TAMIL NADU

Kulothunga-1 inscription found at Thirukalambur temple

The inscription of Kulothunga Chola I from the Kathaliswara Temple at Thirukalambur in Pudukottai district.

The inscription of Kulothunga Chola I from the Kathaliswara Temple at Thirukalambur in Pudukottai district.  

PUDUKOTTAI MARCH 30. An inscription of Chola King Kulothunga-I (1070-1129 A.D.) has been discovered at the Kathaliswara temple at Thirukalambur near Ponnamaravathi in Pudukottai district.

The inscription provides details of endowment made by the King, in his 42nd regnal year, to ensure that two lamps in the temple were lighted perpetually. It also reveals that the temple was constructed a century earlier — under the Chola reign rather than during the Pandya period. The Pudukottai Government Museum curator and secretary of the Pudukottai History Forum, J. Raja Mohammed, and another member of the forum, K. Rajendran, discovered the inscription during field surveys.

Though 15 inscriptions were copied from the temple as early as 1920s, the earliest among them dated back to the ninth regnal year of Jatavarman Kulasekara Pandya-I (1190-1218 A.D.).

The newly-discovered inscription indicates that the temple was assigned to the Pandya kings and throws light on the history of the region, says Mr. Mohammed.

The inscription is found on a pillar at the entrance of the side doorway to the `ardhamandapam'.

The size and the shape of this doorway and palaeography of the inscriptions give vital clues to the architecture of the original design of the temple.

The temple should have been originally constructed, even prior to the time of Kulothunga-I, with a small `vimanam' and `ashtaparivara' shrines, as were many early Chola temples in the district.

The ardhamandapam could have been added during Kulothunga's reign.

The original Chola structure might have been damaged and rebuilt during the period of Kulasekara Pandya-I.

But the temple with the Pandya architecture has been renovated several times over the years and has lost its pristine art.

Fortunately, the inscriptions are in good condition, while some damaged sculptures are found dumped outside the temple. These include Jeshta, Chandi, Surya and Bhairava, which could have been the ``parivara'' shrines of the original temple.

The side doorway, on which the new inscription has been found, is at the eastern end of the ardhamandapam and could have been closed to provide contiguity to the mahamandapam built later.

The passage appeared to have been opened during the recent renovations for providing adequate lighting to the `ardhamandapam', and has been closed with an iron door.

The inscriptions are engraved on the inner face of both the pillars on the doorway.

The inscription refers to the place as Thirukurambur and the Lord as Thirukurambanda Mahadevar and Thirukurambanda Nayanar, though the sthalapurana, a later version, refers to the place as Thirukalambur and the Lord as Kathaliswara.

``Karambur'' means border or border town. `Kuram' also means the hoof of a horse.

Eight other inscriptions have also been discovered on the dance floor and the pillars at the entrance of the hall, and they provide vital information about the socio-political history of the region, says Mr. Mohammed.

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