Deccan Herald, Monday, April 19, 2004


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BANGALORE - BACK AND FORTH

A Chola temple in Domlur!

The Chokkanathaswamy temple is the oldest in the City and the inscriptions on the temple suggest it belongs to the Chola period.



Tucked in a bylane, not very far from the main Domlur Road is a quaint west-facing 10th century Chola temple, called the Chokkanathaswamy temple which is the oldest in the City. The temple stands on a high base and probably was in the centre of the locality and once a prominent structure.

The illustrious kings of the Pallava, Chola, Hoysala, Vijayanagar dynasties who were great devotees not only encouraged scholars, but built several temples in South India.

The pilasters in the sanctum sanctorum and the Navaranga walls and the name Chokka Perumal, suggests that the temple is of Chola origin, though there are no such records. The whole of the Chola belongings of Bangalore were in the Illaipakka Nadu (present day Yelahanka) of Rajendra Solavala Nadu (Gangaikondachola). Domlur itself is referred to as Tombalur and as Desimanikkapattanam in the inscriptions.

The Epigraphia Carnatica -Vol 9 of Bangalore district mentions six inscriptions. The Tamil inscriptions of Chakravarthi Posalaviraramanatha Deva are addressed to the authorities of all temples in his kingdom. One epigraphy says that all kinds of taxes, tributes and tolls of Sondekoppa village have been granted by Devaraya II of Vijayanagar to the temple. The wet and dry lands in Tombalur together with wells, trees, houses are granted to God Sokkapperumal.

On the door frame dated about 1270 AD, it is written in Tamil that one Alagiyar donated the two door posts. Another Tamil inscription says, one Talaikkattu (maybe a general) and his wife donated as tax-free the temple property, for the God Tripurantaka Perumal, as also the dry and wet lands in the village of Jalapalli, the tank at Vinnamangalam and other lands below the big tank of Tombalur. The charge of the temple was given to Talai Sankurappachariyan.

Another inscription speaks of Poysala vira Ramananda who donated 10 pens for the temple from the Tommalur revenue account in 1290AD. From the inscriptions in Kannada, on the stonewall skirting the door entrance, as also an inscription on the right which has the seal of a cow and its calf.

Renovation of this monument has been extensively done, as the original structures are only the sanctum sanctorum, and two ardhamantapas in front of it. One of this has an underground cell that is fully covered. This was earlier meant to store valuables. All that remains is a pointer that is slightly longer than its counterpart, on the inner side of the arch jutting downwards.

The images of Vishnu or Sokka Perumal, his consorts Sri and Bhu in the garbhagriha, are carved from the saligrama stone from Gantikinadi (Nepal), the only place where the sacred stone is found. It was found that one of his consorts Bhudevi had a small chip off her nose. To correct this, the entire figure was scraped and the same was done to the other consort Sridevi too.

The renowned Parthasarathy Battachari, father of Sri Kannan of Kodandarama swamy temple at Hiremagalur, who performs rituals in Kannada consecrated the temple 20 years ago. The abhisheka is performed to the main deity only on Saturdays.

The Vijayanagar style Navaranga pillars and the front mantapa are later additions. The sculpture on the navaranga pillars depict the kolata scene, duelling, fight of Vali and Sugreeva and a lion figure at the base. An interesting feature is the presence of eight pranic points discovered by a retired chief executive engineer 10 years ago.

The Chola temple was renovated 20 years back and the whitewashing was sand blasted thereby restoring its antiquity. On the outside, at the right corner to the front is a Ganesha shrine, which is a modem one. A portion of the premises is let out for commercial establishments, as a self-sustaining measure.

The Cholas are credited for bringing Vaishnavism to Karnataka in the late 10th century and early 11th century. It was the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhan who brought it to the heartland of Gangavadi around 1116. As in other Vaishnava centres in the Chokkanatha temple also, in the Dhanur masa Tiruppavai are sung throughout the month.

Just a furlong further down is an Anjaneya temple and it is said that if a line is to be drawn the head of his deity is positioned beneath the feet of Chokkanathaswamy. Though the oldest among the three old temples in Bangalore, the other two - Gavi Gangadhareswara and Ulsoor Someswara are more well known.

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