Arulmigu Vijayalaya Choleeshwarar Temple,
Main Deity : Shiva.
Temple History : The Vijayalaya Choleeshwaram temple is one of the first mountain cave temples built by the Cholas. This temple was renovated by the Chola king Vijayalaya Chola. Vijayalaya Chola was the ancestor of Sri Raja Raja Chola who vision the grand Chola Empire.Approximately 1300 years ago, [Between 7 AD and 9 AD] the place which was a part of the Pallava kingdom, had been under the direct control of the Thanjavur Mutharaiyar kingdom. [ In the first part of the Ponniyin Selvan tamil novel, the Pazhuvoor fighters who mock Vandhiya Devan’s horse ofbbelong to the same Mutharaiyar lineage. In the 9th century, Narthamalai came under the Chola empire after after Vijayalaya Chola defeated the Mutharaiyars.
It is also believed by some that centuries ago, the Business men / Traders who were also known as ‘Nagaratthaar’ received the temples, ponds [ Kulam ] belonging to the temples, subsidies and aids from the kings and governed them efficiently. Apart from preserving the place, village development schemes and collection of taxes were done by them and thus they secured a very good name. Therefore this place was prosperous and became a wealthy, business trade capital where business flourished. Particularly, a business group called ‘Naanadhesatthu Ainnootruvar’ had been the head office of the Vanigar group. Hence the people called the place as ‘Nagaratthaar Malai’ to honour them. It is also believed that this name evolved as ‘Narthamalai’.
There are more than 80 hills in the surroundings like Melamalai, Kottaimalai, Kadambarmalai, Paraiyarmalai, Uvakkanmalai, Aaluruttimalai, Bommaadimalai, Ponmalai, Manmalai and so on. During the war between Rama and Ravana, Hanuman brought the Sanjeevi Mountain from the North to bring back the soldiers who died in the course of the war to life. As Hanuman was bringing the mountain some fragments fell onto the ground and they are the Narthamalai hills. It is also believed that therefore these Narthamalai hills still have some rare herbs which could cure many uncurable diseases.
The stone inscriptions below the Dwara Balakars tell that Elango Aadhi Araiyan who was the Mutharaiyar head built this temple. There are many paintings and murals in this temple. The temple was later re- built and renovated by the Cholas. The stone walls surrounding the Sannidhis are in a damaged state. The stone inscription on the outer wall of the temple tells that the temple was engineered by Saatthan Boothi , but later it was destroyed due to heavy rain. In the period of Vijayalaya Chola, Mallan Viduman re –constructed it. It is considered by historians that from that period onwards, the temple was called as Vijayalaya Choleeshwaram.
Prominence of the shrine : The Vijayalaya Choleeshwarar temple occupies a high position in the architectural history of Tamil Nadu. This temple was built following the Vesara architecture. The temple situated facing towards the West is a perfect example for the Cholas’ contribution to art and architecture. The round shaped Garbagraha of the temple is yet another thing of marvel. There is a big Shiva lingam in the Garbagraha. In the Artha Mandapam, colourful paintings have been painted with ‘Saandhu’. In the walls of the inner Prakaram, the old paintings are in a damaged state.
It is claimed by some that these paintings belong to the 17th century. This temple is fully made up of stone from the ‘Adhishtaanam’ to the topmost stone. The vimanam above the garbagraha is four storeyed. The first three storeys are square shaped and the last one is in the fom of a circle. On top of it, a sphere shaped peak has atop it the Kalasam. There are many beautiful idols and statues in the Gopuram icluding the dancing lady idol. There is a ‘Moodu Mandapam’ in front of the temple.
There are small shrines [Panjarams] nearby. The pillars in the front Mandapam are in the building style of the Pallavas. There are two Dwara Balakars at the entrance having one leg on the other. This feature is common in the Cholas’ art and architecture style. There are seven small shrines nearby. The height of the Vijayalaya Choleeshwaram temple and and the small shrines around it is nearly two – thirds of the height of the hills nearby.
The large cave nearby called as the ‘first Samanar Kudagu’ or the ‘Padhinen Bhoomi Vinnagaram’ was a Samanar Cave in the 7th century and later it was conerted into a Vishnu temple. In the Artha Mandapam of this temple, there are 12 big Vishnu statues. In the Peedam of the stage in the Mandapam there are a line of Yaali, lion, elephant and other statues. The ‘Pazhiyili Eshwaram’ temple is a small rock – cut Shiva temple in the north.
It was built in the 9th century by the Muttharaiyar chief Saatthan Pazhiyili during the rule of the Pallavas. This Sthalam has the likeness of the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple Vimanam. The Bala Subramaniya temple in Kannoor which was built during the reign of Aadhittha Chola – I and the small and beautiful Nageshwara Temple in Kumbakonam are closely related as they are built in the same Pallava style of architecture.
Nearest Town : Pudukkottai.
Temple Address : Arulmigu Vijayalaya Choleeshwarar Temple,
Narthamalai, Pudukkottai District.
Hotels Near Vijayalaya Choleeshwarar Temple, Narthamalai, Pudukottai :
1.Chidambara Vilas Chettinad, (4.1 km from Temple)
Ramachandrapuram, Kadiapatti | Off Thirumayam Fort,
ph :095855 56431.
2.Saratha Vilas Heritage Home in Chettinad, (13.3 km from Temple)
832 main road, Kothamangalam,
Kariakudi taluk, Tamil Nadu 630105.
3.Chettinadu Narayana Vilas, (9.5 km from Temple)
Near Raja Palace,Raja Front Street,
Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu 630103,
ph no:04565 283 199.
4.Hotel Sathyam, (19 km from Temple)
1 Sathyamoorthy Road,Pudukkottai,
5.Visalam, (9.2 km from Temple)
7/1 - 143, Local Fund Road,LF Road,
Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu 630103
Restaurants Near Vijayalaya Choleeshwarar Temple, Narthamalai, Pudukottai :
1.Appus Curis Family Restaurant, (18.2 km from Temple)
No : 5/p, Poonga Nagar, Rajagopalapuram,
Railway Station Road, Near State Bank Poonga Nagar,
Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu 622003,
ph no:04322 261 541
2.Shri Aiswarya Restaurant, (19.7 km from Temple)
Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu 622001.