Thirukkārīśvara temple at Kalavai
Dr. R. Nagaswamy
Dr. R. Nagaswamy
The village Kalavai has been in existence from 7th cent is seen from a Śiva linga with sixteen facets on its cylindrical part, a feature found mostly in Pallava temples in Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. It is now found inside the enclosure. Also found is a small Ganēśa in stone of the same age in the same temple. A third relic of the Pallava age is that of an exquisite Durgā image in stone assignable to late 8th cent. An aesthetically beautiful sculpture , well proportioned and pleasing in line, volume and posture, this sculpture has unfortunately suffered damage probably due to falling stones or debris. Its head is broken and the hands damaged. Inspite of the mutilated condition this is a remarkable sculpture of the age. These relics suggest that this temple dedicated to Śiva and built of bricks existed from Pallava times 8th cent.
In the later half of 10th and beginning of the eleventh century the Chola Emperor, Rājarāja I, the Great who built the Big temple at Tanjore, under took a detailed survey of all lands under his rule and assumed the title “the Chola who surveyed the World” (Ulakalanta chola). Scholars say that this was the earliest systematic revenue survey ever undertaken in India. As a result Rājarāja renamed the regions after his titles and the Tondai mandalam region was renamed Jayamkonda chola mandalam. (Jayamkonda chola was one his titles). He was associated with the village Kalavai where a new colony of Brahmins was established under his title Ulakalanda chola Caturvēdi mangalam. Kalavai now assumed an alternative name as Kalavai alias Ulakalanda chola Caturvēdimagalam and the Siva temple brought under its administrative control.
Rājarāja’s contact with this village is attested by more than one record. A canal in this village was called Rājarājan vāykkāl; a path away in the village was called Arulmozi dēvan vadi; the standard grain measure was named Ulakalanta cholan marakkāl: a scribe who inscribed a record later bore the title Ulakalanta chola ācāryan. It is not unlikely the present modest stone temple of Śiva was rebuilt during Rājarāja’s time replacing the old brick temple. Unfortunately the original sculptures in the niches of this stone temple have disappeared and late 19th cent (or even early 20th cent) small sculptures have been placed.
Almost 50 years later, a transaction is recorded on the base of this temple dated in the reign of Adhirājēndra Chola, grandson Rājēndra I. The record is dated in his 3rd year that is 1070. The village Assembly of the new colony named Kalavai alias Ulakalanta chola caturvēdi mangalam sold a parcel of land measuring 1932 kulis, for fifteen kalanju of gold, that included all taxes payable to the king. The village assembly agreed to pay the taxes themselves.
In the reign of Kulōttunga I, the successor of Adhirājēndra some transactions relating to the temple took place. The inscription relating to the same is left incomplete and the nature of the transaction is not known. However towards the close of his reign Kulōttunga seems to have constituted a new colony of Vedic Brahmins naming it Rāja-nārāyana-Caturvēdi-mangalam after his title Rājanārāyana. This new colony also situated in Kalavai, eclipsed the earlier Rājarāja’s foundation for the later is no more noticed in any record.
In the twelfth century there are two records of Vikrama chola, the son and successor of Kulōttunga I. The first one dated 1122, mentions Kalavai alias Rājanārāyana Caturvēdi-mangalam, and the name of the god Thiruk-kārīsvaram-udaiyār. One Ariyan dēvan purchased 500 kulis of land and endowed it to the temple for daily food offerings during the midnight worship. The offering consisted of four nāli (measure) of cooked rice and two nalis of two cooked vegetables. This record refers to Arumoli-dēva-vāykkāl. In addition, the donor gifted two cows for curd and ghee offerings during the same worship and some gold for burning perpetual lamps It is seen that at the beginning of the 12th cent the Siva-brahmanas of the temple belonged to Kauśika, Gautama, and Bhārgava gotras The record was engraved by Ulakalanda-chola-ācāryan