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62. Kadambur


Location: Kadambur near Mannargudi .
(Chola Naadu-North of Kaveri)
Shiva: Amritaghateswarar
Ambal: Jyotiminnammai
Patikam : Sambandar,Appar
Travel Base: Chidambaram
Description: This Shivastalam - a 'veritable art gallery of  12th century art and a unique graceful monument of Dravidian art'  is at a distance of  about 32  km from Chidambaram and at 4km from Kattumannargudi, and 6.5 km north west of Omampulaiyur. About 1.5km east of this temple is Kadambur Ilamkoyil, a Tevara Vaippustalam.  It is also known as Melaikkadambur. Kattumannargudi was a city founded by Parantaka Cholan I (1075-1120) and named Veeranarayanapuram after him. Kadambur  considered to be the 34th in the series of the Tevara Stalams located in Chola Nadu north of the river Kaveri.

Legends: Indra is said to have worshipped Shiva here, to obtain the celestial nectar Amritam and the temple is also known as Karakkovil.

The Temple: This is a temple covering an area of about 3.4 acres; the main temple is chariot shaped with wheels and horses. The vimanam is known as Indra Vimanam. Entering through the main gateway, one finds the porch and a mandapam containing a number of fine bronze images.

It is upon reaching the Southern Prakaram, that the main temple comes in view. It is a graceful temple in its original form covered with sculptures from almost the top to the bottom. S. R. Balasubrahmanyam, calls it a unique monument of Dravidian art, and a veritable art gallery of the early 12th century. 

This temple is built in the shape of a chariot on wheels, two on each side, drawn by caprisoned horses in a prancing posture, depicting a heavenly chariot having come down to the hearth, with Shiva as its occupant. The walls of the sanctum and the ardhamandapam are covered with sculptures in bas relief. The sanctum contains niche images of Dakshinamurthy,  Vishnu and Bhrama, while the ardhamandapam has those of Ardhanareeswarar (south) and Alinganamurthy (north). Vinayakar and Agastyar are found on either side of Ardhanareeswarar.

There are also series of sculptures of the rishis and the gods who are believed to have worshipped Shiva here, during the various aeons. Interestingly, there are labels in 12th century Tamil and in the Grantha characters giving the names of each of these figures. Scenes from the lives of the Nayanmars are also depicted in bas relief here.

The bronze images housed in this temple are of great value. The Nataraja image, depicting Shiva dancing on Nandi, is possibly one brought back by Rajendra Chola I, from the Gangetic Plains, and presented to this temple located close to Gangai Konda Cholapuram.

This temple is considered to be one of the finest of the existing temples of the age of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120), and is very well preserved. Art historian S. R. Balasubrahmanyam asserts that this temple set the pace for the ratha (chariot) vimana temples in India, as a distant discendant of Kulottunga I on the female line, and a famous Eastern Ganga ruler Narasimha, built the Sun Temple at Konark in the form of a chariot in the 13th century.

Festivals: Three worship services are offered here each day.  Tirunavukkarasar's well known lines 'En kadan Pani Seidu Kidappade' are associated with Kadambur.

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