May 21, 2018

Gangai Konda Choleeswara of Kanchipuram - Koozhampandal

If you are residing in Chennai or Kanchipuram, you need not travel for about 300 kms to visit Gangai Konda Cholapuram. There is another Gangai Konda Cholapuram very near to your city. Koozhampandal (often written as Kulambandal) is a village located at a distance of just 30 kms from Kanchipuram and about 95 kms from Chennai. The ancient Shiva temple of the village is called as Gangai Konda Choleeswara temple. It also belongs to the period of Rajendra Chola I (r. 1014 - 1044 CE).

This village called Koozhampandal has few other remnants of ancient temples/sculptures. But, the notable one is this Shiva temple. The temple is called as Choleeswara or Jagannatheswara. The temple was built by Isana Shiva Pandit, the Raja Guru of Rajendra Chola I. As per the inscriptions, the temple was called as "Gangai Konda Cholapuram" as well as "Vikrama Cholapuram". The deity was referred as "Gangai Konda Choleswara" or "Iswaramudaiya Mahadevar".

The inscriptions dated 12th year and 22nd year of the reign of Rajendra Chola I, 33rd year of Rajadiraja Chola I and later period Vijayanagara are found in the temple. It can be assumed that the temple was probably built sometime around the 12th year of reign of Rajendra Chola I (1025-1026 CE).

The temple faces the east direction. It is fully a stone temple. It has sanctum, ardha mandap and mukha mandap. The sanctum enshrines Shiv Linga. The entrance of the shrine is on the side at the south direction. In the Mukha Mandap, there is a separate shrine for the Goddess, which is a later addition.

The vimana has three tiers (talas). Each tala has many small niches and miniature sculptures. The sikhara is decorated with a mahapadma on top. The circular greeva has four niche icons such as Dakshinamurti, Sukasana and Brahma. The third tala has karna kutas in the corner and each surrounded by pair of Nandis. The second tala too has karna kutas. The icons of Ashtha Dik Palas, but not in the correct order or direction, are also found on the vimana.

The three sides of the exterior walls have totally eleven Koshtams. The adhistana has kumudam and padmam mouldings with the yazhi frieze on the top. In addition, so many miniature sculptures are also found here.

The south wall has Ganapati, Bhikshatana, Dakshinamurti and Harihara as the Koshta images. The west wall has Vishnu, Lingodbhava and Harihara. The north wall has Subramanya, Brahma, an empty niche and Durga.

The entrance faces the south direction and not the east direction. There are Dwarapalas found at the entrance.

Nandi is found facing towards the sanctum. The 16 pillared mandap is located behind Nandi. Only the pillars are remaining and the mandap has no roof.

Few excavated sculptures such as Durga and others are kept in the prakara.

Happy travelling.

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