Namma Madurai Madhurodhaya Eswaramudaiyar Temple cries for attention

Temples are the torchbearers of the past. ‘Madhurodhaya Eswaramudaiyar Temple’ at Kovilpatti near Vikramangalam is one such example that stands a testimony to the past Chola temple architecture.

The 1000 year-old temple has magnificently carved pillars, structures and sculptures that tell the tale of the architectural splendour that were prevalent in those days. The temple has a ‘nandi’ at the entrance besides an outer mandap, maha mandap and sanctum sanctorum. On the outer prahara, the temple has 27 pillars, which are uniquely designed with panel sculptures. Many episodes of Lord Shiva like story of Kanappa Nayanar where the lord brought out the intense devotion of the devotee are found in the walls. In one of the pillars at the entrance, Nardhana Vinayagar greets every visitor and Shivalinga on the left corner. Lord Anjaneya and flower designs adorn the pillars. At the outer prahara, Ashta Lakshmi sculptures embellish the ceiling. On the walls of maha mandap and sanctum sanctorum, sculptures of Lord Dakshinamoorthy, life-size manifestation of Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, Lord Vinayaka in standing position decorate the walls.

Outside the temple is the mandap of Lord Shiva’s consort. The structure is in a dilapidated condition and the deity is also missing. The temple has four wells around it and a beautiful tank that brims with water even during the peak of summer.

According to an archaeological source, the niches (devakhosta sculptures) are the result of influence of Chola architecture. In the Pandya architecture niches will be devoid of sculptures. Since the region was ruled by Chola monarchs, they adopted their own style in constructing the temple even in the Pandya territory.

A villager N. Jegadeesan, says that villagers are taking minimum effort to preserve the archaeological splendour. He says that many deities and structures have gone missing from the temple as there was no proper maintenance.

Name and its origin

As the temple was under geographical limitations of Madurai division, which was known as Maduraodaya Vala Nadu, the temple might have derived its name from it, the source points out.

In the inscriptions found at the temple premises belonging to later Pandya Period in 13 century A.D, there are references to the name of the temple and its lands. Similarly, the inscriptions also refer Vikramangalam as the main trade centre. One of the traders’ groups named ‘Aiyam Pozhil Nanadesi (traders from four directions) involved in trade activities with Vikramangalam as the strategic trade point. Hence, the village is also known by another name ‘Desipattanamana Aiyam Pozhil Vikrama Cholapuram.’ The suffix ‘puram’ denotes the mercantile activities connected with the place, the source adds.

Vikramangalam got another name ‘Vikrama Cholapuram’ from its ruler Vikrama Chola Pandiyan, who ruled the region in 11th century A.D.

Megalithic period

The archaeological department has also unearthed burial urns belonging to megalithic period. Besides, the village also has evidence about the presence of Jain monks in Second Century BC in the nearby caves at the hillock ‘Undaan kallu’. The hillock has Jain beds and six Tamil Brahmi inscriptions that point out the name of the persons who had carved the beds. The ‘rakipodavu’ cave at the hillock’s foothill also has a Tamil Brahmi inscription that refers to a big tank dug by the villagers of Vembattur. It has also reference to a village assembly (Ooravai) functioned in that village 2000 years ago.

Perhaps with little care and maintenance, Madhurodhaya Eswaramudaiyar Temple would remain majestic to narrate the Centuries old history and architectural style to the generations.