Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Kasi Viswanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Visalakshi|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Cholapuram||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (15 km)||Mayiladuthurai (30 km)|
|Ariyalur (47 km)||Tiruvarur (48 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Just south of the Kollidam river, tucked away in a corner between Kumbakonam and Tiruppanandal, is this completely dilapidated temple that would have been gorgeous at one time. The state highway from Kumbakonam to Tiruppanandal splits the town of Cholapuram into two. This temple is located north of the highway.
In the absence of any information (read below to understand why), we could not ascertain the history of this temple, and whether there was any sthala puranam associated with it.
The temple as it stands today has a single main shrine – the garbhagriham, which has a Lingam inside. As we face the garbhagriham, to our right is a shrine for Amman which is lacks walls or a ceiling, where only the peetham and what appear to be Amman’s feet. Other than these, there are no shrines. Several vigrahams are strewn around, but in some sort of order. For instance, before the garbhagriham is a beautiful looking Vinayakar. On the sides are two ganas who appear to be blowing on their conches. There are other vigrahams, and stones, lying about. Chandikeswarar is placed inside what would have been the mukha mandapam.
On the front face (nasi) of the vimanam over the garbhagriham, is a bas-relief of Murugan on Airavatam, Indra’s elephant, which is spectacular! This indicates a time period when Murugan was associated with Airavatam, which was Indra’s gift to Murugan for marrying Deivanai (Devasena). This kind of depiction of Murugan is referred to as Gajavahana or Gajarooda, and the elephant is also named Pinimukha. Such a depiction of Murugan generally indicates that the temple is extremely ancient. Murugan is depicted here with the Vajrayudham and a rooster in his rear hands. The front right hand is in abhaya hastam, and the left is on the elephant’s head.
Another factor that attests to the age of this temple is the absence of any deities in the koshtams. Instead, deities are sculpted in the nasis on the vimanam. Similar to Murugan on the east, there is a bas-relief on the west, which appears to be Siva as Sukhasana murti with the axe and deer in His hands.
The temple also has several inscriptions on the adishtanam (base) part of the garbhagriham walls.
One can step inside the garbhagriham and view the vimanam from the inside. This is something we rarely get to see, but this design of a layered tower that tapers at the top, is consistently used across virtually all temples.
The exterior walls of the garbhagriham have beautiful architecture in the form of kumbhams, panjarams, etc, and are compliant in every way with the typical Chola temple design. In addition, there are several bas-relief images on these walls, including of ganas, a king, yali, what appears to be a sage, and various other figurines.
There is no prakaram to speak of – it is fully covered in undergrowth, as is obvious from the pictures. This also means snakes abound in the area, and these enter the garbhagriham as well. One of the pictures in the gallery is of a snake’s skin hanging from one of the rafters in the garbhagriham.
The locals who live near the temple showed us around the place. We were told that the lands nearby have been usurped by unscrupulous elements, and even the lands owned by the temple have been sold off in collusion with the authorities. They also informed us that while various people were ready to sponsor the rebuilding and renovation efforts, the government department has not given their approval for several years now.
We request readers who can help in any way, to assist with the rebuilding and renovation of this temple. You may also contact the number given below.
Other Information for your visit
There are 3 important temples in Cholapuram, all excellent temples to visit:
Bhairaveswarar, Cholapuram, Thanjavur
Kailasanathar, Cholapuram, Thanjavur (yet to be published)
Kasi Viswanathar, Cholapuram, Thanjavur
M Kannan: 9840083553