Ramayanam before Kamban 60 - Dharmapuri Nolamba Ramayanam
  • Dharmapuri. The capital of Satyaputras aptly named as Dharmapuri. Thagadoor in tamil.
    satyaputra @ adiyaman, Avvayar I, - all known to us.
    The vaipputhalam of Thagadur may be Dharmapuri
    temple is a unique one. The Ambal Kamakshi sannidhi is in the center
    and taller with 18 steps, Swami Mallikarjuna is ro her right with a
    shorter vimana, A sidhar lingam to her left with a still shorter vimana.
    There is Durga moorti placed in the Ardha mandapa of Ambal sannidhi.
    ambal has Anguama and Pasam ( noose) in the top hands and lower hands
    have abaya varadha mudras. Like utsava sukravara ambals lookslike this.
    The Ambal in Pancheshti also simillar. some scholars say the moorti is
     vijayanagar period and some as 8th.
    The temple is considered to be of the period of NOLAMBAS. The Durga is confirmed as Nolamba by all.
    temple has 3 Nolamba incriptions of Nolamba Narasimha 2 in the temple
    (890 AD) and  the third is in chennai museum. All talk about donations
    to a jain theerthangara shirine. The other one in the ambal shirine of
    III kulothnga speaks about - how the temple of Rajarajeswara,
    velaleesvara, Chanayirmudayar, Muzhamayiramudayar was in dilaped
    condition and how he brought siva brahmanas, repaired the temple and
    restarted poojas.
    basement is stone and the temple is brickstructure . The base reminds
    me of the lalgudi temple,  Recently they cemented the outside and laid
    granite on the inner wall-as the structure was weak.
    basement of ambal shirine has 18 elephants and the bottom has long
    pannels of Ramayana. Like 3 of pullamangai joined together length wise.
    is so low and the gap between 2 sannidhis are just 2 feet, it was very
    difficult to take pictures. It took 4 hours to clean the accumulated
    dust and digout at some places. i tried my best.

    They have also raised the platform to prevent water logging and now the scluptures are at ground level.

    inner pillars of swami and ambal shirine are clearly hoysala with
    hanging pillars and intricate carvings and stories. I could not take the
    carvings of all the pillars due to want of time.
    The theories floated are
    1. It is a jain temple dedicated to Mallinatha which was converted to Mallikarjuna.
    2. The pattern of a central shirine with two sub on both sides is clearly jain.
    3. If
    it is a jain temple, then Kulothunga would not have mentioned as siva
    temple. hence Siva temple only. there are lot of mention of vishnu
    temple in siva temples.

    4. In jain temple - the woman godess padmavati will be left to the main shirine and not at the center. hence Siva temple only.

    The ambal shirine has oly 2-3 feet base. It was a yagasala. That is why
    Ramayana starts with putrakameshti yaga and ends with Aswamed yaga.
    Then they made it as Ambal shirine.
    6. The Ramayana pannels is the regular ramayana and not the jain ramayana.
    But all agree that the Ramayana pannels are from Nolamba period - 850 -
    and the features of  ramayana images are clearly Nolamba.

    Agreement between scholars on whether it is a siva temple or a
    converted jain temple.. Pulavar Goindan, who researched the Salem
    Dharmapuri area and an authority on these districts strongly feel this
    as a siva temple. He says that the Jain temple mentioned in the inscription is located nearby and only remains could be seen.

    to add to the confusion - i feel that the Durga must be originlly the
    central deity and later moved to the sides like Kanchi.That is why the
    main satvik godess is called kamakshi. I have an image in the pillar to
    support my theory.


    photos of Ambal, durga not allowed. But the santhanakappu poster of
    Durga was shown. - once in a year only devotees are allowed to see the
    godess durga in full form. Durga has a tridet in right top hand, shanka
    in left top hand, the kreedom has a trident, mahishasura is slain and
    the bottom right also has a trident. Since 3 tridents - she is covered
    with dress and people allowed to see her fully on only one day - that
    too under sandal cover.
     Ramayanam pannels are unique.
    1. Kaikeyi taking the boons in a dignified manner. her hair is neatly tied and not in " Thalaiviri Kolam"
    2. Parasurama garva Bangam. Could not take fully. Sita is in the chariot and other get down.
    3. Rama seeing sita for the first time. I took that photo in bits. very narrow path and not properly equiped.
    4. sita kalyanam
    5. sorpanaga instigating Kara dooshana and kara dooshana were thrown out by Rama;s arrows.
    6. soorpanaga complaining to ravana
    7. Ravana discussing with mareech and his pushpaka vimanam is parked next. 
    8. Killing of the deer, lakshmana coming to see rama and both rushig back to the ashram
    9. rama's arrow piercing 7 trees
    10. Slaying of Indrajeet, kumbhakarna and Ravana
    11. Rama pattabhisegam
    12. Uttara Rama charitam
    We need to take the images once again and go fully prepared to stay for 2 days. Could not take the images of
    Rama going to forest and the inncidents in forests.
    Please read the book - on Ramayana pannels
    The author claims the period s Bana but the scholars say that the evidences point to Nolambas.

    The basement was not raised when the above author took photos.

  • oh, really amazing sculptures, though not very skillful carving, might be
    because of the miniature panels.
    one sculpture which I liked most is setubandhan, quite elaborate story telling
    should visit again, let me know when you coming to Bangalore

    so many quotes / references ...

    Valuable informations.

    thank you so much and warm rgds. sps

  • Excellent post Sankar. I unfortunately missed this temple when I visited that area few years back. Looking forward to see the photos
  • Dear Sankar

    Saw the pictures and can understand your energies and efforts. I think you were almost lying on the floor when you took those photos. Multiple thoughts came to my mind.

    - First of all this cannot be 9th century sculptures for sure. Both in terms of execution & themes displayed - it is very late. Other than chola I do not recollect anybody interested in Ramayana in that period. These panels seem to be Hoysala or the rest. I very much hesitate to put this in 9th Century.

    - I have seen some Nolamba sculptures. They are brilliant. These cannot be put in Nolamba context on the basis of Narasimha inscription

    - The one who says this is bana temple has a point. Atleast you see Bana activity in Thondaimandalam before Parantaka annexation - to some extent but Nolambas? I am not sure about the inscription and its origins

    - Your multiple observations about the temple raises further suspicions about the period and execution of the temple.

    - In spite of these shortcomings, The Ramayana panels are well worth a study. You can date this temple purely based on Ramayana alone.
  • the dikpala ceiling looks very fine to me.
  • Dear Gokul

    had a discussion with Pulavar Govindan and another person.

    The III Kulothuumga inscription is above the panels states that the temple was w.o pujas and he restored by sending Siva Brahmanas. - So Before Kulothunga III.

    In the pillar - not only Narasimha but also his Son Ayyappa's inscriptions found,Dharmapuri area hs more Nolamba inscriptions and the said period is defenetly under Nolamba.

    I am not in town and will give you the list of Nolmba kings mentioned in the pillarwho ruled dharmapuri by sunday.

    However - The proof for Panels being Nolamba period - No direct evidence. There supposed to be a simillar panels in adiyaman kottai in 49s- 50s which points to Nolamba. Those scluptures are lost. They refer some Nolamba temples -

    The objective of the series is to clearly date all the evidences and hence will talk to more people involved in this temple research and collect all evidence before freezing them to pre 12th.
  • Dear Sai,
    Aiyappa was born to Shiva and Mohini. Even this story is exlusive to Kerala
    like Muruga to tamils.
    Please check up wather the youth is Prahalad.
  • with Ashtadigbalaga is the signature of Nolambas.IInterestinglyin Dharmapuri both the Siva sshrineand parvati sshrinehas the panel. That is one of the major source to prove them as Nolamba.
    I should have done the research before going. I have not taken the images of the panel and the pillars of both siva and parvati sshrineThe gurukkal requested me to study and prove that - it is the oldest existing devi sshrineof TN. ( though the kanchi kamakshi predates but the structure is new)He aalsorrequestedus to do something to clean the aranyakandam panels which have a few cement coating- fallen while doing the renovation.RegardsSankar
  • But Shastha exists in Tamil Nad too, doesn't He?
  • yes - Appar thevaram clearly mentions him as Siva's son
  • His name is ayappa only

    i will give the list of kings tomarrow
  • Dear Madam,'

    It was 1950-51, when a grand rally was organisedfrom kerala to coimbatre, lead
    by none else than Sir. P.T.Rajan, Mr Rajan was then leader of Justice party, Hr
    was a fighter against Brahmin supremacy in the indian society.Ayyappa had a
    universal ,a breaker of cast division, that appealed to Mr.Rajan. ncidentally he
    was aMeenakshi baktha and s trustee of Meenakshi temple in Madurai

    Since then it caught up in Tamilnadu. Iyyappa puranam is not recognise by
    orthodox hindu fold. no reference is given in Bhagavatha in the Padhmasura
    vatha, where it just stops with the enchantment of Shiva with Mohini.

  • Dear Sankar
    Based on the discussions we are having it seems Dharmapuri needs a much more detailed study. I will try to dig up more information from my end
  • Ayyappan - Dharma Sastha - Ayyanar

    I read the following inscriptions today. It is in my metarnal native place but i came to know only today.

    Villupuram alias Nirupathunga Seyamthangi Chathurvethimangalam alias Jananatha C.V.Mangalam has many suburbs. One is Agaram. This agaram is located about 2 kms away . to ur left on the road to chennai. Villupurama suburb has 2 Abirameswarar - One in Thiruvamathur which we saw earlier. The Agaram one is the second one. ( Simillarly Villupuram has 2 valisvaram - one we saw at Koliyanur and another near the new busstand - Poonthottam. Aditya period - will see later)

    There are 18 epigrphs - ARE 1922 : All gift of land by the sabha of Villupuram which is refered as a. Verpuram, Niru.Sey.C.V.Mangalam and J.N.C.V. Mangalam.

    The gifts are to the God referred as

    1. Kayirur Ayyan
    2. Maha sastha
    3. Maha sastha Kayirrur Ayyanar
    4. Paramaswamigal kayirrur Ayyan

    There is an inscription of the sabha meeting at the temple of Ayyanar.

    So - it is not right to say that Ayyanar/Sastha worship was not accepted by the so called orthadoxy.
  • There is another interesting epigraph at Pulipatti, near Alagarkoil in Madurai district.

    ARE 1911 - No 564 - Topographical list of Epigraphs of TN & Kerala by TV Mahalingam.

    It is on the face of a rock in the Ayyanar temple.

    Maravarman Kulasekaran - RY 38 - AD 1306

    Gift of village ( yes a full village) named Singankulam to Puliyurdiudaya nayanar by .... of Padirikkudi in Tenparappu nadu.

    Here the Ayyanar - Ayyappa refered as the one who has a Tiger Vahanam.

    This further shows, his story of bringing tiger milk for the mother is known in 1306 itself. Puranas call him a Pandya prince.

    A casual reading of epigraphs throw so many interesting facts.

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