Leading to vital clues to the chronology of second Pandyan Empire

Five inscriptions belonging to the Pandya period and one from the Nayak period have been found at an ancient temple in Vellanchar village in the district recently.

Among them was an inscription dating back to the era of Sundara Pandya (1212-1239 AD); two others to the rule of Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya II (1237 AD) and two to Veera Pandya (1253-1274 AD). An inscription of Nayak period (1782 AD) has also been found at the tank bund at the temple.

The inscriptions throw adequate light on piece of land gifted to the temple by merchants, farmers and temple employees.

“We also come to know about the social and political environment of the period, land administration, agricultural products, taxation system in the region,” says Rajamohamad, president of Pudukottai Historical Cultural Research Centre, who led a team of epigraphists to the temple located at an interior village on the Annavasal–Iluppur Road.

The two inscriptions of Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya II were of significance, says Mr. Rajamohamad. It has been written by many scholars that Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya II, whose accession is fixed at 1237 AD, ruled only for two years. But the two inscriptions have been engraved in the fifth reignal year of the King.

“This is a significant clue to the chronology of the rulers of the second Pandyan Empire. It seems that this king ruled this region for many years simultaneously along with some other Pandya rulers, as per information at a few inscriptions available in other parts of the district,” he says.

Karu. Rajendran, an epigraphist and member of the team, said that the temple, now in a dilapidated condition, was known as ‘Kulothunga Choliswaram.' The inscriptions refer to the presiding deity as Kulothunga Choliswaramudaya Nayanar. The village had been popularly known as Vellanchar or ‘Char', indicating the presence of ‘forest of jasmine' according to the Sangam literature. It was located in the former Urathur kurram of Cholanadu. The ancient remains of the 2nd century AD have been another interesting feature at the temple. The place was known as ‘Vellanchar' following the settlement of the agriculturists or ‘Vellankudi.'

C. Govindaraj, another member of the team, said that the temple, was first built during the period of Chola ruler Kulothunga II (1133-1150), but was ruined in course of time. It was later re-built in the next century by the Pandyas.