Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Raja Raja Cholan's Memorial (Samadhi), Udayalur

Raja Raja Cholan's Memorial (Samadhi), Udayalur
Raja Raja Cholan’s Memorial (Samadhi) is located at Udayalur, a village in the Kumbakonam taluk of Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu, India. Udayalur is a few kilometers away from the historic Chola dynasty stronghold town of Kizha Pazhayarai. The village was historically called "Sri Kangeyapuram".

This village is believed to be the final resting place of the Great Chola dynasty emperor Raja Raja Chola I, though it remains less known than the temples he built far off. The 1000 years old Sri Kailasanathar temple, dedicated Lord Shiva is located at Udayalur and it is believed that this temple was built by Raja Raja Cholan I.

Raja Raja Cholan – Brief History
Rajaraja Chola I (985 to 1015 CE) was an unequalled monarch who ruled the entire Southern part of India over thousand years ago, whose greatness and glory can still witnessed by the world by his magnum opus the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur. He was born Arulmozhivarman, the second son of the Parantaka Cholan II alias Sundara Cholan and Vanavan Mahadevi. His brother the crown prince the Valiant Aditha Karikalan was assassinated and there was a political instability which followed this.

Even as a youngster when all the people of the country wanted to crown him as the ruler, he declined and relinquished his right and requested his uncle to rule the mighty Chola kingdom to avoid any ill feelings in the family and waited for fifteen years to become the monarch and ruled for thirty years from 985 to 1015 which was the beginning of the golden age of Cholas.

It’s not an exaggeration to call Rajaraja Chola an all-round genius earning him the various titles which can be found in his inscriptions. He was valiant warrior and a master strategist who built his empire by his might of his army, navy and political treaties. He paid meticulous attention to the welfare and comfort of his people. His local administration and civil administration system was par excellence. Rajaraja built the Great temple of Thanjavur and covered the two hundred feet high tower with gold to signal his contribution.

The temple survives to this day in its original grandeur. It is a magnificient haven of architecture, sculpture and paintings. His rule demonstrates the equality and liberty the chola women enjoyed. His sister Kundavai and queens possessed property in their own names, which they donated to charity, temples and infirmaries and issuing orders with equal validity as that of the Emperor. Rajaraja was a staunch follower of Saivism but ensured religious tolerance and patronized all religions Saivism, Vaishnavism, Saktam, Jainism and Buddhism alike.

Samadhi (Burial Place)
Rajaraja Chola I (985 to 1015 CE) was an unequalled monarch who ruled the entire Southern part of India over thousand years ago. After a short period of illness and suffering, the emperor of Tamil Chola Empire of India passed away on 14th January 1014. Recently the half buried slanted Shiva Lingam figured in the midst of plantain field and just behind the hut of Pakirisamy's (a farmer) in Mudikondan river bed in Udayalur, Kumbakonam taluk. The site and Shiva Lingam are being claimed as Raja Raja Cholan's ashes' burial place. Both the Shiva Lingam and the inscription lead many people to link and believe the site as the pallippadai of Raja Raja Cholan - I.

Udayalur is located 32 km from Thanjavur and 6 km from Kumbakonam. The 1000 years old Sri Kailasanathar temple, dedicated Lord Shiva is located at Udayalur and it is learned that this temple was built by Raja Raja Cholan I. It is also believed that the Chola emperor has gifted this village to Ulagamuzhuthudayal, one of his wives and also named the village as Ulagamuzhuthudayalur. This name gradually transformed as Udayalur.

Paalkulathu Amman temple is another temple located on the banks of Palkulam (Ksheera Theertham) on the eastern border of the village. There is a stone pillar bearing inscriptions at the temple doorway. Previously this pillar was part of the mandapam in Pazhayarai, where in the body of Raja Raja Cholan I laid for last rites. At a later date this mandapam was demolished for unknown reasons. Eventually this pillar was taken from the demolished site and planted at Paalkulathu Amman temple. This inscription was copied during 1880 – 1910 (about 30 years of work) reported and published in the Annual Epigraphy Report during 1927 – 28.

பால்குளத்து அம்மன் கல்வெட்டுப் பாடம்:
1 ஸ்வஸ்திஸ்ரீ ஸகலபுவந சக்கரவர்த்திகள் ஸ்ரீகு
லோத்துங்க சோழ தேவற்கு யாண்டு நாற்ப
த்திரண்டாவது ஸ்ரீசிவபாதசேகரமங்கலத்து
எழுந்தருளிநின்ற ஸ்ரீராஜராஜதேவரான ஸ்ரீ
சிவபாதசேகரதேவர் திருமாளிகை முன்பில்
பெரிய திருமண்டப முன்[பி¦]லடுப்பு ஜீர்
ந்நித்தமையில் இம்மண்டபம் எடுப்பி
த்தார் பிடவூர் (பிடவூர் வேளான்) வேளா
ன் அரிகேசவனாந கச்சிராஜற்காக இவ்வூர்
நாயகம் செய்து நின்ற ஜயசிங்ககுலகா
ல வளநாட்டு குளமங்கல நாட்டு சா
த்தமங்கலத்து சாத்தமங்கலமுடை
யான் நம்பிடாரன் நாடறிபுகழன் இ
வருடன் விரதங்கொண்டு செய்தார் இ
வ்வூர் பிடாரகளில் ராஜேந்த்ரசோழனு
தைய நாயகநான ஈசானசிவரும் தேவ
நபயமாந அறங்காட்டி பிச்சரும்
Tamil Translation:
ஸ்ரீசிவபாதசேகரமங்கலம் என்னும் ஊரில் கட்டப்பட்டிருந்த ஸ்ரீஇராஜராஜதேவரான ஸ்ரீசிவபாதசேகரதேவர் திருமாளிகையின் முன்பிருந்த பெரிய திருமண்டபம் பழுதுபட்டதால் பிடவூர் வேளான் அரிகேசவனான காசிராஜன் அதைத் திருப்பணி செய்ய விழைந்தார். ஜெயசிங்ககுலகால வளநாட்டு சாத்தமங்கலத்து பிடாரன் நாடறிபுகழன் அவருக்காக இப்பணியை மேற்கொண்டார். ஸ்ரீசிவபாதசேகரமங்கலத்துப் பிடாரர்களில் இராஜேந்திர சோழன் உதைய நாகனான ஈசானசிவரும் தேவன் அபயமான அறங்காட்டிப் பிச்சரும் இப்பணிக்கு உறுதுணையாக அமைந்தனர்.)
English Translation:
The dilapidated large hall (Thiru Mandapam) before the royal palace (Thiru Maalikai) of Sri Raja Raja Thevar (also known as) Sri Sivapathaatha Shekara Thevar at Sri Sivapaada Shekara Mangalam was rebuilt on behalf of Velaan Arikesavanatha Kasirajan of the village Pidavur executed through the head of the village Sri Sivapaada Shekara Mangalam namely Jayasingha Kulakaala valanadu, Kulamangala Naatu, Saaththa Mangalaththu (Saaththa Mangalam - his native village) along with two other Pidaarer (Tamil Saiva Temple Priests) of this village (Sivapaathasekara Mangalam) named Rajendra Chola Uthaiya Nayakanaana Esaana Sivar and Thevan Abayamaana Arangkaatti Pitchchar.
The Inscription talks about three Pidaarers (Tamil Saiva Temple Priests), who executed the rebuilding of the dilapidated large hall (Thiru Mandapam in front of the royal palace (Sivapaathasekara Thiru Maalikai) at Sivapaathasekara Mangalam.

Some local history enthusiasts around Kumbakonam and Thanjavur re-opened discussions on this inscription. This Thiru Mandapam was interpreted as to be a Memorial Temple (of Raja Raja Cholan I) and put forward their views and took efforts to trace out the pallippadai of Raja Raja Cholan I.

Both the Shiva Lingam and the inscription lead many people to link and believe the site as the pallippadai of Raja Raja Cholan - I. Pallippadai means a Shiva temple constructed on the cemetery of a king. Pallippadai is the Tamil name for sepulchral shrine. Raising sepulchral shrine on the burial / cremation ground was found common during later Cholas period (10th and 11th century). Inscriptions would point out with details about the construction of sepulchral temples over the remains of kings and princes.

Historian Kudanthai Sethuraman (of Raman & Raman Bus Services) published a paper Aaivukk Katturaikal - vol 2 on this subject during `1980s. In this paper he has reported about his field study and about the inscription and he could not establish any link regarding pallippadai.
According to Dr. Kudavayil Balasubramanian, well known epigraphist and historian from Thanjavur district, the inscription speaks about some structures built in memory of Raja Raja Cholan I. The structure mentioned therein was renovated by Kulothunga Cholan I (1070 - 1120 A.D.). The pallippadai figured on the bed of River Mudikondan (a tributary of Cauvery) could be the part of pallippadai. The historian also related the pallippadai of Panchavan Madevi (one of the wives Raja Raja Cholan I) located at Patteeswaram (nearer to Udayalur). He also strongly believes that there could be a pallippadai of Raja Raja Cholan I located in the nearby area since the emperor spent his last days at the palace in Pazhayarai. 
The state Department of Archaeology (DoA) could not establish any such conclusion since they could not find any reliable evidence to prove it. Some people continued to claim that the Shiva Lingam site on the bed of River Mudikondan, being nearer to the erstwhile Chola capital Pazhayarai, could possibly be the sepulchral shrine since Raja Raja Chola I was buried about 1,000 years ago.  
Dr. R. Kalaikovan (Director of the Dr. M. Rajamanickanar Center for Historical Research), had visited both Paalkulathu Amman Temple and the site at Mudikondan river bed in Udayalur along with his team and conducted the field study and analyzed the inscriptions.
The article, 'Udayaloril Pallippadaya?' was posted in ( - A Monthly Web Magazine dealing with history, culture and heritage of South India.
Web Link:
The conclusion arrived by him indicate that nothing in the inscription could be related to pallippadai.
Udayalur Village (Sri Kangeyapuram) is located 32 Kms towards East from District headquarters Thanjavur & 6 Kms from Kumbakonam. Take Bus No 35 from Kumbakonam to reach this place. Believed Burial place of Raja Raja Chozhan is located near Selli Amman Temple, Udayalur. Nearest Railway Station is located at Kumbakonam & Nearest Airport is located at Trichy.