Saturday, April 28, 2018

Agastheeshwarar Temple, Kolapakkam – History

Agastheeshwarar Temple, Kolapakkam – History

Like most of the temple around Porur locality of Chennai, this temple was also built by the Cholas. Aditya Chola I of 9th century CE had renovated the temple. There were contributions by various kings such as Rajaraja Chola I, Rajaraja Chola II, Kulothunga Chola III, Sundara Pandya, Vijayaganda Gopala (Telugu Chola) and a King of Sri Vijaya of Sumatra Islands, as per the inscriptions found in this temple. The temple was in ruins till 1998 after it is renovated in the following years. The ASI had found inscriptions in Tamil on five loose stones in the Temple. Two of these were issued by Rajaraja Chola (A.D. 985-1014).
An inscription found in the temple stated that, A king by name Sri Vijaya Maharaja of Sumatra Island (Indonesia) has gifted 250 Kuzhi (Thamizh is a unit to measure lands) of lands to Agastheeshwarar at Kolapakkam, during the 8th year of his reign. Sri Vijaya Maharaja was contemporary to Raja Raja Chozha and had very cordial relationship with the then Chozha kingdom. The inscription revealed details of Buddhist activities nearby the temple and Sri Vijaya Maharaja was a Buddhist.
The deciphering of the above inscription led to the unearthing of the artefacts of two beautiful Buddha statues and ornamental pillars. The Buddhas are in dhyana (meditation) pose. The Buddha sculptures are three feet tall. One sculpture has a dharma chakra on either side of the Buddha. The other sculpture has a three-tiered umbrella above the Buddha's head and women bearing fly-whisks. The face of this Buddha has Mongoloid features and this sculpture shows South-East Asian influence. One of the ornamental pillars unearthed has a bas-relief of a human face, with a head-gear that shows South-East Asian influence.
An image of Ganesa is carved on this pillar. Kolapakkam perhaps was a centre of Buddhist activity. This area coming under Thondaimandalam was noted for Buddhist activity about 1,000 years ago, prior to the Chola period. Buddha statues have been discovered at Mangadu, Irandaamkattai, Kunrathur and Pattu villages, within a few kilometers of Kolapakkam, on the outskirts of Chennai. It is believed that Sri Vijaya Maharaja could have visited the Buddhist shrine and visited Agastheeshwarar temple and donated the lands.

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