Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Date with Cholas

If Kalki can inspire three guys to go in search of Chola history even fifty years after the completion of his work, "Ponniyin Selvan", then he is truly the man who defied death('Amarar').

The three guys were none other than myself, Srivathsan and Prabhakar. Over the long weekend we had been to the South to witness the magnitude of the Chola constructions.

Thanjavur:
There's enough information about the Brihadeeswara temple in the world wide web. The beauty of the temple is that, it is not as dilapidated as some of the other Chola constructions. Barring a few, most of the sculptures on the walls and the inscriptions are clear. Hats off to the Archealogical Survey of India for doing a great job in preserving the heritage.

Our primary aim was to find the name of the "Ponniyin Selvan" hero Vanthiyathevan's name in the inscriptions. Seems like his name has been inscribed on the South side walls. Srivathsan had done some homework about the fonts of those centuries and with the help of that we were able to identify the letters from the walls which initally appeared to be the notebook of a Pre-KG kid. But our efforts were in vain.

Thiruvayyaru:
We went here only out of my curiosity to see Swami Thyagaraja's samadhi. The samadhi is located in a beautiful place alongside the river Kaveri. The ambience(if one ignores the faint stink) brings an unexplainable feeling of divinty which is just apt to recite Carnatic music.

There is a huge temple dedicated to Lord Shiva here. We couldn't much trace the history of this temple. But it is second to none in its enormity. It is said that Lord Shiva appeared in front of "Appar perumaan", one of the famous Naayanmaars in this temple when the latter was taking his holy dip in the temple tank.

Mannargudi:
We went there after having heard that the moolavar at Rajagopala Swamy temple is very beautiful. From what we could observed we guessed that this temple as we see today was not built by a single king. The pillars were dissimilar with each other and at some places the original walls were plastered and white washed.

Thiruvaaroor:
The Thyagaraja Swamy temple here also had a few inscriptions on the inner compound walls, and by this time we were able to identify most of the letters. Although we identified several words, we couldn't form meaningful sentences or phrases with them.

Darasuram:
This place is very close to Kumbakonam and so far this remains the best temple we had ever seen. This temple was built by King Raja Raja II who ruled from 1150 AD. Not a single stone resembles the style of his forefathers' temples.

If Raja Raja I and Rajendra had built temples with sculptures packed on the walls, Raja Raja II had gone a step further and even decorated the windows and roofs with sculptures. The Nayakkar kings of the 17th century had filled the temple with sand upto three feet and painted the sculptures in the main Vimanam. Once again ASI had done a great job in reclaiming the temple and restoring its originality.

Gangai Konda Cholapuram:
This was my second visit here. This is the most eroded and damaged of the three Chola temples. Most of the original walls are not be seen and what we see today are made of mere stone blocks. ASI is doing some renovation here.

Still the main vimanam is very majestic. The sculptures here look very very handsome.

We missed out on another Chola temple built by Kulothunga III at Thiribhuvanam. Decoding the inscriptions and the sculptures is very interesting. Srivathsan has captured the inscriptions of the entire wall on the Southern side and we hope to identify "Vanthiyathevan" very soon.

Prabhakar has taken pictures that could amount to GBs. Will upload the best among them later.

9 Comments:

Blogger srivat said...

Bala,
Found him.Check out my blog.

10:58 AM  
Blogger blogSurya said...

May be can letter to ASI for some further improvements to save our heritage.
Public should respond and feel proud for what ASI has achieved.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Yadhvi said...

Bala,
That was a great travelogue! You guys are really making me feel jealous! I too have read 'Ponniyin Selvan' recently and am awe-struck by the Cholas!

6:35 AM  
Anonymous b a l a j i said...

lokesh,

surely public has an important role in preserving our glorious heritage

7:48 PM  
Anonymous b a l a j i said...

yadhvi,
Thanks and it was a trip to remember. You must see Prabhakar's photos to appreciate what we saw.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Ramya said...

What makes you take these trips? Good compilation...

7:11 AM  
Blogger rajesh said...

Great quest to understand our history!

9:08 AM  
Anonymous b a l a j i said...

Ramya,
I seriously mean it....I do not have anything better to do.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous b a l a j i said...

raapi,
now history appears much more interesting than it did in my 6th standard

8:36 PM  

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