Shiva Krupa

Temples of India signify the very root of Hinduism and its culture. To be worth of the trust reposed by our ancestors, it becomes our primary responsibility to sustain our heritage for generations to come.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kaamarasavalli- Neglected Beauty in Stone

Temples were the nerve centres of Indian Culture. Raja Raja Chola's Tanjore inscriptions illustrate how the kings involved in protecting the tradition.They donated lands and ornaments to keep the temples self sufficient.The temples even came to the rescue of physically challenged persons and offered them jobs.The philanthropists believed that no one would dare enough to cheat the temples for their own interests.As centuries rolled by, the cheaters grabbed the lands and the temples were left to the mercy of philanthropists for maintenance and renovation of the shrines.Numerous temples in villages face this fate all over Tamilnadu.Since many people migrate to Urban areas and never return to their native places,the situation in the villages is grim.Although a section of the public is involved in cleaning the temple premises, it is negligible when we look at the number of temples that face ruin.One such temple is at Kamarasavalli,a remote place in Ariyalur district of Tamilnadu.

Kamarasavalli can be accessed by road if we take Ariyalur-Thanjavur road via Thirumaanur. From Thirumanur,one has to pass through Elakurichi ,Periamarai and Mathur to reach Kamarasavalli. The distance from Thirumaanur could be around 19 Km.Buses are plying in this route but are not frequent.Town bus connects this place directly from Thiruvaiyaru but twice in a day.It was known as Chathurvedhi Mangalam during Chola period.A huge lake called Sukkiran Eri is on the back side of the Shiva temple.

The temple belongs to the Early Chola a brick structure during 871-907 A.D. The presiding deity was known by different names in different times. He was called as Thirunallur Mahadeva in 10th century and Karkotakeswara /Soundareswara later. His consort,Balambika's shrine,facing South, dates back to 14th century.The main entrance is without a Gopuram over it.The next entrance has a Gopuram made of brick. Weeds are seen throughout the tall structure. Cracks are seen on the supporting granite wall that holds the Gopuram.Collapsed Mandapams are seen on both sides of the Gopuram. A Nandi Mandapam,renovated recently faces the Gopuram/Main shrine.

When Manmatha shot arrows on Shiva, the Lord burnt him into ashes and Rathi,the wife of Manmatha(Kaama) begged pardon and prayed to Shiva for giving life to the departed soul of her husband.The Lord blessed her and said that her husband would be visible only to her and that would take place when Shiva married Parvathi.Rathi was asked to have a dip in Ganga at Kashi and come back.Rathi pleaded that the distance was too much for her and requested the Lord to suggest an alternative. Lord Shiva said that the river Coleroon that flowed nearby is equal to Ganga and she could go for it.Rathi had a dip in the river and the place was called Nadhiyaavur after that.The Lord appeared in front of her as Kasi Viswanatha.The nearby places Mathur where there is a shine for Kailasa Vinayaka and Peria Marai where there is a temple for Vedapureeswara are connected with the legend of Kamarasavalli.Rathi also had a dip in the tank,Sundara Theertham,in front of the temple and got back her husband.About 3.5 feet high statue of Rathi,seated on a peacock is kept at a corner as it is slightly damaged.People say that the original name of this place was Kaama Rathi Valli which got transformed into Kamarasavalli later. Kama Dhahana Utsavam was conducted in the month of Maasi long time ago.

The legend also says that King Parikshit cursed the Great Serpant,Karkodaka ,suffering from serious illness worshipped the Lord here.His skin disease got cured and he gave an assurance that all illeffects in the horoscopes of persons who visit this place would be removed instantly and nobody would die of snake bite in this village. Hence the Lord was known as Karkotakeswara.An idol of Karkodaka is seen near the entrance of the sanctum.

The condition of the temple is so pathetic. It will bring tears when we look at the ruins caused by vandalism. The compound wall has collapsed at many places and it is open to antisocial elements.Any further delay in protecting the monument would accelerate the ruins.The locals say that the ruins are there for centuries. During his visit to Ganapathy agraharam some sixty years back ,Kanchi Kamakoti Peetathipathi Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya swamigal enquired about a destroyed temple and finally reached here.

Beheaded structures and destroyed pillars, a lonely Shiva Bhanam in horizontal position are seen in the prakaram which is full of bushes.The basement of the sanctum is of granite stone but the superstructure is constructed of brick and mortar.

On the external walls of the garbha graha, panels of fine workmanship that include Ganapathi,Subramanya, Nataraja,Agasthiya,Kalasamhara ,Lingothbava and Brahma are seen. As the idol of Durga is defaced,another idol of recent origin has been installed.

It is admirable to see the anger created by the sculptor in the face of Kalasamhara murthi. Unfortunately this marvellous sculpture has fallen into the hands of vandals.

At the west facing sannadhi near Nataraja Sabhai, a Bhairava murthi (without jwalakesa and dog) and smiling Balasubramanya are feast to the eyes.

It is said that there are as many as 40 inscriptions on the walls of the temple that belong to a span of 600 years. Raja Raja I mentions agift of 16 kalanju of Gold ,the interest on which would be given to those who recited Talavakaara Sama Veda on the day of Ardhra in Marghazhi(December).. On the northern wall of the central shrine there is an inscription of Rajendra Chola dated Rishabha Maasa(Vaikasi)Wednesday,Ardhra Nakshatra,the corresponding date being May 6th, 1041 for performing Sakkai Koothu in the temple hall.

Nanu Iyer,one of the disciples of Saint Thyagaraja,the Karnatic Music composer, belonged to Kamarasavalli.

The renovation is on and shrines of Ganapathy and Subramanya on the prakara have been taken up. The major challenge lies with the places where the trees are deep rooted inside the walls of the mandapams.The executive officer of the temple was not available at the time of our visit and his office was contacted over phone to send details of the project so that we can also join hands in rebuilding this wonderful monument.


  1. Very sad.i dont know why we are very careless?!!

  2. Thanks for your initiation.According to Sri.Jothimalai Swamigal, the rathi is sitting on ANNAM[annapatchi]! not peacock,

  3. Rathi is normally depicted as sitting on Anna pakshi.Strangely this sculpture resembles more of a peacock than an annapakshi.Probably Rathi wanted to fly to varanasi as directed by the Lord and come back quickly.A good imagination by the sculptor???
    - Sivapathasekaran.

  4. It is very sad. The murthis are gorgeous, esp. the Lingodbhava.
    You've shown me so many temples in this condition.