Nayak legacy at Big Temple comes to light


Share post:

Going against the popular belief that the great temple of Thanjavur was built entirely by Rajaraja Chola, a group of archaeologists claim that most temples in the state were not built during one particular era but were added upon by successive dynasties and kingdoms.

7316142nFkBhGXyBG_phThey claim the temples retain only some of the basic elements of a specific era, mainly the Pallava era, while rest of the features were added by rulers of successive Chola, Pandiya, Vijayanagara and Nayak regimes. In fact, many additions made by these regimes, especially the Nayaks, has enriched the temple architecture and sculptures of the Pallavas — the original inhabitants of Chola Mandalam or Coromandel.

“For example, the great temple at Thanjavur is not totally the work of Rajaraja I, the illustrious Chola emperor (AD 986-1014). In fact, the shrine of Skanda (Murugan) and the gargantuan Nandi and the pavilion (Nandi mandapa) in the temple were added during the Nayaka time between the 16th and 17th centuries).

Most scholars have so far concentrated on the original Pallava and Chola contributions and have not turned their attention to the additions made after their time,” J Soundararajan, assistant professor of department of ancient history and archaeology, University of Madras, told The Times Of India, on the sidelines of the two-day national seminar on “Pallava temples with Nayaka additions in the Chennai region: A historical survey”. The seminar was inaugurated by the University vice chancellor, G Thiruvasagam on Thursday.

Recent studies done by V Latha and RKK Rajarajan, research scholars at the Tamil University in Thanjavur, are in agreement with Soundararajan’s views.

While the former concentrated on the Pandiyan rock-cut temples in Pudukkottai region, the latter looked at temples in the four Nayak zones of Madurai, Thanjavur, Ginjee and Keladi-Ikkeri.

Originally, a small rock-cut complex in Tirupparankundram, over the years, several mandapas, rayagopura, teppakkulam (tank of the raft) and vahanas had been built at the temple.

Similarly, there are examples in the Chennai region where the original temples are of the early Chola period while the mandapas, subsidiary shrines and gopuras are of later period. Good examples are the temples in Tiruvorriyur, Tiruverkadu, and those in the Pallava metropolis, Kanchipuram.

“Nayakas also refined to some extent the Vijayanagar tradition in Dravidian temple architecture for almost two centuries. The Subramanya temple in Thanjavar is a good example,” said C B Kamati, assistant professor in History, GI Bagewadi College, Belgaum (Karnataka).

Experts also argued that though the Pallavas introduced stone as the medium for the erection of temples, the additions made by Nayakas were equally significant.

While the temples during Pallava era remained small in size, restricting its limits to sanctum sanctorum, it were the subsequent rulers, especially the Nayaks, who built the mandapas, gopurams, stucco images and vahanas (temple cars). “Pallava style of temple architecture was to built small shines.

Subsequent rulers like the Nayaks expanded these shrines into big temples with gopurams and sabha mandapas. It was also part of renovation work taken up by these rulers because most of the original temples built during Pallava time were either destroyed or dilapidated,” said P Venkatesan, deputy director (south zone – Bangalore), Archaeological Survey of India.

Source: The Times of India [February 11, 2011]



Related articles

Discovery of the Musket Ball Cluster

The newly discovered galaxy cluster is called DLSCL J0916.2+2951. It is similar to the Bullet Cluster, the first...

Hubble observes one-of-a-kind star nicknamed ‘Nasty’

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose...

Ancient site found in eastern Oman

The exploration team of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has commenced documenting and exploring a new archaeological...

China’s earliest imperial jade seal found in Shaanxi province

China's earliest imperial jade seal has been found in Northwest China's Shaanxi province. China's earliest imperial jade seal, found...

The party’s over for these youthful compact galaxies

Researchers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have uncovered young, massive, compact galaxies whose raucous...

Scientists sequence genome of longest-lived mammal

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have sequenced the genome of the bowhead whale, estimated to live for...

New findings explain synchronous deglaciation that occurred 17,700 years ago

New findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Desert Research Institute (DRI) Professor...

Thawing permafrost could release vast amounts of carbon and accelerate climate change by end of century

Billions of tons of carbon trapped in high-latitude permafrost may be released into the atmosphere by the end...