Rajagopalaswamy Temple, Mannargudi – History
The temple was first constructed by Kulothunga Chola I (1070-1125 A.D.), with bricks and mortar, indicated by various stone inscription found in the site. The place Mannargudi is termed Sri Rajathi Raja Chathurvedhi Mangalam and the town started to grow around the temple. Successive kings of the Chola empire, Rajaraja Chola III, Rajendra Chola III and kings of Thanjavur Nayaks, Achyuta Deva Raya expanded the temple. The temple contains inscriptions of the Hoysala kings and some Vijayanagara grants, and many records of the later Nayaks and Marathas. The Thanjavur Nayaks made the temple as their dynastic and primary shrine and made significant additions.
The current temple structure, hall of 1000 pillars, main gopuram (temple gateway tower) and the big compound wall around the temple was built by the king Vijayaraghava Nayak (1532-1575 A.D.). Raghunathabhyudayam, a doctrine by Nayaks explains the donation of armour studded with precious stones to the main deity by the king. He erected the big tower in the temple so that he can view the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple from the top of Mannargudi. The Nayaks were specially interested in music and it was promoted in both the temples. Instruments like Mukhavina, Dande, Kombu, Chandravalaya, Bheri and Nadhaswaram were commonly used in the temple service.
According to historian K.V. Soundararajan, the Ranganatha temples in South India built during the 9th and 10th centuries have a systematic arrangement of subsidiary deities as seen in this temple along with the Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple at Koviladi, Sowmya Narayana Perumal temple at Thirukoshtiyur, Veeraraghava Perumal Temple at Mannargudi and Rangantha temple at Srirangapatna. This place is also known as Champakaaranya Kshetram.