New inscriptions confirm Manickavasagar built temple

The Saivite savant of the 9th century used money meant for buying horses to construct the temple

February 03, 2014 01:46 am | Updated May 18, 2016 05:27 am IST - CHENNAI:

FRESH EVIDENCE: Inscriptions found at Aavudaiyar Koil in Pudukottai district.

FRESH EVIDENCE: Inscriptions found at Aavudaiyar Koil in Pudukottai district.

Legend has it the Manickavasagar, one of the four Saivite savants, constructed the temple at Avudaiyarkoil, known as Thiruperunthurai, in Pudukottai district.

Now the State Archaeology department has stumbled upon inscriptions confirming that Manickavasagar, the Minister of Pandiya King Arimarthana Pandian, built the sanctum sanctorum and the kanagasabha mandapam.

“His contribution has been recorded in the form of a poem. The inscriptions, found in the Panchakshara mandapam of the temple built in the 16th century, also record that Thiruvachagam was inscribed on the walls,” said G. Muthusamy, registering officer of the department in Tiruchi region.

Manickavasagar belonged to the 9th century and was said to have used the money meant for buying horses for the cavalry to construct the temple at Thiruperunthurai, one of the ports of the Pandiya Kingdom. Manickavasagar penned Thiruvachagam and Thirupalliyezhuchi while camping in this temple and referred to it as Thiruperunthurai.

“So far, we have only oral narration about the temple construction. The discovery proved beyond doubt Manickavasagar's role,” said Mr Muthusamy.

Even as the temple construction was in progress, King Arimarthana Pandian waited for days for the arrival of Manickavasagar and the horses. Later, he realised that the money was already spent and commanded Manickavasagar to bring along the horses without further delay. According to tradition, Lord Siva transformed a pack of foxes into fine breed of horses. In the night, the horses became foxes and let out a deafening howl.

God appeared before the king and explained he was behind the mischievous drama. The story of ‘nariyai’ (fox) ‘pariyakkuthal’ (horse) is still enacted during temple festivals in Madurai, the capital of Pandiyas.

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