Monday, January 18, 2010


On both sides of the corridor from the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum housing ShikhagirIshwarar are pillars having huge, beautiful sculptures.

Me at 1000 pillar mandapam Kudumiyanmalai - 24th April 2009
 As pre Kailash yatra preparation along with 5 friends we made a mini yatra to some Tamilnadu temples. Among the temples visited were:-



Vellore Golden temple

Gangaikonta Chola Puram




Uchi Pillaiyar and

I wanted to write in my blog about these wonderful temple, then I came across these article written in 'The Hindu' newspaper. As all the relevent information were contain in these I thought of reproducing everyhing for readers benefit. 
Almost all the photos that appears in this post are mine.

Reaching Kudumiyanmalai
Kudumiyanmalai is at a distance of 20km from Pudukottai, 50 km from Trichy and 59 km from Thanjavur.
Sthala puranam 
(The story behind the name Kudumiyanmalai)

Before this place was called Kudumiyanmalai, its name was Thirunalankunram. Legend goes that the king used to visit the temple everyday in the evening and it was customary for the priest to give the prasad to the king after the evening puja. One evening, it was getting late and King Sundarapandian had still not come. Since the closing time of the temple was nearing, the priest gave the prasAd to the dasis who danced everyday at the temple. Seeing the king enter the temple just as the dasis were leaving, the priest got worried and took the flowers from the dasis who had already worn it on their hair and gave it to the king. Seeing a strand of hair on the flower, the king became suspicious and questioned the priest about the presence of hair in the flowers. Overcome by fear, the priest lied that it was from Lord Shiva’s head. Angered by the priest’s reply, the king locked him inside the temple, telling him that he would come the next day and check if the Lord did really have hair. Worried, the priest prayed to the Lord.

The next day when the king came, there was indeed a kudumi/shikha (tuft) on the Shiva linga! Becoming suspicious, the king tried to pull it from the Shiva linga, only to see blood coming from the lingam! That’s how the Shiva here got the name ShikhagirIshwarar & the place got the name, Kudumiyanmalai.

Friday Review Chennai and Tamil Nadu
The Kudumiyanmalai temple is rich in inscriptions and architecture. 
 Confluence of different styles

Idampuri Vinayaka

I gaze at the music treatise etched in stone, to the right of the Idampuri Vinayaka. “Watch out for the bees,” warns the employee of the Archaeological Survey of India, pointing to the huge bee hives on the rock. The seventh century Kudumiyanmalai inscriptions on music were discovered in 1904 by H. Krishna Sastri, a mathematician, who also knew Sanskrit, and who took up employment as an epigraphist.

The inscriptions are arranged in seven sections. Prof. Sambamurthy describes these inscriptions as the “first record to mention the solfa names of the seven notes... where the srutis are designated by resorting to the vowel changes in the name of the note and reduced to a mnemonic system of absolute notation.” There is also an inscription, which says that King Maheswara, disciple of Rudracharya, is the author of the music inscriptions, which he intended to benefit students. However, it is not clear who this king is. 
Inscriptions of musical notes 
Cave temple - Melakkoil
Inscriptions of musical notes
The music inscriptions are to the south of an east-facing rock cut temple also of seventh century origin. This cave temple is called Melakkoil or Tirumerrali. Archaeologist Dr. Kudavayil Balasubramaniam says that in the case of Pandya rock cut temples, the linga was hewn out of the same rock, as the temple took shape, resulting in one big monolith of temple and deity. The Kudumiyanmalai temple is one such monolith, and therefore a Pandya structure, he says. According to Dr. Raja Mohammed, former curator of the Pudukottai Museum, the temple is Pandya, because the linga rests on a square peetam.
Two dwarapalakas at the enterance
Outside the sanctum sanctorum are two dwarapalakas smiling smugly, with none of the sternness one would expect of security guards. The two earliest inscriptions in the cave temple are those of the Pandyas. 
The temple is rich in inscriptions, one of which, made in the 36th year of the reign of Kulottunga Chola I (1070-1118) records commercial transactions that ensured supplies to the temple. It says two people were given the right to levy brokerage on all betel leaf imported into the district. In return they had to supply the temple annually with areca nuts and betel leaves.

The panel of Siva-Parvathi with the Nayanmars
Above the Melakkoil is a rare bas-relief of Siva and Parvati on rishaba vahanam, flanked by the 63 Nayanmars. 

When the temple property was auctioned in the 13th century, Thiru-k-kaariyaan Magal Umaiyal Nachiar, a temple dancer, bought it and transferred ownership back to the temple. She later built the Soundaravalli Amman temple, near the cave temple. King Sadayavarman Veerapandian II gave the Goddess the name Thirukkaama Kottathu Aruvudai Malai Mangai Nachiar.

Built by the Cholas
The Kuduminatha temple came a few centuries after the cave temple, sometime in the 10th century. Built by the Cholas, it was renovated by the Pandyas in the 13th century and by the Vijayanagar Kings in the 15th. There is what is called a 1,000-pillared mandapam at the entrance, which, however, has only 645 pillars. The sculptures here are of Vijayanagar style. Here one finds figures of Hanuman, Sugreeva and Vali. Completely smeared with butter and vermilion, it is not possible to take in the beauty of the sculpture.

Nrisimha tearing out  Hiranayakasipu
In the Vasantha mandapam, the sculpture of Nrisimha tearing out the entrails of Hiranayakasipu, captures attention with its expression. The agony of a terrified Hiranyakasipu, whose hands and legs are held in vice like grip by the ferocious man-animal. The Rati and Manmadha figures are noteworthy for their attention to detail. The Siva in Urdhva tandava pose is a masterpiece. There are also two sculptures of soldiers on horseback, trampling down their enemies.



Sculptures in this  gorgeous vasantha mandapam.

Another explanation on how this temple got this name.
But Tamil scholar Ra.Pi. Sethupillai has a different explanation. According to him, kudumi, a Tamil, word, also meant crest of a hill. Since this temple was near a hill, it was called Sikainatha temple. He pointed to the fact that in Kannappar Puranam, the Siva in the Kalahasti temple was referred to as Kudumi Devar, because that temple too was near a hill.

Outside the Akhilandeswari shrine is a mandapam, of Nayak origin, where the ceiling is a single hexagonal slab of granite, and the floor too is a hexagonal slab of matching dimensions. Pudukottai Thondaman kings used to have their coronation ceremonies here, it is said. Now, local people now celebrate weddings here. That set the writer wondering. The temple is a great monument and will not the smoke from the homam fire damage the walls and the ceilings?

The Hindu
Renovation of `1,000-pillar' structure
Thursday, Dec 07, 2006
M. Balaganessin

 PUDUKOTTAI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has speeded up the renovation of the 1,000-pillar mandapam at the rock-cut temple of Sri Kuduminathar at Kudumiyanmalai, in Tamil Nadu's Pudukottai district. 

1,000-pillar mandapam
The 9th century temple is a store-house of rare inscriptions and carvings, and an engineering marvel. 

Although popularly referred to as the 1,000-pillar mandapam, it has 644 pillars — 322 on the northern side and an equal number on the south of the main prakara leading to the sanctum sanctorum. Over the years, the structure has been weakened, and three years ago the ASI barred the entry of devotees while renovation work is undertaken. "We took care to retain the original order of every stone structure and its beauty. At the time of removal, the pillars and beams were numbered in rows and columns, and the seriatim was maintained in all perfection while re-constructing it," said Senior Conservation Assistant P. Vasudevan. In all, 29 pillars were replaced. 

The work is being done in three stages. In the initial phase, the base stones, pillars, capital, beam and ceiling slabs were removed. Then the structures were re-arranged in the same order and reinforced using `brijally'— comprising powdered brick and `jally'. Finally, the ceiling slabs are reinforced with powdered lime and `brijally.' The ceiling has been newly provided with a series of brick ventilators to allow sunlight in, adding to the beauty. 

"Water-tightening will be followed by fixing of two layers of tiles and the entire ceiling will be plastered using lime and cement," Mr. Vasudevan said.

Sculptures of Kudumiyanmalai


All photo taken on 24 April 2009 
Nandhi at  Melakkoil

Cute little children at the temple 
Main entrance to the Temple


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