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Iconic slab of history exposed to the elements

D. Madhavan
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A stone that has inscriptions from the Vijayanagara period lies neglected outside a temple —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
A stone that has inscriptions from the Vijayanagara period lies neglected outside a temple —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

For many years, 53-year-old S. Kodandapani tethered his cattle to a stone slab protruding at the corner of a mud road in Vikkanampundi village, Tiruvallur. Kodandapani had no idea that the slab was 600 years old, and had on it, inscriptions from the Vijayanagara period. 

The slab rests just outside a 9th century Visalesvara temple nearby, which is protected by the State government, but the slab itself, which has a record of king Harihara Raya II (1378 CE), has been neglected.

“Some time ago, a similar five-foot stone slab with rare inscriptions was also lying outside the temple, broken.  The archaeology department woke up to its state only after it was broken, and moved it inside the temple. However, they left the other stone slab outside,” said 72-year-old M. Peetambaram, a retired teacher at the government school in the village. 

“This road is frequently used by tractors and sand lorries, and it is only a matter of time before a vehicle will destroy it. The slab should be relocated inside the temple to ensure its safety,” another resident of the village said.

The inscriptions on the stone record important historical information explained, K. Sridaran, retired deputy director of the State archaeology department. “The inscriptions detail the donations made by king Harihara to local sepoys — Idangai Maha Senaiyar — to maintain the temple. In fact, the temple was originally was known as Vijayalaya-Cholisvaram temple as per inscriptions found on the slab and inside the temple. But over the years, the name changed to Visalesvara temple,” he said.

 He added that usually, such stone slabs with inscriptions on them were installed on lands donated to the temple. The vast open land opposite to the temple might have been part of a donation made by the king for the upkeep of the ancient temple.

The inscriptions on the stone slab assume significance because, along with other inscriptions inside the temple, they confirm that the temple was built during Vijayalaya reign.

Local residents have now taken up the issue with senior officials of the State archaeology department, and are awaiting a response

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