An inscription was found at the Varatharaja Perumal Temple at Thirumangalam near Lalgudi in Tiruchi district which refers to an ancient temple which probably existed during the Chola period.
The epigraphists, R. Akila, Assistant Professor, Arignar Anna Government Arts College, Musiri and M. Nalini, Head, Department of History, Seethalakshmi Ramasami College, Tiruchi, while studying inscriptions of Samavedisvarar Temple at Thirumangalam near Lalgudi had found that the mahasabha of the village had met at the courtyard of the Thiru Ayotthiyalvar Temple during the rule of the Chola king Kulothunga I to carry out some administrative activities.
However, enquiries revealed that the there was no such temple in the vicinity but for a Vishnu shrine at the nearby Varatharaja Perumal Temple. A huge Chola-period stone statue of Lord Vishnu is found in the front mandapa of the temple.
The researchers studied the Varatharaja Perumal temple with the help of the temple priest, Gopalakrishna Madavan, who pointed to the existence of a couple of inscriptions on the inner walls of the shrine. The inscription on the north wall was damaged and illegible. The other, on the south wall, was inscribed on a stone slab measuring 1.30 metres in long and 40 cm in width. The slab was probably incorporated in the temple structure during construction, the epigraphists said.
Emblems of a mercantile group such as plough, sickle, conch, chakra, a bag identified as pasumpai, spiral knife etc are sculpted on the top portion of the slab. “The lower portion of the slab contains the Tamil inscription in nine lines. All the letters are legibly carved using linear lines underneath and it may be dated to 11th century C.E. on palaeographical grounds,” said R.Kalaikkovan, Director, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Tiruchi.
The inscription identifies the venue as Thiruayothi Emperuman Thirumurram and mentions the name of the donor as Pakavirukarar. “Though it is not clear whether the donor was an individual or a group, it indicates that an Ayotthiyalvar temple had existed there. The icon of Vishnu which is installed in the mandapa was probably the presiding deity of the erstwhile shrine,” Dr. Kalaikkovan said.
“Due to ravages of time the ancient structure might have collapsed and the stone slab with the inscription had somehow found a place in the new construction,” he said.