Madattukoil

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.

Approach

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.

Temple Architecture:

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:

Bhairava, Madattukoil

Bhairava, Madattukoil

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’.

Kodumbalur

Kodumbalur (கொடும்பாளுர்) is the site of some structural temples of great beauty. Their merit marks them out as among the most outstanding monuments in India. Two monuments alone are survived. They are the celebrated Muvar-koil (மூவர் கோயில்) and Muchu-kundesvara-koil (முசுகுந்தேஸ்வரர் கோயில்). There are survivals of an Aivar-koil (ஐவர் கோயில்) and of another Siva temple. It is Muvar-koil, which is the centre of attraction. These temples are considered to be the forerunners of the great Imperial chozha temples. Some important inscriptions are also found here.

Approach

Kodumbalur is located on Pudukkottai-Kudumiyamalai-Manapparai (புதுக்கோட்டை-குடுமியாமலை-மணப்பாறை) main road about 35 kilometres from Pudukkottai. And it lies 5 kilometres away from Tiruchi – Madurai highway. Bus facility is available from Viralimalai (விராலிமலை) and Manapparai (மணப்பாறை).

Historical background

Kodumbalur (கொடும்பாளூர்) is one of the most ancient places in Pudukkottai  and perhaps the oldest historically recorded site. The Silappadikaram (சிலப்பதிகாரம்), the earliest Tamil epic, mentions Kodumbai (கொடும்பை)  as lying on the highway between Uraiyur (உறையூர்), the Chozha  capital and Madurai (மதுரை), the Pandya  capital. It is through this road did Kovalan (கோவலன்), the hero of Silappadikaram  (சிலப்பதிகாரம்) and his wife Kannagi (கண்ணகி), along with a Jaina acetic, travelled from Uraiyur  to Madurai. The Periya-puranam  (பெரியபுராணம்) also mentions about this place and calls it the Konattu-k-kodi-nagaram  (கோநாட்டுக் கொடிநகரம், ‘apex-town-of-Konadu’).

The Kodumbalur  tract was mostly under Irukkuvel  (இருக்குவேள்) chiefs (a short note on the Irukkuvel-s is given below) from the middle of the 6th century AD to the middle of the 9th century AD. During the same period the Muttaraiyar (முத்தரையர்)-s had been ruling the adjoining areas falling in Pudukkottai (புதுக்கோட்டை), Tiruchirappalli (திருச்சிராப்பள்ளி) and Thanjavur  (தஞ்சாவூர்) tracts. Both these ruling chiefs constantly changed their allegiance with one or the other of the greater powers, the Pallava-s and the Pandya-s. The monuments and inscriptions of this period (6th-9th centuries AD) relate to the Muttaraiyar-s, the Irukkuvel-s, the Pandya-s and the Pallava-s.

Kodumbalur  is mentioned as the scene of a few wars in the 8th century. In one of them, the Pandya  King Mara-varman Raja-simha (மாரவர்மன் இராஜசிம்மன்) (740 – 765 AD) defeated the Pallava  King Nandi-varman Pallava-malla (நந்திவர்மன் பல்லவமல்லன்). The Sendalai  (செந்தலை) records attribute a victory at Kodumbalur  to Perumbidugu Suvaran-Maran  (பெரும்பிடுகு சுவாரன்மாரன்) (first half of 8th century), a Muttaraiyar  chief, who is mentioned as having defeated the Pandya-s and the Chera-s. It is not known whether these were two different battles or only two different but contradictory versions of the same war.

After the famous battle of Thirup-purambiyam (திருப்புரம்பியம்) (880 AD), wherein the Chozha-s inflicted a crushing defeat on the Pallava-s and the Pandya-s, the territories of the Muttaraiyar-s and the Irukkuvel-s came under the Chozha-s.

The inscriptions in these areas often indicate matrimonial relations among the various kings – the Pandya-s, the Muttaraiyar-s, the Irukkuvel-s, the Pallava-s and the Chozha-s – in addition to political relations.

For a long spell between 9th and 14th centuries, Kodumbalur was under the Chozha-s and the later Pandya-s. The town must have been finally destroyed during the Muslim invasions in 14th century.

During the Chozha times Kodumbalur  was a flourishing town and had at least two nagaram-s (assembles of merchants). It had a mani-gramam  (மணிகிராமம்) (corporation of merchants or trade guild). These institutions were either associated or affiliated to the great guild or corporation known as the Ainurruvar  (ஐநூற்றுவர், ‘assembly-of-five-hundred’).

The Irukkuvel dynasty of Kodumbalur

Kodumbalur  was the seat of a flourishing state, ruled by a dynasty of Velir (வேளிர்)-s called Irukkuvel-s, who were connected by blood with the Chozha-s, but politically were subordinate to them. They have played a very important part in the moulding of South Indian history and politics.

The Velir-s claimed to be Yadava (யாதவர்)-s from Dvara-samudram (துவாரசமுத்திரம்) in Karnataka, and one of the chiefs assumed the title of Yadu-vamsa (யதுவம்சம்). Idangazhi-nayanar (இடங்கழி நாயனார்), who is revered as one of the 63 Saiva saints and mentioned in the Thiruth-thandakam  (திருத்தாண்டகம்) by Sundara-moorthi Nayanar  (சுந்தரமூர்த்தி நாயனார்) (6th – 7th centuries), was a king of this dynasty. The Chozha  king, Vijayalaya  (about 830 – 850 AD), the founder of the Imperial Chozha  line, and his son Adithya (ஆதித்தியன்), were connected with this dynasty.

The Sanskrit inscription (PSI 14) in grantha characters in the Muvar-koil gives the genealogy of the Irukkuvel-s from a king whose name is, unfortunately, illegible, to Bhuthi-vikrama-kesari (பூதி விக்கிரமகேசரி) (last quarter of 9th century), perhaps the greatest of them all.

The Irukkuvel-s would appear to have surfaced as a power at a time that is coeval with Pandya  King Mara-varman Raja-simha-I (மாரவர்மன் இராஜசிம்மன்) (730 – 765 AD) and to have continued up to the rise of the Chozha  of the Vijayalaya  line (middle of 9th century AD). They continued their independent status thus far. Later, they appear to get closely affiliated in a subservient capacity to the Imperial Chozha-s. The arrangement continued through the reigns of Bhuthi-Vikrama-kesari’s sons Parantaka  (பராந்தகன்) and Adithya  (ஆதித்தியன்) and ending with Siriya-velar (சிறிய வேளார்), a son of Parantaka  serving Sundara-chozha (சுந்தர சோழன்)  (957 – 973 AD) as general in the army. The Irukkuvel-s, as the staunch allies and vassals of the Chozha-s, helped them in all their battles. We do not hear much of the Irukkuvel-s after the reign of Rajendra-chozha-I (இராஜேந்திர சோழன்) (1012-1044 AD).

The monuments

Once a flourishing town under the Chozha-s and the Pandya-s, it was a city of temples like Kanchi  and Kumbakonam. According to tradition, this place once contained 108 Siva temples. It is supported by the discovery of a large number of lingam-s  , nandi-s and other sculptures in the area. But nothing remains now of the past glory of Kodumbalur except the beautiful Muvar-koil  (மூவர்கோயில்) and Muchu-kundesvara-koil (முச்சுகுந்தேஸ்வரர் கோயில்). These temples hold an honoured place in the evolution of both south Indian temple architecture and sculpture.

There are remnants of an Aivar-koil (ஐவர்கோயில்) which was perhaps the only one of its kind in Tamilnadu or even South-India. There is also a large stone nandi  in the village near to the road.

Monuments in Kodumbalur  :

1. The Muvar-koil

2. The Muchu-kundesvara-koil

3. The remnants of the Aivar-koil

4. A large stone-nandi

Presently, the first three monuments, that is the Muvar-koil, the Muchu-kundesvara-koil  and the remnants of the Aivar-koil, are protected monuments and under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Also they are no more under worship.

There is an ASI counter at the Muvar-koil  and a staff will be there on duty. The monuments will be open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. There are no holidays. There is an entry fee of Rs. 5 for Indian citizens and Rs. 100 (US$ 2) for foreigners for the Muvar-koil.

Entry to all other monuments is free.

The Muvar-koil (மூவர்கோயில்)

The Muvar-koil  (‘temple-of-three’) is a beautiful temple of early-Chozha  period, built by the Irukkuvel (இருக்குவேள்) chief Bhuthi-vikrama-kesari (பூதி விக்கிரமகேசரி). According to his inscription he built these three Siva shrines, one on his own behalf and, the other two on behalf of his wives, Karrali (கற்றளி) and Varaguna (வரகுணா).

As far as the dating of Bhuthi-vikrama-kesari  and his Muvar-koil is concerned, there is more than one opinion. Some experts date them to the second half of the 10th century and some others to the last quarter of 9th century. In any case, one can say they belong to the early Chozha  period (9th – 11th centuries AD).

In spite of inscriptional evidences, fanciful interpretations have been given to explain the term Muvar. Some claim that the Saiva saints Appar (அப்பர்), Sundarar  (சுந்தரர்) and Manikka-vachakar (மாணிக்கவாசகர்) constructed one shrine each. Others claim that the Muvarasar  (மூவரசர்) or the three kings – the Chera, the Chozha  and the Pandya  – built one each. Yet another ingenious interpretation is that the shrines were intended to house the Trimurthi-s – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, one in each.

The first impression about Muvar-koil  is one of enchanting beauty, perfect composition in stone. The poise of the vimanam, the beauty of the supple figures that have been modelled with loving care and the refined contours of the domical terrace edgings, all indicate the Pallava  style for delicacy of structure and form. The Pallava  influence, it is believed, is due to the marital relationship of the Irukkuvel-s with the Muttaraiyar (முத்தரையர்)-s, who were the vassals of the Pallava-s.

The Temple Complex

This is an interesting parivara  type temple which had three main shrines and many (fifteen or sixteen) sub-shrines, in the same compound.

The three main shrines stand side by side in a row, along the north-south direction, facing west. Out of these three, only two, the central and southern vimanam-s are now extant. Of the third or the northern shrine, the basement alone remains. Each of the shrines had a closed ardha-mandapam (அர்த்த மண்டபம்). Now only the basement of the ardha-mandapam-s survives.

There stood once a common maha-mandapam (மகாமண்டபம்), in front of the main shrines. Only basement of these structures remains now. It measures 91 feet by 41 feet. Remains of the basement of a nandi-mandapam (நந்தி மண்டபம்) and a bali-pitham (பலி பீடம்) or a dhvaja-sthambham  (கொடிமரம்) could also be seen, in front.

Surrounding this group are remnants of the original 15 or 16 symmetrically arranged sub-shrines, or parivara  shrines. Each of these sub-shrines had a garbha-griham (கர்பகிரகம்)  and an ardha-mandapam.

The main shrines and the sub-shrines were encircled by a madhil  (மதில், compound wall). This massive stone wall had perhaps two gates, one in the west and another near the north-eastern corner.

The north-eastern gate leads to a well, approachable by a flight of stone steps. Outside the temple complex, near the road on the northern side, is a shed which is a gallery of fine sculptures.

The Temple

Makara-head

Makara-head

The plinth of the three shrines rests on a lotus base. Above it runs a frieze of vyali-s (யாளி) with makara-head-s, with human figures inside the mouths. The pilasters on the walls are tetragonal, giving the whole temple a slender effect. The niches on the walls are surmounted by makara-torana-s (மகரத்தோரணம்), while friezes of bhutha-gana (பூதகணம்) playing on different kinds of musical instruments run on the top of the walls. These impish figures, in their abandon, show the uninhibited frolics of the Siva-gana (சிவகணம்). Over the cornice are the vyali-s with projecting makara heads at the corners.

Bhutha-gana frieze

Bhutha-gana frieze

Vyali-frieze

Vyali-frieze

The vimanam of the temples

The vimanam of the temples

The vimanam is of three tiers, diminishing in size. The edging of the lower tier has a line of domical cells with an ornamental railing. The lowest has niches surmounted by ‘wagon-shaped’ tops, reaching up almost to the top of the tier above. The second tier contains pilasters on either side of the wagon tops. On the top tier is the square grivam (கிரீவம்). It has niches topped with a chaitya arch. The arch itself is embellished with scrolls and bas-relief sculpture. Four beautifully moulded nandi-s (நந்தி) adorn the four corners of the grivam. The terraces culminate in a square curvilinear sikharam (சிகரம்).

Relief Sculptures in the Niches

Decorating the niches in the walls are some of the finest sculpture of our country. The sculptor’s devotion and intensity of religious fervour are reflected in the depiction of these gods.

Ardha-nareesvara

Ardha-nareesvara

The beautiful Ardha-nareesvara (அர்த்தநாரீஸ்வரர், ‘half-woman’) is eloquent in its declaration that the male and the female principles are inseparable and found together in cosmic evolution.

Vina-dhara Dakshina-moorthi

Vina-dhara Dakshina-moorthi

The youthful Siva with an enigmatic smile depicted as Vina-dhara Dakshina-moorthi (வீணாதாரதக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி, ‘Veenai holding south facing deity’) is an arresting figure.

Rishabha-rudha

Rishabha-rudha

It is with dignity of pose and careless elegance we have Siva as the rider of the bull, Rishabha-rudha (ரிஷபாரூடர்), with his bent arm attempting to rest on His vahana.

 

Siva in sitting pose

Siva in sitting pose

A sculpture of Siva in sitting pose. He is depicted with four hands and along with his vehicle, Nandi

Gaja-samhara-moorthi

Gaja-samhara-moorthi

A figure of Siva as Gaja-samhara-moorthi (கஜசம்ஹாரமூர்த்தி), A destructive mood of Siva. The fierce ecstasy portrayed on the face of Gaja-samhara-moorthi is awe-inspiring.

Kalari

Kalari

The lord Kalari (காலாரி) is arrested in a movement of the chatura pose of dancing. One feels that at any moment he may renew the dance. There is so much suppressed action in the soft moulding of the thighs and legs. The look of sublime compassion on Siva’s face while dancing over Kala is superb.

The play and the sequel; Shiva-Parvathi on the north side of south temple

The play and the sequel - 1

The play and the sequel – 1

On the walls of the southern temple is a play in stone enacted the Pallava way. In the top niche is Siva as Gangadhara in a sportive mood and lower down its sequel. In the top we find His face is sufficed with a tender, but mischievous, smile while Parvathi has moved away in mock anger. The whole composition of the Goddess trying to edge away by squeezing Herself into the narrow space of the niche shows great aesthetic sensibility.

The play and the sequel - 2

The play and the sequel – 2

Below in the next niche, in its sequel, the Devine Couple is now reconciled and Parvathi’s face is lighted up with happiness as she is encircled by the arm of Her Lord. The touch itself is light and the gesture almost casual.

chawri-bearer

chawri-bearer

A chawri-bearer (‘flywhisk-bearer’) stands a little further away discreetly fanning the couple from behind a ledge. Her slender elongated limbs remind once again of the Pallava sculpture at Mahabalipuram. The artist has shown an exquisite sense of restraint.

Indra

Indra

The Art gallery

Outside the temple complex, near the road on the northern side, is a shed which is a small museum of fine sculptures.

Sapta-matrika frieze, Kodumbalur

Sapta-matrika frieze, Kodumbalur

 

Some loose sculptures, Kodumbalur

Some loose sculptures, Kodumbalur

 

An inside view of the gallery, Kodumbalur

An inside view of the gallery, Kodumbalur

The Muchukundesvara Koil (முச்சுகுந்தேஸ்வரர் கோயில்)

Muchu-kundesvara Temple surrounded by its parivara temples, Kodumbalur

Muchu-kundesvara Temple surrounded by its parivara temples, Kodumbalur

This is another early chozha shrine built about 921 AD by Mahimalaya Irukkuvel (மகிமாலய இருக்குவேள்). It is certain that this king belong to the Irukkuvel clan. However whether he was related to the Bhuti Vikrama-kesari (பூதி விக்ரம கேசரி) the builder of Muvar-koil (மூவர்கோயில்) is not known.

A deity from one of the parivara temples, Kodumbalur

A deity from one of the parivara temples, Kodumbalur

The temple is a parivara-temple, like the Muvar-koil and the Vijayalaya Chozhisvaram (விஜயாலய சோழீஸ்வரம்) in Narttamalai. There is no idol in the garbha-griham (கர்பகிரகம்) at present.

The main shrine consists of a garbha-griham (கர்பகிரகம்) and an ardha-mandapam (அர்த்த மண்டபம்) facing east. The closed maha-mandapam (மகா மண்டபம்) and the Amman shrine are later structures. Only four of the seven sub-shrines characteristic of early chozha temples, now stand. The walls of the main shrine are adorned with four-cornered pilasters. The arches above the figure niches are surmounted by makara-torana (மகரத் தோரணம்). Above the cornice are friezes of bhutha-gana (பூதகணம்) and vyali-s (யாளி), from the corners of the latter of which makara-heads just out. The stone dome resembles that of the Thirukkattalai (திருக்கட்டளை) Sundaresvara (சுந்தரேஸ்வரர்) temple.

The front view, Muchu-kundesvara Temple, Kodumbalur

The front view, Muchu-kundesvara Temple, Kodumbalur

The temple seems to have been repaired in the 13th century when the maha-mandapam was built. Of the stone-wall enclosing the temple only some parts now remain. There is an ancient circular stone-well to the south of the main temple.

 

The well inside the temple campus, Muchu-kundesvara Temple, Kodumbalur

The well inside the temple campus, Muchu-kundesvara Temple, Kodumbalur

There is an ancient stone well close to the pillared-mandapam of the main shrine, on the southern side. It is said to have a tunnel about 3 feet in width below, probably an in-let for water from the tank in front of the temple.

The mandapam infront of the temple complex,Muchu-kundesvara Temple, Kodumbalur

The mandapam infront of the temple complex,Muchu-kundesvara Temple, Kodumbalur

Before entering the temple complex, one approaches a stone structure which looks like a mandapam. It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the complex, by the side of the madhil (மதில்). It has walls on all the four sides and a flat roof. It consists of a large pillared hall in front and a small cell on the back-side. The entrance to this is from the east, outside the temple complex. The entrance is flanked by two hexagonal pilasters. The base of the pilaster is carved in the shape of a lion sitting erect and carrying the pillar on its back.

The Aivar-koil  (ஐவர்கோயில் The Five Temples)

The remains of Aivar-koil, Kodumbalur

The remains of Aivar-koil, Kodumbalur

A temple complex was excavated in a mound a little to the southeast of Muvar-koil (மூவர்கோயில்). The name Aivar-koil (ஐவர்கோயில்) is due to the fact there are five temples on a common plinth. The temple is also known as Ainthali (ஐந்தளி), as may be seen from an inscription found in the complex. The plan of this Siva temple is unique and interesting. It is a panchayatana (பஞ்சாயதனம்), temple that is, a temple with four shrines at the corners of a common plinth with a central shrine in the midst.

Perhaps this is the only one of its kind in Tamilnadu or even in South India. This resembles in many respects the Siva temple at Panamalai (பனமலை) and the Kailasa-natha temple (கைலாசநாதர் கோயில்) of Kanchi, both built early in the 8th century in the Pallava period.

The main shrine may be assigned to 8th-9th century AD, and the ardha-mandapam (அர்த்தமண்டபம்) and the maha-mandapam (மகாமண்டபம்) to the early Chozha period 9th-10th century.

Temple Architecture

A rear view of the complex, Aivar koil, Kodumbalur

A rear view of the complex, Aivar koil, Kodumbalur

The garbha-griham (கர்பகிரகம்) contains an inner sanctum enclosed by a narrow circular prakaram (திருச்சுற்று மாளிகை), against the square outer walls of which are four attendant shrines. All the five shrines have a common base or plinth, and now contain only the broken pedestals of lingam-s. The lingam in the central shrine is larger than those in the sub-shrines.

The remains of garbha-griham with the broken avudai, Aivar koil, Kodumbalur

The remains of garbha-griham with the broken avudai, Aivar koil, Kodumbalur

In front were a pillared ardha-mandapam and maha-mandapam of which the plinth alone now remains. The plinth is lower than that of the main shrine. The ardha-mandapam was a closed structure; the maha-mandapam which was supported by sixteen pillars had a veranda all round. Two flights of steps, one on the north and the other on the south, lead up to the ardha-mandapam, and two others to the circumambulatory passage of the central shrine.

The nandi, Kodumbalur

The nandi, Kodumbalur

The smaller sanctums at the four corners have also flights of steps leading up to them. On the railings of the steps are carved stone figures of dwarfs blowing conch shells. In the extreme west was a pillared nandi-mandapam (நந்தி மண்டபம்).

Except fragments of walls over the plinth of the central shrine, there is nothing definite to indicate what the superstructure of the garbha-griham was like. The important finds include friezes of dwarfs and of elephant, bulbous tops of polygonal pillars, corbels and corner pieces of the cornice, a nandi, an idol of Durga with four arms, one of Vishnu, also with four arms, and six of dvara-palaka-s (துவாரபாலகர்). The corbels are of the bevelled type without roll-ornaments. The kudu-s (கூடு) have scrolls of foliage inside which are two human heads – male and female – wearing a peculiar headdress.

The dwarfs, Aivar koil, Kodumbalur

The dwarfs, Aivar koil, Kodumbalur

The temple seems to have been repaired in the 13th century when the maha-mandapam was built. Of the stone-wall enclosing the temple only some parts now remain. There is an ancient circular stone-well to the south of the main temple.

The Tripurantaka koil

Tripura-sundari, Kodumbalur

Tripura-sundari, Kodumbalur

Tripurantaka, Kodumbalur

Tripurantaka, Kodumbalur

Excavations conducted in a field a few hundred meters to the south of the Aivar-koil have brought to light the basements of the garbha-griham and ardha-mandapam of another Siva temple, and a number of idols, among which is a lingam with broken parts of its pedestal. The most interesting of these finds is a group of Tripurantaka-moorthi (திரிபுராந்தக மூர்த்தி), Tripura-sundari (திரிபுரசுந்தரி) and Tripura demons.

These images are now housed in the Government Museum at Chennai. These are perhaps the finest sculpture of the region.

The Nandi

The nandi, Kodumbalur

The nandi, Kodumbalur

The large stone nandi, measuring 6 œ feet high, about 9 feet long and 10 feet round the body, is comparable for artistic skill and majesty of appearance with the nandi in the Thanjavur temple, but the latter is larger. Attempts to remove it to Pudukkottai proved futile, and it stands now near the Vattam-katcheri (வட்டம் கச்சேரி) not far from the road.

shot