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.    


  1. Mr SPS,
    A simple and fantastic compilation. I was looking for something like this desparately for quite a long time. I am not sure whether there is any other such postings in the net but I hadn't found any in my desperate search so far. When I compiled the Directory of temples around Kumbakonam I was desparately looking for some information in and around Pazhayarai and I could not find anything useful. I also posted some of my doubts in my Kumbakonam Directory and sadly no one has clarified them also till today though your posting has clarified many (not all) of my doubts.

    I am surprised that with so many ancient architect lovers and Chola fans in the circle today, why there is so much lack of information in the net? I could guess only these - there is lethargy and there is no money in this (of course, lack of skill is also there which can not be blamed).

    SADLY NO ONE WANTS TO GIVE AWAY ANYTHING FOR FREE. WHEREAS IF THERE IS A MONEY IN SOMETHING, THERE WILL BE 100S OF TAKERS FOR THAT. It could be harsh but I sincerely believe that whatever little amount of information available in the net about Rajaraja and the Tanjore temple also is because, there is money in it. All their love towards history and Rajaraja chola is just fake and insincere! I know this is too harsh a statement and I will get a bang from many corners but I don't care..

    Similarly I find there is a void in the documentation of the current day places connected with the history of Cholas. As a simple example, if some new comers get so much attracted with our past and the history of Cholas after reading Ponnyin Selvan or Udayar or whatever and if they want to take a detour of the places connected with that history there is not a single website / blog / blog post to guide them properly. I already have such thrilled people (youngsters as well as elders) and I am unable to answer so many of their questions even after searching the net. Today our youth have the free weekends, bullets and four wheelers, and money; the roads are good and they want to relax their minds in a very useful way. If the history experts don't take some sincere effort to document and guide them properly, then there is no point in crying that we don't take pride in our past, art and culture!

  2. if one goes to Saraswati Mahal of Tanjore,one will certainly get loads of information regarding chola dynasties and many many more. there are so many detailed history books available there.

  3. Greetings !
    While browsing for information on 'Pazhayarai' , the capital of Chola Dynasty, I happended to read this post published by Mr Sivapathasekaran. As mentioned by Shri Shantiraju, this post has been packed with a lot of stuff and is a real treasure for history lovers ! Thanks a lot...Krishnamoorthi

  4. Great narration.
    All Chola emperor souls bless you immensely

  5. பழையாறை பற்றிய தொல்லியல் துறை ஆராய்ச்சி :
    பழையாறை இடைக்கால சோழர்கள் இரண்டாம் தலைநகரமாக இருந்த ஊர் . இந்த ஊர் கும்பகோணத்தில் இருந்து சரியாக 7 கி.மீ தொலைவில் அமைந்துள்ளது.
    தொல்லியல் துறை ஆராய்சியில் இந்த பழையாறை பகுதியில் இடைக்கால சோழர்களால் பயன்படுத்தப்பட்ட கண்ணாடி வளையல் , மணிகள் , காதணிகள் , நீர் வெளியேற்றும் குழாய்கள், கைப்பிடிகள் , சுடுமண் விளக்கு போன்ற அறிய பொருட்கள் கண்டெடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
    முதுமக்கள் தாழி நந்தன்மேடு பகுதியில் கண்டெடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
    தமிழக தொல்லியல் துறை நடத்திய தொல் பொருள் ஆராச்சியில் கிடைக்கப்பட்ட தகவல்கள் இவை.
    இது மட்டும் அல்லாமல் இந்த ஊரை சுற்றி உள்ள பெரிய கோவில்கள் அனைத்தும் கிட்டத்தட்ட 1000 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு கட்ட பட்டது.
    கி.பி 6ம் நூற்றாண்டில் கட்டப்பட்ட கற்கோவில் இன்றும் அதன் பழமை மாறாமல் உள்ளது.
    இந்த ஊரை உள்ள சுற்றி உள்ள கோவில்களின் பெயர்கள் ,
    துர்க்கை அம்மன் கோவில் (சோழர்கள் குல தெய்வமாய் வழிபட்ட கோவில், பட்டீஸ்வரம் )
    ஐராவதேஸ்வரர் கோவில் ( உலக பாரம்பரிய சின்னமாக அறிவிக்கப்பட்ட கோவில்,தாராசுரம் )
    பஞ்சவன் மாதேவி பள்ளிப்படை கோவில் (உலகத்தில் சிற்றண்ணையின் நினைவாக கட்டப்பட்ட முதல் கோவில்,பட்டீஸ்வரம் )
    சோமநாத சுவாமி கோவில் (6ம் நூற்றாண்டில் கட்டப்பட்ட கற்கோவில் )
    தர்மபுரீஸ்வரர் கோவில் ( 1000ம் ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு கட்டப்பட்ட கோவில், முழையூர் )
    பரசுநாதர் கோவில் (1000ம் ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு கட்டப்பட்ட கோவில், இந்த கோவில் வைப்பு தளங்களில் ஒன்று , முழையூர்)
    கோபிநாத பெருமாள் கோவில் (திருமேற்றளிகை)
    சுவாமிமலை முருகன் கோவில் (அறுபடை வீட்டில் ஒரு கோவில் ,சுவாமிமலை)
    இப்படி இன்னும் பல பல முக்கிய புராண கோவில்கள் , கல்வெட்டுகள் உள்ள இடம் ,
    இராஜராஜ சோழன் சமாதி உள்ள இடமும் இதே பழையாறை தான் .
    1500 to 2000 ஆண்டுகளுக்கும் முன்பே நாகரிகம் வளர்ச்சி அடைந்த இந்த ஊரில் பிறந்து வளர்ந்ததர்காக பெருமை படுகின்றேன்.