Over 20 inscriptions highlight antiquity of Velachery

Updated by admin on Saturday, October 03, 2020 09:48 PM IST

Chennai: Chennai Maadham (Chennai Month) SERIES– VELACHERY Part 1:

Velachery is a bustling place now, providing a link as it were to the Old Mamallapuram Road (OMR) and the East Coast Road, and the rest of Chennai region, housing modern IT complexes and multi-storeyed blocks, yet it is as ancient as can be. However, this is an ancient place, with more than 20 inscriptions from 10th CE itself, more than 1,000 years ago. Chennai 2000 Plus Trust records here the first part of the articles on Velachery as part of the Chennai Maadham (Chennai Month) celebrations.

The epigraphs of Velachery maintain that Velichery was a part of Puliyur Kottam which has a history of over 2,000 years as the ancient Chennai region.
Velachery, situated a few kms south-east of Guindy, is famous for its two small Chola temples, the Dandishvara temple and the Chelliamman temple. The Dandishvara temple is in a neglected condition.  The vimana of the central shrine is a medium-sized one, 6.72 metres high. The vimana, cubical in form, has a well-marked kudu on each side. Though the vimana does not contain niches or images like the Tirumullaivayil temple, it still has a beauty of its own due to its simplicity.

Almost all the walls of the sanctum have Chola epigraphs, the earliest going back to the days of  the son of the Chola king Parantaka I, Gangaraditya (10th century AD) (306 of 1911 – there is also 315 of 1911 which is on the south wall).  This epigraph is carved on the western wall of the central shrine.  Other epigraphs of later date, belonging to Rajaraja I (on the north wall), Rajendra I (on the north and west walls), Kulotunga III (on the north and west walls), and others clearly establish the antiquity of the structure (302-305 and 307-314 of 1911).

The inscriptions of Chola king Rajaraja I (985-1014) have been found in Velachery, besides Santhome (Mayilapur), Tiruvottriyur, Padi, Velachery, Puliyur, Poonamallee and Pallavaram.

The Velachery epigraphs record the name of this place as Velicheri and as Jina-chintamani-chaturvedimangalam. The deity was worshipped by several names such as Thiru-dandishvara-deva, Thiru-dandishvaram-udaiyar, Thiru-dandishwaram-udaiya-nayanar and Thiru-dandishwaram-udaiya-Mahadeva. The epigraphs also refer to the administrative organisation of this village called sabha.

The Chennai region has about 25 inscriptions relating to successor of Rajaraja I, Chola king Rajendra I (1012-1044) including Santhome (Mayilapur), Tiruvottriyur, Thiruvanmiyur, Poonamallee, Thirumullaivayil and Velachery. Their dates range between the second and thirty second years of Rajendra’s reign.
An epigraph found on the northern wall of the main sanctum of the Dandeeswara temple, Velachery records a land gift made by a philanthropist named Sedhiraya devan in favour of a mutt named after Tirunavukkarasar and located at Tiruvanmiyur. The land thus gifted was situated in Jinachinthamani Chathurvedimangalam also known as Velichery. This inscription was written in the twentyfifth regnal year of Tribhuvanachakravarthy Kulothunga Choladeva III, who conquered Madura and severed the head of the Pandya ruler.
Dandeeswarar Temple is a Shiva temple said to have been built on the earlier version of the temple during the Pallava reign and it was further repaired and rebuilt during the Chola reign. The temple complex consists of a main temple complex and a tank, and is 2 kilometres towards the east from The temple is administered by the HR & CE Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

Chelliamman temple is an extremely small one. Its vimana is compact but varies in pattern from that of the Dandishvara temple. It also has two early Chola inscriptions belonging to Parantaka I and Parthivendravarman on the south wall. Being a small temple, it has no mandapa or pillars to speak of. 
What catches one’s eye and moves one in Velachery are the several exquisite stone images of Vishnu and his Ubhayanachimars that are lying on the streets –open to the sky, without a canopy or cover. Three of the images are nearly 1.82 metres high and are in a sitting posture. The villagers say these images had come from a ruined and empty temple in Velachery.

The Yoga Narasimhan temple here has inscriptions over 1,000 years ago.

Another eye-catching piece is a three- foot tall bronze image of Vedanarayanar in standing posture in the local Narasimhar temple. It is said to have been discovered by accident, underneath the ground some 100 or 110 years ago.

Velachery was along with Thiruvanmiyur in Kottur nadu (305 of 1911). Kottur nadu was named after Kottur, a village near Guindy. The other name for Velachery was Dinachintamnai Chaturvedimangalam (303 of 1911).
Inscriptions of Velacheri in Puliyur Kottam

1 On the south wall of the Chelliamman temple. Chola-Uttamachöla r.y. 4. (974 A.D.) Records a gift of land as manjikkam (land not used for agriculture) by the sabhã of Velichcheri in Puliyür-köttam for the maintenance of a perpetual lamp and for offerings during the two services in the temple of KaaLaa-Pidaari.

2. On the south wall of the central shrine in the Dandiśvara temple. Chola - Madurai Konda Koviräjakesari (Parantaka-Il:Sundara Chöla) r.y. 5 (962 A.D.) Records that one Dēvakumara-Kramavittan of Tennür, one of the members of the administrative assembly (aalunganam) of Velichcheri donated 96 sheep for a perpetual lamp to the temple o Dandiśvara at Velichchěri in Köttür-nädu a sub division of Puliyur-köttam.

3. On the west wall of the central shrine in the Dandlśvara temple. Chola Madurai konda Köviräjakesari (Sundara chöla) r.y.7 (964 A.D.) Registers a gift of land by purchase from the sabha of Velichcheri in Puliyür-köttam by two vellala brothers of onpadirruvēli in Ārkattuk-kürram İn Cholanadu to the temple of at Tiruttandiśvaram at Velichchěri. The gift was to be used by the sivabrähmanas of the temple for maintaining a perpetual lamp and for providing food offerings to the deity Ganapathi consecrated in the temple by donors.

4 On the south wall of the Chelliamman temple. Chöla – Parthivěndraädhipativarman (956-969 CE) r.y. 10 (966 A.D.) Records that the mahasabha of Velichcheri in Puliyur-kottam remitted taxes in a land granted for daily offerings in the shrine of Saptamaätris in the village by Tiruvetpur- Udaiyan Tevadigal of Tiruvetpur in Mala nadu a sub division of Chola –nadu.
This document records that the assembly of Velichcheri exempted taxes on a land granted for the sacred daily offering to the Saptamatris[6] of this village, by a native of [Ma]la-nadu in Sola-nadu.  The worship of the Seven Mothers and the designation of the priests who called themselves Matrisivas deserve special attention.
Hail ! Prosperity ! In the 10th year of (the reign of) king Parthivendradhipativarman (956-969 CE), (966 CE) we (the members) of big assembly of Velichcheri in Puliyurkottam (wrote this) : — Tiruvetpur-udaiyan Tevadigal of Tiruvetpur in [Ma]la-nadu, (a subdivision) of Sola-nadu provided for one sacred offering each day (to continue) as long as the moon to the Saptamatris of our village.  For this he purchased and gave two hundred kuli of land which comprised four tadis (and was calledPudipakkanseruvu, a paddy field on the southern side of this village and (also) land (kuli) (measuring) five hundred and thirty-one and a half and half kani in (the field calledIranderri.  We (the members) of the big assembly ordered the exemption of all taxes (on these lands) and made (them) tax-free.  We the Matrisivas who own this sacred temple (srikoil) shall ourselves take possession of these lands and shall offer one sacred offering daily (to the goddesses).  Kaliya-bhattar having effected this (transaction) had it engraved (on stone).

5 On the south wall of the Dandisvara temple, Chola-Rajakesari Mummudi Chöla (Rajaraja I) r.y. 10 (995 AD), Records gift of land for offerings and lamps to the temple of Taramani Mahadeva in the hamlet of Velichcheri in Kottur-nadu, a sub division of Puliyur Kottam.  Mentions Amudag Pichchan alias Sembiyan Kila-nattukon, a native of Vaigaavarchcheri in Kilaar –kurram which was a district of Chölanädu.

6. On the south wall of the central shrine of the Dandiśvara temple. Chola Rajaraja l ry, 9 (1004 A.D.) Records gift of 90 sheep for a lamp to the god Tirukkarali-Mahadeva in the temple of Tiruttandiśvaram at Velichcheri of Puliyur Kottam by Naräyana Bhattan son of Pathangi Chaturvedi Bhattan, one of the aalunganam of the village.

7. On the west wall of the Dandiśvara temple. Chola-Köparakésari Sri Rajendrachola déva (Rajendra I) r.y.3 (1015 AD). Records gift of 90 sheep for a perpetual lamp by Pathangi Kaala Kumara Kramavittan, one of the managing members (aalunganam) in the village of Velichchěri, a brahmadeyam in Kottur-nadu, which was a sub-division of Puliyür-köttam in Jayangondanchola mandalam to the temple of Tiruttandiśvara déva.

8. On the west wall of the Dandiśvara temple. Chola-Köparakesari Sri Räjendrachola deva (Rajendra I) r.y. 3 (1015 AD). Records gift of 90 sheep for burning a perpetual lamp to the temple Tiruttandiśvara Mahadeva at Velichchěri of Köttür-nada in Puliyür-kottam, a sub-division of Jayańgondachola mandalam.

9. On the north wall of the Dandiśvara temple. Chola – Räjendra I r.y. 6 (1018 A.D.). Records gift of 90 sheep for a lamp to the temple of Tiruttandiśvaramudaiya-Mahadeva at Velichcheri, a brahmadeya, in Puliyür-kottam in a sub-division of Jayangondacholamandalam by a Nańgai Saani, the wife of one of the managing members (aalunganattar) of the village.

10 Records that the Singapperumal temple was constructed by Nangai Saani, wife of Pathangi Devanatha Bhattan of Velichchéri. She sold farm land to one Pathangi Aaraav amudhu Battan, received 20 pazhankaăsu and handed over the same to the sthapathi as remuneration for undertaking this temple construction.

11 On the north west and south kumudha of Dandisvara temple Chöla Rajendra-I r.y. 10 (1022 A.D.). Records that the assembly of Velichcheri, a brahmadeya in Köttur-nadu of Puliyür-köttam, sold 1500 kuzhi of land to the temple of and Tirutandiśvaram udaiya Mahädeva and receiving 300 kaasu made the land tax free. Record also that 23 kaäsu were presented for a perpetual lamp by one of the managing members (aalunganam), Pathangi Narasinga Kramavithan,  of the village.

12. On the north wall of the Dandísvara temple. Chöla Kulottunga-111. r.y. 25 (1203 AD), Records gift of 10 veli land by Sediraayadeva to the matha of Thirunävukkarasu at Tiruvänmiyür in Kulöttunga-chöla Vala-nadu in Jayańgonda chola mandalam. The land granted was situated in Velichcheri alias Jinachintämani Chaturvedimańgalam.

13 On the west wall of the Dandiśvara temple. Kulöttunga-III r.y. 25 (1203 A.D.). Records agreement made by sivabrahmanas of the Tiruttandlśvara temple at Velichcheri in Puliyür-köttam, a sub-division of Jayaigondachöla mandalam, to burn two twilight lamps in the temple for some amount received by them from Pattangi Satta Bhatțan.

14. , On the south wall of the central shrine in the Dandiśvara temple. Late Pallava . Kõpperujinga deva-II  r.y. 18 (1261 AD.) Registers gift of nine panam for burning a twilight lamp for seven naaligai in the temple of Tiruttandiśvaramudaiya Nayanär at Velichcheri alias Jinachintămani Chaturvědimangalam by Marududaiyan Söran Ariyayadanan of Klrangudi in Chola magdalam.

15.  On the west wall of the Dandiśvara temple. Chola Rajäräja II  r.y. 7 (1153 A.D.) Records gift of money for two lamps by the karanattaan of Velichcheri alias Jinachintamani Chaturvedimangalam in Kottur Nadu of Puliyur Kottam  alias Kulottunga chöla Valanadu in Jayankondachola mandalam to the temple of Tiruttandisvaram udaiya Nayanär.

16. On the south wall of the Dandisvara temple. Chola - Tribhuvana Sri Rajaraja deva (Rajaräja lII)  r.y 22 (1238 AD). Records gift of one madai for a twilight lamp to the image of Nayanar Tiruchchirambalam-Udaiyar (Nataraja) set up in the temple Tiruttandisvaram-Udaiya Nayanar by Uttamapriyan Alvar Pillai of Velichchèri alias Jinachintamani Chaturvedimangalam of Kottur-Nadu in Puliyür-köttam alias Kulottungachola Valanadu a sub division of Jayangondachola mandalam.

17.  A slab built on the ceiling of the Vedanäryanap perumal temple. Chola RajarajaI r.y. 24 (1009 A.D.,) Records an order of Rajaräja I to the village administration that income from the lands and taxes may be utilized for offerings.

18. On the ceiling of the Vedanáryanap perumal temple. Chola-Rajendra-l r.y. Nil. Fragmentary Inscription. Records the gift of sheep for burn a lamp to the temple of Tirumèrrali of Avur by Nangai, a brahmin lady. (The word Puliyur is found in the inscription).

19. The Velachery Sapta Matrikas temple is considered extra special as it has stone inscriptions of Parthivendra Varman dated 966 CE. (He is said to have belonged to the ancient Pallava dynasty and that he beheaded Vira Pandya).

20.  Another inscription dated 967 CE belonged to the period of Aditya Karikalan in the Velachery Pidari temple. All the images of the temple were said to be Chola period sculptures. As in the tradition of the Grama devathai, seven bricks said to represent the Sapta Matas, reflecting an age-old tradition, can be found in this temple.

Velachery Pidari Temple

Not many of the residents know that this is one of the oldest temples of Sapta Matrikas in entire Tamil Nadu. The temple is located at a distance of around 200 metres from Dandeeswarar temple in Velachery but has a completely painted look, due to the renovation.

Sapta Matas worship is an ancient tradition in Tamil Nadu, with hundreds of temples of Sapta Matas in the name of Pidari Amman or Chelli Amman. The Velachery Sapta Matrikas temple is considered extra special as it has stone inscriptions of Parthivendra Varman dated 966 CE. (He is said to have belonged to the ancient Pallava dynasty and that he beheaded Vira Pandya).

Another inscription dated 967 CE belonged to the period of Aditya Karikalan. All the images of the temple were said to be Chola period sculptures. As in the tradition of the Grama devathai, seven bricks said to represent the Sapta Matas, reflecting an age-old tradition, can be found in this temple.

What is astonishing and shocking is that the priceless inscriptions are now missing after the temple was renovated.

By R. Rangaraj, President, Chennai 2000 Pus Trust (9841010821, rangaraaj2021@gmail.com, chennai2000plus@gmail.com)  (Velachery Part 2 Tomorrow)


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