Monday, April 25, 2016

Pazhayarai Temples, Thanjavur

Pazhayarai Temples, Thanjavur
Pazhayarai or Pazhaiyarai was an ancient capital of the medieval Chola dynasty in Tamil Nadu. Presently it is located in Kumbakonam Taluk of Thanjavur District of Tamilnadu. Today there are a number of villages within the area of historic Pazhaiyarai. It is located at a distance of 4.2 kms from Darasuram. This town also has various villages like the Nandipura Vinnagaram, Patteeswaram, Harishchandrapuram and the Thirusatti Mutram. The place is believed to be the home to four ancient temples like Metrali, Vadathali, Keelthali and Thenthali.

Pazhayarai Someswarar Temple is the prime attraction of this town, which is around 3 km away from Darasuram. This temple is situated in the center of the famous Pazhayarai Village, surrounded by Pazhayarai Vadathali in the north, Arai Metrali in the west and Keezhttali in east and Thenthali in the south. The place can be reached easily by availing regular buses and mini buses from Darasuram. This place was the first Chola Dynasty’s Head Quarter. Then it was transferred to Thanjavur.

There is lot of small villages inside the historical town of Pazhayarai – Nandipura Vinnagaram, Thiru Sakthi Mutram, Patteeswaram, and Harishchandrapuram. The battle camps of the warriors namely Arya padai Veedu, Pudhu padai Veedu, Manapadai Veedu and Pambai padai Veedu are located within Pazhayarai Limits. It is believed that during Dakshinayana period one who visits the five temples around this place viz. Nallur, Thiruvalamchuli, Thirusakthimutram, Patteeswaram and Avoor is considered being a great deed in one’s life.

Pazhayarai, one of the Capitals of Chola Empire is about 5 km from Kumbakonam. During that period, the town was spread to over 15 sq. miles. Pettai Naanayakkaaran street on the outskirts of Kumbakonam was bordering the then Pazhayarai Town. Mudikondan River was on the southern end of the Town. This vast town is now broken into several small divisions like Pazhayarai, Patteeswaram, Sakthimutram, Arichandram, Parkulam, Muzhaiyur, Ramanathan Koil, Darasuram, Konapperumal Koil, Ariyapadaiyur, Pambappadayur, Puthupadayur, Manappadayur, Rajendran Pettai are those divisions which we see now.

The palace of Cholas in Chola Maligai (Maligai meaning palace) village near Patteeswaram is in ruins and there is only a mud mound now. Also, the Samadhi of Raja Raja Chola is said to be in Udayalur nearby in a private property without any big monument but there is also a controversy about the authenticity of it.

Pazhayarai Facts
Pazhayarai had limits starting from Pettai Nanayakara Theru of Kumbakonam to Mudikondan River and was a big city. Old Pazhayarai includes current day – Pazhayarai, Patteeswaram, Thirusakthimutram, Arichandram, Parkulam, Muzhaiyur, Ramanathan Koil, and Konapperumal koil, Ariyapadaiyur, Pambai Padaiyur, Puthupadayur, Manappadaiyur and Rajendran Pettai.

Pazhayarai has long history of habitation as identified from the excavation done at Nandhan medu and Cholan Maligai. There were proof that till 12th and 13th century, these places were occupied. There were temples here during the period of Mahendravarman and Narasimhavarman which was sung by Thirunavukarasar and Thirugnana Sambandar and also by Sundarar.

During Nandivarman II, this city gets into History records and got it’s another name Nandipuram. Mangayarkarasi, wife of Pandiyan was believed to be the daughter of “Manimudi Chozhan” was believed to be operating from Pazhayarai.

Various Inscriptions found show connections to Paranthaka chola, Sundara chola, Uthama Chola, Rajaraja, Rajendra and until Rajaraja III. Maravarman Sundarapandiyan did Virabhisheka at Pazhayarai. After this period, Pazhayarai should have slipped into obscurity. Vikrama Chola had a second capital at Pazhayarai.

During Rajendra Chola period, this place is known by his one of the names –Mudi konda Cholapuram. All the Chola kings have in one way or another had some of their operations from Pazhayarai - Kulothunga I has given official orders from Pazhayarai sitting from “Vanadhirayan” seat.

There are lots of small villages inside the historical town of Pazhayarai - Thiru Nandipura VinnagaramSathi MutramPatteeswaram with all their temples. There were four legendary temples, Vadathali, Keelthali, Metrali and Thenthali across four sides of the city. The Battle camps (Padai Veedu) of the warriors namely Arya padai Veedu, Pudhu padai Veedu, Manapadai Veedu and Pambai Padai Veedu are located within Pazhayarai limits. 

There was only one palace for Vijayalaya Chola, but later individual palaces were built for all the princes. The great Chola king Rajaraja I, who built the Big Temple of Thanjavur is said to have spent his last days here, the capital of his predecessors. Rajaraja Chola's final resting place is in the present-day village of Udayalur (also known as Sri Kangeyapuram), within a few kilometers from Pazhayarai. 

Excavations made in Nandhan medu and Cholan Maligai has revealed that lives were existing at this place since Stone Age. It also remained as a Temple city right from the Pallava period. Nandivarman Pallava II (710-715 A.D.) built a fort and lived here till it was attacked by a Pandyan King. Manimudi Chola ruled from here during 650 A.D. His daughter, Mangayarkarasi was married to Pandian Maravarman Arikesari (also known as Koon Pandiyan and Nelveli venra Nedumaran).

Nandivarman III conquered Cholas and Pandyas and captured Pazhayarai from Cholas. Paranthaka II alias Sundara Chola (957- 970 A.D) lived here and renovated many Temples. The Town attained special attention during the regime of Raja Raja Chola I (985-1014 A.D) Rajendra Chola (1012-1044) spent his childhood here and passed many orders. 

It was at this time Pazhayarai was also called as "Mudikonda Cholapuram". Kundavai, the sister of Rajaraja I was living here in the palace, specially allotted to her. Rajaraja II (1146- 1168 A.D.) made Pazhayarai as his capital and built a great shrine at Darasuram.

Inscriptions describe the place as Rajarajapuram and Darasuram. Darasuram attained new heights during the period of Kulothunga Chola III. Mara Varman Sundara Pandian invaded Chola kingdom, ruled by Rajaraja III and destroyed the palaces and downfall began for this historic town and it got divided into small villages within two centuries.

Pazhayarai Vadathali is in Muzhayur, now known as Dharmapureeswarar Temple. The elevated shrine faces east and the whole Temple, which faced extinction has been renovated fully and presents a new look. Saint Appar has sung Thevaram Hymn on this Deity after observing fast to free it from the clutches of Jains who kept it closed.

Pazhayarai Metrali is on the way from Thiruvalanchuzhi to Patteeswaram. Sundarar has referred it in Thevaram though the complete "Padhigam” on this Temple is not available. It is said to belong to the Pallava period and a part of it has been renovated recently. The shrine is located at an elevated place. Outer wall is yet to be constructed and a board giving details of other Temples of Pazhayarai has to be kept at Patteeswaram Temple where people come in large numbers.

Brahmmapuriswarar Temple at Keezhkorkai can also be considered as a part of Pazhayarai as the distance from Patteeswaram is not more than 3 km. This Historic Temple was left uncared till recently. People turned blind eye over the wild growth of plants all around. 

The Temple would have faced ruin but for the timely assistance of some good souls. The renovation work has started and the granite structure is carefully handled to remove the deep rooted plants. Work on front mandapam is nearing completion. The entire work may be completed before the end of the year. Murthis at Devakoshtam are outstanding examples of Chola Art.

The Temples located in and around Pazhayarai are briefed below in detail;
Brahma Gnanapureeswarar Temple, Korukkai:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Dharmapureeswarar Temple (Vallalar Kovil):
For brief details, please refer below link;
This Temple is located at a distance of 1 km north of Patteeswaram. This Temple houses Hindu God Shiva in Swayambu lingam. He is called as Chandra Mouleeswarar. His consort is called as Soundaravalli. Legend says Chandra (Moon God) worshipped Shiva here.
Gopinatha Perumal Temple, Patteeswaram:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Parasunathar Temple (Pazhayarai Thenthali):
For brief details, please refer below link;
Pazhayarai Mel Thali (Aarai Metrali):
For brief details, please refer below link;
Someswarar Temple (Keezh Pazhayarai Vadathali):
For brief details, please refer below link;
Thenupuriswarar Temple, Patteeswaram:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Sakthivanesvara Temple, Thirusakthimutram:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Nathan Kovil (Thiru Nandipura Vinnagaram Temple):
For brief details, please refer below link;
Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Veerabhathirar Temple, Darasuram:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Kothandaramar Temple, Patteeswaram:
For brief details, please refer below link;
Pazhayarai is well connected to nearby towns like Thanjavur, Darasuram, Kumbakonam and Mayiladuthurai. Pazhayarai is located 6 km away from Kumbakonam on the Kumbakonam – Aavoor Road, 2 km away from Patteeswaram and 3 km away from Darasuram. The best mode is taking town buses from Kumbakonam or mini buses from Darasuram, the bus stop is Cholan Maligai.
The Darasuram railway station is located close to the temple. Other Major Railway Stations are located at Thanjavur, Kumbakonam & Mayiladuthurai. Nearest Airport is located at Trichy. Pondicherry Airport is also located nearby.