This ancient Chola age temple is located 18 km from Villupuram (22 km from Pondicherry) on the Villupuram - Pondicherry stretch of NH 45 A. The temple proper is about 100 metres north of the highway but easily visible from the highway. The temple is now known as Panchanadiswarar Temple.
Tirujnana Sambandhar (7th Century A.D.) has sung a decad of hymns on this deity whom he calls Vadugur Adigal after the ancient place name. As such an antiquity of 1300 years can be ascirbed to the temple which is now a protected monument.
Though the temple has gone through some renovation work in later periods, the alterations are far from bizarre and the temple retains much of its older look. The garbha griha (sanctum) and the ardhamandapa are the oldest parts of the temple. The big mandapa in front is a later addition.
The main shrine stands on a basement 1.5 m high. It has plain mouldings. Below the pilasters, there are panels of miniature sculptures. The garbha griha is a square of 6 m side, with three central projections containing the niches of the devakoshtas.
There are six devakoshtas (niches for divine sculptures), three on each side in the outer walls of the ardhamandapa. Bhikshatanar and Durga seem to belong to the original temple as well as Ganesha and Ardhanariswara.
There are bhutagana friezes below the cornice and a yali frieze above it. The ardhamandapa extends froward by 2.5 meteres and stands on four pillars having 16 facets and cushion capitals. There are two dvarapalas guarding the entrance to the mandapa (one old discarded dvarapala can be seen in the front yard of the temple). The sikhara is circular and is a later structure made of stucco.
The original figures of the devakoshtas seem to be Bhikshatanar and Dakshinamurti in the south, Lingodbhavar in the west (rear) and Brahma and Durga in the north. Ganesha, next to Brahma, and Rishabha Rudrar next to Durga are the other devkoshta images which probably belong to the 10th century A.D., in the days of Uttama Chola.
There are umpteen Chola inscriptions on the walls right from the days of Aditya I and Parantaka I, and Krishna IV (Rashtrakuta - Kannara Deva).
The sub-shrines include those of the Nalvar (Tirujnanasambandhar, Thirunavukarasar (Appar), Sundarar, and Manikkavasagar), Ganesha and Subrahmonia. There is also a neatly executed panel of Sapta matrikas (Brahmi, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Vaarahi, Indrani and Chamunda) on a miniature scale. A few old idols of sapta matrikas (larger in size) are lying behind the Subrahmonia temple. Ruins of an exterior mantapa can also be seen in the exterior yard.
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Last Revised (contents): 2 october, 2005
Last Revised (design) : 3 october, 2004