An inscription by a tank bund reveals a contribution to the Saivite temple at Palaiyanur near Sivagangai

The Pandya Nadu Centre for Historical Research (PCHR) discovered and deciphered a new inscription that throws light on the Sethupathi reign at Palayanur village near Thiruppuvanam in Sivagangai District recently.

The 1717 AD inscription is engraved on a stone slab planted on a bund of an irrigation tank in the village and belongs to the reign of Sethupathi Kaaththa Ragunatha Devar. It mentions a land donation made by Udaiyah Devar to Kailasanatha temple. On the back of the inscribed slab a trident is engraved with sun and moon above it.

The Kailasanatha Temple is now housed in a small thatched structure called Neeli Temple.

C. Santhalingam, secretary, PCHR, says that the Palaiyanur Neeli myth is very popular among Tamil folks. Neeli, wife of a merchant, killed her husband, who had married again and left her destitute. It is believed, he says, that this happened at Palaiyanur, North Arcot District, (Thiruvalangadu). But no temple is built for Neeli in Tamil Nadu except this temple at Palaiyanur in Sivagangai District.

The Neeli myth is recorded for the first time in 7th century Sambanthar Devaram. Umapathi Sivachariya elaborated the myth in his Sekkilar Puranam during 12-13th century.

Though the temple is known as ‘Neeli Temple,’ Santhalingam says, it houses a Linga in its sanctum sanctorum. It may be the Kailasanatha Temple that is referred to in the inscription.

“This village is situated on an ancient trade route from Madurai to Rameswaram via Manamadurai,” says P.Rajendran, president, PCHR. “This new finding reveals the Sethupathi’s contribution to the Saivite temple at Palaiyanur.

Santhana Kumar, Tamil research scholar of Thiagarajar Arts College, tipped off the PCHR scholars about the inscription.