Thyagaraja Temple, Thiruvarur – Inscriptions
The temple was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama Dynasty, the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty. An inscription which was dated in the 20th year of the Rajendra I (1012–1044) beginning with the introduction "Tirumanni valara" is found on the north and west walls of the Thyagaraja shrine. There is a list of gifts including a number of the jewels and lamps to the Lord Vidividanka Devar (Thyagarajar). Inscriptions say that the temple was built in stone by the king Anukkiyar Paravai Nangaiyar.
Royal patronage meted out to this shrine is evident from the abundant stone inscriptions that are seen in the temple complex. It is evident that the original shrine of worship, possibly a brick and mortar structure was replaced with a more rugged granite structure and added to, over a period of time. The earliest inscriptions regarding grants to this temple date back to the period of Aditya Chola of the latter half of the 9th century CE and Parantaka Chola I (907-955 CE).
The Achaleswarar shrine in the temple complex was rebuilt of stone during the period of Sembian Mahadevi. Rajaraja Chola I the best known of the Chola monarchs built the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur and endowed it with vast amounts of wealth. It is learned from records that forty four dancers were brought in from Tiruvarur to render their service at the Thanjavur temple. Raja Raja was a great devotee of Nataraja and Vitankar (Dakshinameru Vitankar - an icon representing the Somaskanda manifestation installed in a separate shrine at the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur).
There are inscriptions testifying to his son Rajendra Chola's visit to the Tiruvarur temple, and his donation of a lamp in commemoration of the visit, soon after the conversion of the brick built shrine into a stone structure. Rajendra Chola is also associated with rebuilding the Thyagaraja shrine at Thiruvotriyur in stone. Both Thiruvotriyur and Tiruvarur are closely associated with the life of Sundara Moorthy Nayanar. Images of Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola are housed in the Tiruvarur temple.
Inscriptions from the period of the Chola rulers that succeeded Rajendra Chola are seen in the temple complex. Kulottunga Chola II extended great patronage to the temple and instituted grants for carrying out several festivities in the temple on a regular basis. Also are seen, inscriptions from the Pandya period, the Vijayanagar rulers, the Nayaka period and the Maratha period. The name Thyagaraja became associated with Veedhi Vitankar during the period of Kulottunga Chola II (vide Muchukunda Sahasranamam). Several literary works such as the Tiruvarur Puranam came to be written after the 15th century.
The Maratha ruler Serfoji Maharaja of Thanjavur was devoted to the shrine at Tiruvarur and he performed the renovation and the Kumbabishekam of the shrine in the year 1717. Another Kumbabishekam was performed in the temple in 1986 and the most recent one in March 2001. The unbroken traditions of this temple survived the changes of the kingdoms and absorbed their influences in art, craft, literature, and history. The Thyagarajaswami temple once called Poongkoil has a synonymous association with Thiruvarur today.