Thyagaraja Temple, Thiruvarur – Mandapams
Typically pillared halls with granite slab roofs, Mandapams were created as large congregation halls. Thiruvarur, being a very popular and powerful Sthala, necessarily had many such ancillary structures. Sekkizhar in his Periyapuranam describes the beauty of the Mandapams of this temple in the story of Siruthonda Nayanar. The Mandapams of this temple have all the required components as required by the Agama Sastras: the base, Peetam, The raised plinth, Upa Peetam, The layer of lotus petals in bas relief Padmam, and the crest Kumudam.
Beautifully sculpted pillars support the roof, made of large granite slabs. The fresco art on the ceiling of these Mandapams temple ranges from the early to late Chola periods. Aditya Chola I's Karuvarai and Ardhamandapam, his successors developed the temple to have a Mugamandapam and a Mahamandapam. The temple has a couple of halls like Devasiriya mandapam, Rajanarayana mandapam, Rajendra Chola mandapam. The Rajanarayana mandapam has the Simhathoon, the pillars with lion which reminded me of the similar ones in Mahabalipuram. The temple is having 13 halls in which six of them are the most prominent.
Deva Siriyam Mandapam:
The largest mandapam, the Deva Siriyam is one of the famous ancient monuments of Tamilnadu. By virtue of being the site where the great poet Sundaramurthy Nayanar created his Thiruthonduthogai, its association with this benchmark in the religious-poetic history of Tamil Shaivism remains unforgotten. As a mandapam, the sheltered open space served as a stage for Koothu, a special form of native theatre of Tamilnadu that involved music, dance, and drama in an opera style setting and the more classic and codified form of dance, Bharathanatyam. The Devasiriya Mandapam contains the still surviving ancient paintings.
Bhaktha Katchi Hall:
Bhaktha Katchi Hall is located to the left of the image of Musukuntha Nandi. The festival image of Thyagaraja arrives at this hall after the Panguni Uthiram festival.
Oonjal Hall is located opposite to the Kabatha Katchi hall. The festival images of Chandrasekharar and Sekari Amman arrive at this hall during the Thiruvadirai festival.
Thulapara Hall is named after the legend in which king Mucundaka placed Thyagaraja image of Thiruvarur in one and all others in another plate he received from Deva Indra.
Purana Hall is located in the northern part of the temple.
This artistically designed mandapam has hosted many historical events. Several inscriptions attributed to the Imperial Cholas attest that this was a popular venue to host town council meetings, and conference feudal lords and royalty to discuss national, social, business, and security issues. The Mandapa lent itself to grand occasions and was the preferred location to receive ambassadors from many nations. Of all the royalty that came and went, only the presiding Royal Deity, Thyagarajaswami and his Queen Neelothbalambal continue to hold royal court here during the Panguni Uthiram and Aathirai festivals.
The art in the Rajanarayana Thiru Mandapam has seen the effort of several generations of artisans under several regimes. Many of this remains juxtaposed with the oldest sculptures blending in seamlessly with the new. Sculptures of lions embellish the pillars supporting the roof. On the ceiling are many beautiful sculptures of women in dance postures. Rajanarayana Hall is a public hall for localities of Thiruvarur.
Rajendra Chola Hall:
The great king Rajendra Chola I conquered Kadram (Malaysia), Sri Vijaya (Sumatra), and Mappalam (Bali). A pious woman called Nangai Nallal Paravai however conquered his heart. Inscriptions say that this woman inspired this king to build a new mandapam and make several additions to the temple. He is credited with the current edifice that houses the Main Deity. Through a process of dedication, the mandapam called the "Sabhapathi Mandapam" may be this king's creation. This hall houses the museum of the temple.