Thirukkattalai (திருக்கட்டளை) – The Siva temple is a good specimen of early chozha architecture of the second half of the 9th century. This is a parivara complex type with sub-shrines around the main shrine. The inscriptions in the temple help to understand the history of the temple.
Thirukkattalai (‘thi-ruk-kat-ta-lai’) is about 15 kilometers from Pudukkottai town. Taxi service and Town bus services is available from Pudukkottai.
The monument: Early Chozha Temple
The Siva-worshiped as Sundaresvara (சுந்தரேஸ்வரர்)-temple seen in the village is a good specimen of early Chozha architecture of the 9th century and is of special interest. The dating of this temple is based on an inscription taken as of in the reign of Adithya Chozha I (முதலாம் ஆதித்த சோழன்) (874 AD) relating land grants for the temple.
This place seems to have been an important pre-historic centre. There are traces of pre-historic burials and stone circles nearby.
The Temple Architecture
The Thirukkattalai temple is a typical structural temple of the parivara complex type with sub-shrines for the relevant divinities found abutting against the prakaram wall. The scheme is different from the freestanding scheme, as at Narttamalai (நார்த்தாமலை) that carries the original sculptures of the respective divinities inside them. This is perhaps one of the few extant examples of an early temple unit with ashta-parivara shrines, meaning, a temple around which are eight sub-shrines, standing intact.
The garbha-griham and ardha-mandapam (அர்த்த மண்டபம்) belong to the second half of the 9th century and are among the earliest structures in the district. The former is built of stone from basement to finial, and has a square vimanam (விமானம்). Below the stupi (ஸ்தூபி) and simha-lalatam (சிம்ம லலாடம்) and in the tier below are two rows of niches, one above other; those on the south contain seated figures of Dakshina-moorthi (தக்ஷிணா மூர்த்தி) and Bhikshatana-moorthi (பிக்ஷாடணமூர்த்தி), those on the west figures Varaha (வராகம்) and Vishnu and those on the north two figures of Brahma. The corbels are fluted and above them is a line of vyali-s (யாளி). The niche in the southern wall contains an idol of Vina-dhara Dakshina-moorthi (வீணாதார தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி), a rare and interesting specimen, that in the western wall a figure of Lingod-bhava (லிங்கோத்பவர்) and that on the northern wall a figure of Brahma. The dvara-palaka-s (துவாரபாலகர்) have only two arms.
The Amman shrine belongs to the late Chozha period. Round the central shrine are seven sub-shrines dedicated to Surya, the Sapta-matrika (சப்த கன்னியர்), Ganesa, Subrahmanya (சுப்பிரமணியர்), Jyesta (ஜ்யேஷ்டா), Chandra and Chandikesvara (சண்டிகேஸ்வரா) a feature peculiar to early Chozha temples.
There are number of inscription. In some of the inscriptions the place is mentioned as Thiruk-karrali (திருக்கற்றளி) meaning “the sacred stone temple” and also as Karkurichchi (கார்குறிச்சி).