Madattukoil (மடத்துக்கோயில்) – The deserted Siva Temple is a beautiful ruin. Known by the name Madattukoil the site contains remnants of an old (probably Chozha) outer Prakaram in dark Granite, enclosing a younger (most probably Vijayanagara) structure in pink gneiss. The architecture and sculptures exhibit consummate artistic skill and delicacy.
Thirty-eight kilometres from Pudukkottai and close to Marudhampatti (மருதம்பட்டி) village. The deviation at Kolattur (கொளத்தூர்) on Pudukkottai-Tiruchirappalli (புதுக்கோட்டை-திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி) Highway leads to Pakkudi (பாக்குடி) village via Madattukoil.
The monument: Ruined Siva Temple
The Siva temple in Madattukoil is a beautiful ruin or, more accurately, two ruins. Particularly graceful in style, it combines Chozha robustness with Vijayanagara lyricism.
From the art historian’s point of view, what is truly remarkable is the Vijayanagara appearance of a temple, which is basically Chozha in style. The temple contains remnants of an old (Chozha 10th century AD) outer prakaram in dark granite, enclosing a younger (Vijayanagara 14th-16th century AD.) structure in pink gneiss. The latter has evidently built on the spot of an earlier structure that existed conterminously with the earlier prakaram.
The freestanding temple in pink is bereft of a vimanam and the sanctum with a lingam inside is, in fact, open to the sky. The impression conveyed by the central structure is of incompleteness. It is not inconceivable that the builder of this shrine to leave his work half finished owing to the passing of the territory into other hands. Whatever be the reason, the structure appears unfinished or as it was stopped, a fact that adds poignancy to the temple’s beauty.
The temple is an exquisite monument. It faces west. There is a Lingam in the square sanctum. The mandapam in front is rectangular. There is nothing remarkable in this, but the outer walls are a sheer delight to examine. Three porches branch off, as it were, one from behind the sanctum, the others to the north and the south of it. Each porch is a dainty composition, using the delicate resources of architecture and sculpture. Two pillars and two pilasters form each. The recess, which is quite deep, is flanked by half-pilasters.
Very characteristic are the kumbha-pancharam-s (கும்ப பஞ்சரம்) with bulging kumbham-s (கும்பம்) with beaded ornamentation; the festoons on each side of the shafts above them and the brackets of the kapotam on top and the upa-pitham of plinth with the grooved kumudam (குமுதம்) and kudu-s (கூடு) with central rosette and the flowing foliage on each side reveal an intricate sensibility. The features belong to the Vijayanagara style (1350-1600 AD). The petals of the idal, the cornice and the decorated panels exhibit consummate artistic skill and delicacy. The panels depicting the five great Puranic rishi-s, Pulastya, Visvamitra, Bharadvaja, Jamadagni and Agasthya; the Devi worshipping a lingam; the Bhutha-gana (பூதகணம்) reveling in music and dance; Subrahmanya on his peacock; Krishna dancing on the serpent Kaliya and the elaborate scroll are of exceptional merit. There is no image in the northern and western porches; in the southern there is a beautiful sculpture of Dakshina-moorthi (தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி).
Above the entrance to the mandapam there are panels of Ganesa, Lakshmi and another goddess in a row. The adhishtanam (அதிஷ்டானம்) below is fine and full and carries animal relief.
A covered cloister ran around the main shrine at a distance but only parts are surviving today. The gopuram is too lost except for its lower portion. There is a covered nandi mandapam (நந்தி மண்டபம்) with four pillars.
An Amman shrine stands to the northwest of the Siva shrine. It consists of a garbha-griham (கர்பகிரகம் ) without a superstructure and a closed ardha-mandapam (அர்த்த மண்டபம்). The idol of the Amman is missing.
Note by M. Krishnan, wildlife photographer:
M. Krishnan, the well-known wildlife photographer visited the site in 1975 and studied an idol of Bhairava available in the temple. According to him Bhairava of this temple has no parallel in the excellence of its proportions, the assured and forbidding alertness of its stance, and the superb realism of the hunting dog depicted.
Regarding the dog depicted he opines that it was the pure ‘pariah dog’ without any trace of exotic blood. These dogs, he remarks, were used for hunting pigs and herding cattle. According to him this breed is of far greater antiquity than indigenous hounds (such as the Rajapalayam (ராஜபாளையம்) or Poligar (பாளையக்காரர்), the Kombai (கோம்பை) and the Sippipari (சிப்பிபறி) in the South, the Mutdhol hound in the Deccan and the Rampur hound in the North, and the Banjara dogs), and naturally it was comparatively recently within the last 4 centuries that exotic hounds as such the gray hound and the Saluki, were known to India. And finally about the sculpture he comments as ‘a masterful depiction of the animal – the short prick ears, the short-coupled body, the rather straight hocks and the short tail carried in a gay curve, are all authentic and characteristic’.