An architectural marvel at Keluvathur
Exquisite carvings on the pedestal of the dwajasthambam.
THE SHORE temple of Mahabalipuram built by Rajasimha Pallava during the eighth century A.D. is an architectural marvel of Tamil Nadu. The contribution of the Pallavas to the field of temple art is noteworthy. In the initial stages, the Pallavas were inclined to building only monolithic structures. Later, they started constructing temples which included the shore temples of Mahabalipuram and Kailasanathar temple of Kanchipuram. The Cholas followed the footsteps of Pallavas and adopted their techniques. But they differ from the Pallavas in the construction of the Vimanas. The Vijayanagara kings and the Nayaks followed the Chola tradition. But one can find subtle differences in the ornamentation.
A temple in Keluvathur has a small vimana like mandapa for Nandi, known as rishaba, which is similar to the vimana of the shore temple of Mahabalipuram.
Keluvathur is a small village situated on the Mannargudi-Muthupet road in Tiruvarur district. While the Korayar flows in the north and east, the Bhamini river is in the west. Keluvathur has a history of more than 1,000 years. The inscriptions of the Big Temple of Thanjavur give more information about the Siva temple of Keluvathur. A staff member of the Thanjavur Big temple belonged to Arumozhideva Valamattu Purangarambai Nattu Keluvathur, according to the inscription.
Lord Siva of Keluvathur temple is known as Jadayupuriswarar. This temple, constructed during the Chola period, was renovated by a Nayak king during 16th century A.D. The king not only renovated the vimanas of Siva and Amman shrines with granites but also constructed other shrines, gopuram, Nandi shrine, dwajasthambam and balipeetam and modified the temple to shine as a repository of fine art.
The mandapam for Nandi with three-tier gopuram.
Beyond the Rajagopuram are the balipeetam, dwasjasthambam and a mandapa made of granite for Nandi with three-tier gopuram, called Rishaba. The structure of this vimana resembles the vimana of the shore temple of Mahabalipuram. Even the sigaram and kalasam are made of granite. The nandi shrine is with the Vimana. These structures were half-buried and have been excavated by the author and the villagers. The excavation brought to light many interesting features.
There are beautiful sculptures of Lord Vinayaka on the four sides of the balipeetam. All the corners of the peetam bear the images of lions. It also has upapeetam, adishtana, etc. The space, on the peetam, for the dwajasthambam, is designed as lotus petals. This is believed to be the best contribution of the Nayak Kings.
The dwajasthambam has beautiful decorations. Also seen are other sculptures, viz., of an elephant (to the east), Agni on a goat (south-east), Yama on a bull and yamadhoota, Nrithi (south-west), Varuna on Mahara (West), Vayu on a deer (north-west), Kubera on a horse (north) and Esanamoorthy on mount rishaba (north-east). More sculptures are found in the adishtana and the four pillars. Ganapathy, Adhikara nandhi, Devi Suyas and Jadayu sculptures are also found. The door jamb of the gopuram and the pillars of the mahamandapam also have attractive images. The Lingam in this mandapa is Sahasralingam. There are also shrines for Muruga, Devi, Surya, Bairava, Ganapathy, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingotbava, Arumuga and other deities. The Lingam in the sanctum sanctorum is of the Chola period and is known as Jadayupuriswarar.
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