Dotted with temples, caves and inscriptions Thidiyan village stands testimony to a rich past

The ancient village of Thidiyan is marked by a huge lotus-filled tank abutting a sober hillock and a plethora of temples. The existence of a village on this spot can be dated back to 4000 BCE on the basis of miocrolithic tools that were unearthed by archaeologists. Similarly, two Brahmi inscriptions dating to the 2nd century BCE contain references to the village as Thidiyil Aathan and Thidiyil Kaathan.

The prominent temple in the village, Sri Kailasanathar Temple at the foothills of Thidiyan Malai, stands testimony to the architectural splendour of the Later Pandya period (13th century) and the Nayak period.

The temple, set on a sprawling acre and featuring huge mandaps, might have been constructed during the Later Pandya period, judging from its architectural style, points out C. Shanthalingam, retired Archaeological Officer.

The main part of the temple consists of the garbhagriha and arthamandap, constructed during the Later Pandya era. Part of the base, which has six segments, is underground. The walls have empty niches, which is a special feature of the Later Pandya period. Each niche is flanked by pilasters. The roof has lotus motifs, cornices, koodu structures in periodical intervals and yazhi friezes.

Nayak Period

The superstructure, a later addition, is constructed with brick and mortar. It also has various stucco figures of gods, goddesses and puranic images. During the Nayak period (16th century), the front mandap was added.

There are also two mandaps built by people of the Mudaliar and Thevar communities during the 19th century. The temple has statues of Mukkuruni Vinayagar, Muruga, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingothbavar, and Durga and a separate shrine for Periyanayaki. "Probably, these statues were installed during Nayak period," says Mr. Shanthalingam.

Surrounded by 14 thumb-sized, bearded siddhars, Dakshinamoorthy here presents a unique view.

He is better known as Gnanaguru or Kaalaneera Dakshinamoorthy. Devotees worship him continuously for 14 weeks to fulfil their dreams, says the temple trustee, Parama Thevar.

Seven Virgins

Mr. Shanthalingam says that even during the 8th century the worship of seven virgins, popularly known as Saptha mathargal, was prevalent. Among the seven—Maheswari, Vaishnavi, Brahmi, Varahi, Indrani, Gowmari and Chamunda—the temple has only the statue of four-headed Brahmi.

The other figurines are probably lost. Another notable factor in the temple is the presence of the Mudaliar community and their contributions. Every pillar of the side mandap has the name of a Mudaliar and the inscription reads “Thidiyan vagaira aiynthu gramangal …”

This part of the history might take us back to the Nayak period, notes Mr. Shanthalingam. He adds that the chief minister and military general Dalavai Ariyanatha Mudaliar, who came down from Thondaimandalam, now Kanchipuram region, worked under Viswanatha Nayak, Muthuveerappa Nayak and Krishnappa Nayak. He brought his relatives along and they settled as accountants in and around the villages.

As in Tiruvannamalai, devotees circumambulate the hill during the full moon and perform special pujas on Thursdays. The hillock is dotted with several temples—two temples of Nalloothu Karuppusamy, Thenkarai Karuppusamy, Valagurunathar Angalaeswari Temple, Vadakkuvaichi Amman and Thangamalai Ramar Temple on top of the hill.

It is believed that Lord Rama before waging a war against Ravana and before performing ashwamedha yagna visited the Sri Kailasanathar Temple to offer 14 kinds of flowers.

Agasthya Muni is also believed to have visited the temple on his way. The temple's sthalaviruksham ‘Neikottamaram' is situated near an octagonal well outside the temple.

The hillock also has a siddhar cave in which there is a swayambu linga. The beauty of the village, the divinities in the temples, the sanctity of the hillock and the serenity all around engulf anyone who makes a visit to this ancient village of Thidiyan.