Pillar with Tamil inscription found

The rare British-era granite pillar that was found in the debris near the Sub-Court in Tiruvottiyur. —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam  

On the sandy footpath near the Magistrate Court on Apparswamy Street in Tiruvottiyur lies one of the treasures of Old Madras: a four-ft-tall granite pillar with a Tamil inscription.

The words inscribed there contain details of donations made by a prominent Shaivite saint to the Kapaleeshwar temple in Mylapore, in the late 19th century.

The discovery was made when The Hindu photographer B. Jothi Ramalingam chanced upon the pillar on the sandy footpath. The front portion of the pillar is damaged and the inscription has corroded partially.

“Based on the Saka year mentioned in the inscription, the pillar has been dated May 4, 1892 A.D. It is a legal document of donations made by an individual in those days and should be preserved in a government museum,” said K. Sridharan, retired deputy director of the State Archaeology Department. He de-coded the inscriptions written on the pillar after The Hindu sent a few pictures of it to him.

Archaeologists and historians say such a granite pillar with ancient Tamil inscription, made by an individual, has been found in the city after many years. The inscription consists of 40 short sentences, which together occupy three-ft space on the pillar. A Shiva Lingam, a Nandi and the pillar’s owner are depicted on the pillar.

Shaivite saint

The shaven head of the owner on the pillar indicates he was a Shaivite saint. The curves on the top of the pillar suggest the influence of Islamic architecture.

According to the inscription, Dhatchanamoorthy Swamigal, a well-known Shaivite saint from the region, settled near the Thyagaraja Swamy temple in Tiruvottiyur as a mark of devotion towards Lord Shiva.

He donated a garden to the temple in Mylapore, which would be maintained by a person named Rasumudaliyar and his descendents. However, he also said that the property could not be sold or leased by either by Rasumudaliyar or his descendents and belonged to the Shaivite temple. Income earned from donations should be used to feed wanderers and pilgrims at Shaivite temples.

Archaeologists said that before Dhatchanamoorthy Swamigal, many other famous Saivaite saints, including Pattinathar, Veeraraghava Swamigal, Appudu Swamigal and Ramalinga Swamigal, spent their last years near the temple in Tiruvottiyur.

In fact, the tomb of Tamil saint Pattinathar, from 16th century A.D., is located near the coast in Tiruvottiyur, one of the four Saivaites centres in the city after Mylapore, Padi and Thiruvanmiyur, since ancient times.

The Hindu ’ photographer chanced upon the pillar on the

sandy footpath

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 8:14:00 PM |

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