'' to build (``thali'') the temple. The Nattar formed the administrative body of Velima Nallur-Nadu. A ``nadu'' was a geographical division. From the inscription, it was inferred that the present village Ezhuchur was called Velima Nallur in those days and it served as the headquarters of the Nadu of the same name.

Dr. S. Rajavelu, Epigraphist, ASI, said the inscription is datable to the reign of Koparakesari Panmar, identified on palaeographical grounds with Parantaka Chola-I. The inscription is dated to his 13th regnal year, which corresponds to 920 A.D.

Interestingly, the inscription says that if the ``nattar'' failed to construct the temple, they should pay a certain amount of gold (``manchadi pon'') as fine to the then king. The inscription reveals that Velima Nallur-Nadu came under ``Uttrukkadu Kottam''. A ``kottam'' was a bigger geographical division than ``nadu.''

According to Dr. Rajavelu, ``nattar'' were ``vellalars'' (agriculturists). Most of them owned vast lands. Another inscription too was found as a door jamb in the same temple but its letters have faded out.

According to K. Krishnakumar, who belongs to Ezhuchur and is trying to rebuild the ruined Nal-Inakkisvarar temple, there was a copper epigraph which said that King Narasimha of Vijayanagara gifted Ezhuchur village in 1429 A.D. to the 54th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Mahadeva Saraswati. The inscription was in Nandinagari characters and was composed in Sanskrit. The donee Swami is described as one seeking ``moksha'' (liberation), as one whose body is smeared with ``bhasma'' (holy ash), adorned with garlands of ``rudraksha'' and so on.

This copper inscription said that King Veeranarasimha, seated on a jewelled throne on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, gifted Ezhuchur and Venpakakam to Sri Mahadeva Saraswati. Several sarcophagi had been found at Ezhuchur, testifying that it had an ancient history, said Krishnakumar.

The Padappai region, where Ezhuchur is situated, lay on the highway leading from Kancheepuram to the eastern coast in those days of the early/Imperial Cholas and the Pallavas. That area was then studded with many temples and Brahmanical settlements, Dr. Satyamurthy said. These temples, belonging to the early Chola period or the Pallavas, are found at Manimangalam, Mattur, Eraiyur, Vallam and so on.

The Manimangalam area was important because the early Cholas were penetrating deep into the Thondaimandalam (Coromandel) at that time. The Vallam village near Padappai has a Siva temple, originally belonging to the Pallava period, which was evidenced on the basis of a sculptural representation of Somaskanda, the favourite deity of the Pallavas.

Manimangalam, near Ezhuchur, is historically important in another sense. K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, in his book ``A History of South India (From Prehistoric Times to the Fall of Vijayanagar)'', says, ``The Chalukya King Pulakesin's ambition prompted him to undertake another expedition against the Pallavas in the hope of achieving more decisive results. Mahendravarman quit the stage and his son Narasimma Varman-I Mahamallan (630 - 68) had begun his rule ... But Narasimha Varman defeated the Chalukyas in several battles, including the one at Manimangalam, about 20 miles to the east of Kancheepuram.''

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