Friday, December 25, 2015

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Thirukovilur – History

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Thirukovilur – History

Thirukkovilur is considered as one of the important cities in ancient Tamil Nadu, similar to Kanchipuram, Madurai and Thanjavur. The temple finds mention in Sangam literature in Tamil from 3rd BC to 3rd centuries CE. Akananuru, PurananuruNatrinai and Kurunthokai have mention about the temple. Malaiyaman Thirumudikkaari, the ruler of Thirukovilur, was lavished praise in the texts for his charitable disposition to the institutions. The city was sacked by Athiyaman, a Velir Chieftain during Sangam Era.

It is believed that Avvaiyar, the celebrated Sangam period poet, arranged marriage for two chieftains at this place. Poet Kapilar is believed to have found suitable grooms for king Pari's daughter Angavai and Sangavai with the help of Avvaiyar at this place and set himself up in fire. The event is commemorated every year in a huge rock called Kapilar Kundru, where a small shrine exists even in modern times.

Thirukkovilur was originally under the rule of Malayalayam chieftains and later switched hands to Miladudaiyar and again went back to Malayalayam chieftains. The Miladudaiyar had direct relationship with the Medieval Cholas, with their princess Vana Mahadevi marrying Sundara Chola and gave birth to Rajaraja I, the illustrious Chola king. This temple was originally a brick and mortar structure in the period of Parantaka Chola I (early 10th century).

The temple was patronized by the great Chola Emperors Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I. The temple was rebuilt completely with granite structure during the period of Chola Emperor Rajendra Chola II (1063–70). The temple was called Thiruvidaikazhi Azhwar temple during the rule of Rajendra Chola II as per the inscription available in this temple.

Narasimha Varma, a general of Emperor Rajendra Chola II, constructed the other shrines also in granite. There is an inscription dated to 1171 CE during the reign of Rajadhiraja Chola informs about the donation of seven Kalanju (a measure used in olden times) by a lady for the conduct of festivals of Vaikasi and Aippasi and also for the recitation of Thiruvaimozhi sung by Nammazhvar in the temple.

The temple received benevolent contributions from various Kings such as Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola, Kulothunga Chola I, Kulothunga Chola III, Vikrama Pandya, Kadava Chieftain Kopperunjinga, Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, Sadasiva Raya, Rajaraja Chediyarayan and Immadi Narasa Nayak as seen from the inscriptions in the temple.

The temple was expanded during the rule of the Vijayanagara kings and Nayaks. The temple was the fortress to the British during the Carnatic wars. It was also attacked during the days of the period of Hyder Ali. The administration of the temple is under the control of Thiru Kovilur Sri Emberumanar Jeer.