Friday, 18 December 2009

திருக்கோயில் வரலாறு

Amirthaghateshvara Temple (built 12th century or earlier)

This small temple occupies a unique place in the history of South Indian temple architecture. It is situated in the village of Melakkadambur,-post 32 km. S.W. from Chidambaram and 6 km. from Kattumannargudi, in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu608304. Near the southern tip of the Viranam Eri, a large irrigation reservoir constructed by the Chola king Parantaka I (907-955)

Two inscriptions engraved on the walls of the temple belonging to the 41st and the 43rd year of the reign of the Chola king Kulottunga I (1070-1120) indicate the temple existed in this form by the early 12th century. But the existence of a hymn composed by the saint-poet (Nayanmar) Appar dedicated to the presiding deity of this temple shows it was already a renowned sacred place in the 7th century CE.

It is a very interesting temple from an architectural, iconographical, and art-historical point of view. It is believed to be the earliest shrine constructed in the form of a ratha or chariot. This architectural concept was applied in many temples constructed during the later phases of the Chola empire, and also by later South Indian dynasties. It reached its pinnacle in the grand Sun temple of Konarak in Orissa, build by Narasimha Deva, a king belonging to the Ganga dynasty around the year 1278. The sculptural work of the Amritaghatesvara temple is very rich, elaborate and detailed. Chola sculptors have left us many master pieces and the sculpture of this temple is some of the best from their hands.

The shrine faces East and has been devised as a chariot or ratha, with four wheels and two horses. It is a dvitala (two-storey) structure, with an octagonal griva (neck) and a round shikhara (dome). The garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) is square with one niche in each wall, three niches in total. The base of the niches projects slightly out of the wall. The kapota (cornice) of the roof is straight but where there would have been a projection in the kapota this part is substituted by the large inserted kudu. The 3 niches are designed as projecting shrines, almost independent of the wall, with free standing pillars and their own cornice and roof. This design is rare, the only other place where I know of a similar design is found in the niches of the Nritta Sabha in the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. The Nritta Sabha is a mandapa or hall, not a shrine. It too is built in the form of a ratha or chariot.

Above each niche is a large kudu which interrupts the kapota. This is a unique device found only in this temple, as far as I know. Set in the kudu is another niche with a sculpture of the deity according to the direction. The niches are flanked by rearing lions and attendant figures placed between pilasters, but not in a niche.

The ardhamandapa (front-hall) is slightly narrower than the sanctum, and is directly attached to the front of the sanctum. It also has a niche in each wall, north and south, but these are designed differently from the niches in the garbha-griha walls. Taller, and without the kudu, but with smaller sculptures right and left in front of the small traditional kudus set in the kapota. Each niche is occupied by a deity, with attendant divinities in secondary niches flanking the central niche. The secondary niches are designed more as traditional Chola niches, although still quite elaborate and detailed. Another niche with a sculpture of a deity is situated above the kapota capping the secondary niches, instead of the customary makara-torana. And an unusually large kudu, independent from the kapota crowns this upper niche. The secondary niches on the northern wall are much higher and the niche crowning it are consequently smaller. These too are crowned by a large independent kudu.

The upapitha/upana (base) is plane[?]. The adhisthana (the sockle) consists of several mouldings (from bottom up); - a double layer of lotus petals - jagati (straight and undecorated) - kumuda (round and ribbed) - kantha (neck): decorated with miniature freezes - pattika (undecorated) - kantha (neck): decorated with miniature freezes and miniature panels under the pilasters

The kal or pilasters are composed of a square base with octagonal malasthana, kalasha, kumbha and kamala. The whole is capped with the usual square palagai. [photo 9] The podigai or capitol shows the typology of the phase of Later Chola architecture. [photo 27] Just under the roof and the kapota (cornice) where we typically would have found a bhutagana frieze showing frolicking dwarf-like followers of Shiva in an Early Chola temple, we find a frieze of sculptural panels. Its subject matter cannot be discerned as it is partly hidden behind the larger bracket figures of dancers and lions.

In front of the original shrine is a closed mukha mandapa of a later date. And in front of this is a pillared mandapa that possibly dates to the 14th or 15th century. It is partially open to the East and the South, but is closed on the North. Projecting from the northern wall and facing south a subsidiary shrine for the consort of the presiding deity of the temple has been constructed, also probably at a later date.

The roof has miniature shrines on the corners that are much more elaborate than the karnakutis usually found on the corners of the roof of dvi-tala temples. And there are no shalas or barrel-roof rectangular miniature shrines at the center, which would have been the usual structural decoration in this place. The shalas have been replaced by the large kudus housing in their turn a niche with the sculpture of a deity. The miniature shrines on the corners are replicas of eka-tala (one-storey) temples. A square shrine with projecting niches with deities inside the niches, flanked by pilasters and dancers on the corners. A griva or neck with griva-niches, again decorated with figures, and a full-blown shikhara with kudus and stupi. All the kapotas (cornices) of this temple, both of the roof and the niches, are ribbed. This is very unusual, if not unique.

The octagonal wall of the second tala has niches with deities on the cardinal directions. And above these there are the usual griva-niches with resident deities, according the cardinal directions Shiva Dakshinamurti facing south, Vishnu facing west, and Brahma facing north. So each of the three walls of the sanctum has four levels of niches one above the other from the main central niche up to the griva niche with representations of the deities appropriate for the cardinal directions.

The sculptural plan is unusually elaborate and intricate. The following deities and semi-divinebeings are depicted as the main niche figures in the following order (clockwise):

On the south wall of the ardhamandapam: * Ganapati * arthanari* Agastya

On the south wall of the sanctum: * Indra * Dakshinamurti * Romasa Muni

On the west wall of the sanctum: * Chandra * Vishnu * Surya

On the north wall: * Parvataraja * Brahma * Patanjali

On the north wall of the ardhamandapa: * Gangadhara * Alinginamurti * Durga

The niche sculptures are labeled in 12th century Tamil and Grantha (Sanskrit) script and relate to the sthalapurana or foundation myth of this temple. Besides these main figures there are countless subsidiary niches, sculptures and decorations. The temple is covered with miniatures, scrollwork, lions, dancers and musicians occupying practically every part of its surface.

Balasubrahmanyam, S.R. Later Chola Temples (A.D.1070-1280)
Mudgala Trust, 1979. Madras

Barret, D. Early Chola Architecture and Sculpture
Publisher, 1974. London

Hoekveld-Meijer, G. Koyils in the Colamandalam. Typology and Development of Early Cola Temples. An art-historical study based on geographical principles.
PhD. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1981. Amsterdam

Meister, Michael W. Encyclopaedia of Indian Temple Architecture. South India. Lower Dravidadesha. 200 B.C.-A.D. 1324
University of Pensylvania Press, 1983. Delhi

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