They throw light on artistic and temple-building activities in Tondaimandalam and Raja Raja's grip on the region

Four inscriptions, two of Raja Raja Chola (regnal years 985-1014 A.D.) and two of the earlier Chola period of 10th Century A.D., have been discovered at Siru Karumbur village, near Kaveripakkam, 20 km from Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu on the initiative of Sri Vijayendra Saraswati of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. They throw light on the artistic and temple-building activities in the northern region (Tondaimandalam) of the Tamil country during the Chola period and Raja Raja Chola's firm grip on the region.

When Sri Vijayendra Saraswati visited the Siva temple and the adjacent Sundara Kamakshi temple at Siru Karumbur on May 10, he saw many architectural pieces and fragmented stone inscriptions lying scattered in the village. When he noticed a mound of stones behind the temples, he suggested that the stones be “rolled over” to see whether they had any inscription. On being told that one stone had an inscription, he came back to the village on May 12 and saw another inscription lying some distance away. Both belonged to 10th Century A.D. Two inscriptions of the great Chola emperor were also discovered in the vicinity. So Sri Vijayendra Saraswati wanted R. Nagaswamy, former Director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, to read them. The Paramacharya, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, had visited these temples in 1974 and 1978.

Dr. Nagaswamy said one of the 10th Century inscriptions referred to several persons who agreed to serve the Siva temple and mentioned them as Mani Nagan Naruppan, Kuppan Narupponthai, Arunan Tirukkoil Mottai, Tirukkoil Poduvan, Ezhilan etc. The other referred to an endowment, which was added to an existing endowment, on a donation of 100 ‘kalams' (a measure) of paddy for meeting the temple's expenses.

Of the two inscriptions of the emperor, one, dated to his 28th regnal year (1013 A.D), specifically mentioned his name as Raja Kesari Varman Raja Raja Devar. It referred to Jayamkonda Chola Mandalam, a territorial division of Paduvur “Kottam” (a smaller territorial division) and talked about the land lying in a common holding in a habitation named Raja Raja Ceri. It spoke about an individual named Angala Madeva Gramavithan and the consecration of a bronze image of Uma Paramesvari, consort of Bhuvanesa Vitankar (Nataraja). The other undated Raja Raja Chola inscription mentioned one Nagai Anichan alias Irumadi Chola Muvenda Velan, a high-ranking royal official, who gifted 900 measures of paddy, which yielded an annual interest of 30 “kazhanju” (globules) of gold, which should be used for meeting the temple's expenses, Dr. Nagaswamy said.

He explained that Kaveripakkam was an important township and army camp from the time of the Pallavas. It was originally called “Kavidhipakkam” — Kavidhi is the title conferred on an army commander. An inscription of the Pallava king Nandivarman of 8th Century A.D. mentioned Kavidhipakkam and another Pallava king, Nandivarman III, established a Brahmin settlement, Avani Narana Chaturvedimangalam, there. When the Cholas captured Tondaimandalam, the Pallava heartland, they stationed an army at Kavidhipakkam to protect the region's northern boundaries. When Parantaka Chola (regnal years 907–955 A.D.) stationed his son Rajaditya at Kavidhipakkam to guard the Chola territory, Rashtrakuta king Krishna III invaded the region and Rajaditya was killed circa 949 A.D. in a battle at nearby Takkolam. So the Cholas lost their hold on Tondaimandalam.

Dr. Nagaswamy said: “Raja Raja Chola firmly re-established the Cholas' grip on Tondaimandalam by recapturing it. Many temples built by the Pallavas, the Rashtrakutas and the Cholas are situated in and around Kaveripakkam, which show their artistic and architectural activities in the parts. Siru Karumbur probably belonged to the larger territorial division of Kavidhipakkam of the Cholas during the 10th Century A.D. and these inscriptions establish Raja Raja Chola's hegemony over the region.”