Friday, March 15, 2013

Pazhayarai Temples

Pazhayarai, one of the Capitals of Chola Empire is about 5 km from Kumbakonam. During that period, the town was spread to 15 sq.miles. Pettai Naanayakkaaran street on the outskirts of Kumbakonam was bordering the then Pazhayarai Town. Mudikondan river was on  the southern end of the Town.This vast town is now broken into several small divisions .
 Pazhayar, Patteeswaram,Sakthimutram,Arichandram,Parkulam,Muzhaiyur,Ramanathan Koil,Darasuram,Konapperumal Koil , Ariyappadayur, Pambappadayur, Pudhuppadayur, Manappadayur,Rajandran Pettai are those divisions which we see now.

Excavations made in Nandan medu and Cholan Maligai have revealed that life was existing at this place since stone age. It also remained as a Temple city right from the Pallava period. Nandivarma Pallava II (710-715 A.D.) built a fort and lived here till it was attacked by a Pandyan King.Manimudi Chola ruled from here during 650 A.D. His daughter, Mangaiyarkarasi  was married to Pandian Maravarman Arikesari(also known as Koon Pandiyan and Nelveli venra Nedumaran). Nandhivarman III conquered Cholas and Pandyas and captured Pazhayarai from Cholas. Paranthaka II alias Sundara Chola (957- 970 A.D) lived here and renovated many Temples. The Town attained special attention during the regime of Raja Raja Chola I (985-1014 A.D) Rajendra Chola (1012-1044) spent his childhood here and  passed many orders. It was at this time Pazhayarai was also called as "MudiKonda Cholapuram" . Kundavai,the sisiter of Rajaraja I was living here in the palace,specially allotted to her. Rajaraja II (1146- 1168 A.D.) made Pazhayarai as his capital and built a great shrine at Darasuram. Inscriptions describe the place as Rajarajapuram and Rarasuram . Darasuram attained new heights during the period of Kulothunga Chola III. Mara Varaman Sundara Pandian invaded Chola kingdom,ruled by RajaRaja III and destroyed the palaces and downfall began for this historic town and it got divided into small villages within two centuries.

Somanathaswami Temple in Pazhayar can be reached via Muzhaiyur. Gnanasambandar  refers this place as "Aarai"  Umapathi Sivam's Siva kshetra Kali Venba refers it  by naming the Deities of the Temple as Somakalambikai and Someswarara. Amarneedhi Nayanar belonged to Pazhaiyarai. Swamimalai Temple has undertaken the renovation work of this Temple. While sculptures at the entrance showing warriors on horseback are damaged, we are left with some beautiful sculptures like Ravana lifting Kailasa giri, Ganesa and Shanmukha in the front mandapa.

The 3-tier Vimanam over the Sanctum carries images of Umasahitha & Gajasamharamurthi. Narasimha murthi is beautifully carved near the footsteps of Ambal Sannadhi. Inner Mandapam presents the image of Mangayarkarasi who was instrumental in bringing Sambandar to Madurai for the purpose of saving Saivism .

Pazhayarai Vadathali is in Muzhayur, now known as Dharmapureeswarar Temple. The elevated shrine faces east and the whole Temple, which faced extinction has been renovated fully and presents a new look. Saint Appar has sung Thevaram Hymn on this Deity after observing fast to free it from the clutches of Jains who kept it closed.

Pazhaiyarai Metrali is on the way from Thiruvalanchuzhi to Patteswaram. Sundarar has referred it in Thevaram though the complete "Padhigam"on this Temple is not available. It is said to belong to the Pallava period and a part of it has been renovated recently. The shrine is located at an elevated place. Outer wall is yet to be constructed and a board giving details of other Temples of Pazhayarai has to be kept at Patteeswaram Temple where people come in large numbers.

The west facing Temple at Pazhayarai Thenthali is under renovation. Among the mrthis on the Goshtams, those of dancing Ganesa and Ardhanari are worth mentioning.

Dheupureeswara Swami Temple at Patteswaram is a well known part of Pazhayarai. This place was also referred as Mazhapadi by Sambandar(".... Pazhasaiyul maada mazhapadiyurai Pattechcharam..." ) Palvalainaayaki is the name of the Goddess here. When Sambandar came here during hot summer, The Lord gave him a "Pandal" made of pearls. This incident is being enacted on the 1st day of the Tamil month Ani at this Temple. On seeing Sambandar's arrival under the "Pandal" The Lord ordered the Nandis to move a little so that there could be no obstruction between Him and Sambandar. This Temple is famous for its Durga Sannadhi which is worshiped by people from many parts of the country.

Sakthimutram is on the south of Patteswaram Temple. Sivakkozhundheeswarar Temple, sung by Appar is a big one and known for the famous sannadhi wherein Sakthi embraces Shiva and does Puja to Him. Inscriptions that belong to the period of RajathiRaja, Kulothunga  and Vijayanagar emperors are seen here. They describe this place as a part of Rajarajapuram(Pazhayarai).

Muzhaiyur is on the east of Patteswaram. Brilliantly carved Goshta Murthis add beauty to the Temple. This is also a place where a Veera Shaiva Mutt is located. It is said that Thuraimangalam Sivaprakasa Swamigal, Mahavidwan Meenakshisundaram Pillai and Dr U.V. Swaminatha Iyer stayed here and contributed a lot for Tamil Literature.

According to the legend, Kamadhenu,the Sacred cow of Devaloka had four daughters. Among them, Patti woshipped at Patteeswaram (place named after her); Vimali worshipped at Pazhayarai Vadathali; Sabali at Pazhayarai Metrali and Nandhini at Muzhaiyur.

The great Temple at Darasuram (Rajarajeswaram) was built by Rajaraja II (1145- 1173). In those days, Darasuram formed a part of Pazhayarai. The Temple of Airavatheswara is facing east. It is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The main shrine is at an elevated level and the front mandapam is designed as if it is drawn by Yalis and elephants. The pillars of the Mandapam have nicely carved sculptures of Thripuranthaka, Shanmukha and Divine wedding. Those of Annapurni , Adhikara Nandi,Saraswathi and Kannappa Nayanar are awesome. The Vimanam over the Sanctum follows the style of Temples at Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Emperors have donated liberally to maintain the Temple. The outer wall of the Sanctum has the sculptures depicting the lives of Nayanmars. The names of the Nayanmars are also inscibed above the respective panel. The separate shrine of The Goddess is also enriched with sculptures.

Brahmapureeswara Temple at Keezhkorkai can also be considered as a part of Pazhaiyarai as the distance from Patteeswaram is not more than 3 km. This Historic Temple was left uncared till recently. People turned blind eye over the wild growth of plants all around. The Temple would have faced ruin but for  the timely assistance of some good souls. The renovation work has started and the granite structure is carefully handled to remove the deep rooted plants. Work on front mandapam is nearing completion. The entire work may be completed before the end of the year. Murthis at Devagoshtam are outstanding examples of Chola Art. People desirous of contributing to this noble cause may contact Mr Sivakumar on his mobile,09344302966.