Keezhadi excavation leads to ancient civilisation on the banks of Vaigai

Of kings and temples

The Sanctum Santorum of Arjuna Eswaram Temple. Photo: S.S. Kavitha   | Photo Credit: mamp03namma-maintemple-1

Keezhadi is steeped in historical, religious and archaeological richness. Even a child from the village can play a guide to the 800-year-old Arjuna Eswaram temple.

Defaced Nandi

A defaced ‘Nandi’ at the entrance confirms antiquity of the temple renovated by Maravarman Kulasekra Pandiyan (1268-1311A.D.). The presiding deity is ‘Suyambu Linga’ in a 10x10 feet sanctum sanctorum with two podiums on each side.

On the top, an octagonal structure attracts everyone’s attention. A newly constructed mandapam next to the sanctum sanctorum has ‘Uraiyudayanayaki’, Lord Shiva's consort. In a peculiar arrangement, Ambal faces south and Dhakshinamoorthy faces north here.

Inscriptions

According to an archaeological source, the structure of the gopuram implies the then existing Dravidian style of vimana. Tamil inscriptions are found on the outside of the temple. One of them records that Maravarman Kulasekra Pandiyan (1268-1311A.D.) carried out renovation during his regime and named it Pandiya Eswaramudaya Nayanar temple. Another inscription says Koobakarayar, son of Malavarayar, one of the Pandya chieftains, established the statues of Natarajar and Sivagami Ammaiyar. He also requested that god and goddess be named after his parents – Surisuvaramudiaya Nayanar and Uthamma Piratiyar.

Yet another inscription of Kulasekra Pandiyan notes that people of the village sold lands to Koothan Thennadan Thiribhuvana Singa Thevan who hailed from Kannanur in Malayalam country. Arayan Suriyathevan alias Devendra Vallavan Viradarayan of Thurumoor dug out a river named Thiyagamsiriya Peraru.

King Kulasekra Pandiyan is the last king of later Pandya kingdom. The feud between his sons – Sundarapandiyan and Veerapandiyan – ended their regime paving way for Muslim invasion. Malik Kafur made his entry in 1310 A.D.

During the olden days, the village was called Kreedapuram. Later the name witnessed changes and resulted in Keezhadi, villagers say. According to archaeological sources, the old name of the village is ‘Kundi Devi Chathurvedi Mangalam’ alias ‘Kondagai.’ The temple which is known as Arjuna Eswaram was earlier known as ‘Mudi Vazhangu Pandya Eswaram.’ The temple got its name from the title name of King Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan I (1216-1238 AD).

People believe that the village has some links to Mahabharata. They say that Arjuna performed puja for Lord Shiva in the Arjuna Eswaram after taking bath in the temple tank. Now, there is no evidence of a temple tank.

During an archaeological excavation, the archaeologists unearthed terracotta figurines belonging to 12 century A.D. The figurines unearthed in the village are preserved at Thirumalai Naicker Mahal and Gandhi Museum.

The village also has temples for ‘Nallathangal,’ a lady who drowned herself with her seven children in a well and ‘Yamadharma Rajan.’ The temple of Yamadharma Rajan belongs to a particular family. It is believed that few decades ago a family gave the temple as a gift to the bride. Next to the temple lies an inscription bearing some details about the Yamadharma Rajan temple.

Abounding with such unique historical evidences, it is no wonder that Keezhadi is a sure attraction for the archaeologically inclined.


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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 11:52:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/of-kings-and-temples/article16240436.ece1

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