are several temples in the vicinity of Pazhayaarai - Patteeswaram,
Mutham. The Vadatali temple houses Dharmapureeswarar & Vimalanayaki,
while Pazhayarai houses the grand Somanathar temple now in ruins.
Vadatali is also known as Vallalaar Kovil. Patteeswaram is considered to
be the 24th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom
located south of the river Kaveri.
The Temple: This is a
Maadakkoyil built at an elevation by Ko Chenkann Cholan. Inscriptions and ancient
structures abound in its vicinity. Pazhaiyarai was once a capital of the
Pallavas and then one of the ancient capitals of the Cholas. Even after setting up a
capital at Thanjavur, the Royal Cholas continued to live here. It is believed that Raja
Raja Chola I was raised here. It went into oblivion during the early Chola period, but
came back into prominence in the later Chola period (12th, 13th centuries), when the area
between the Kaveri and the Tirumalairajan channel became the cradle of Tamil culture,
temple building activity and literature. Very closeby are the temples of Darasuram,
Tribhuvanam, Sattimuttam, Patteeswaram and Kumbhakonam.
This town is surrounded by lush green fields and by the Mudikondan and Arisilaaru
rivers. The entire area abounds in archeological remains of ancient buildings. The
Keezhttali and Metrali are the other Shiva temples in Pazhayaarai.
Legend has it that Chandra worshipped at Pazhayarai. Sundarar has sung
praises of the Metrali temple.
Sculptural value: There are several carvings of great beauty in this
temple (now in a poor state), dating back to the period of the later Cholas. Mention must
be made of those depicting fights between a lion and a warrior, the slaying of
Hiranyakasipu, and the lifting of the Kailasa Parvatam by Ravanan.
The Somanathar temple resembles the Vikrama Choleeswaram temple at Tirukkachi, the
Airavateswarar temple at Darasuram, and Tribhuvaneswaram at Tribhuvanam. It is dated as a
monument initiated by Vikrama Cholan and completed by Rajaraja II (1130 - 1160. Its outer
wall has the remains of a 7 tiered gopuram along the likes of those at Chidambaram and
Tiruvarur. The gopura vasal, in two tiers, resembles that at Tiruvarur. The dance panels
depicting the Bharatanatya Karanas, on the wall faces of the entrance, bear the same
architectural and iconic features as are noticed at Chidambaram, Darasuram and
Its inner prakaram encloses an area of about 50000 sq ft, and it has a
tiruchutrumaaligai. Interestingly, Ardhanareeswarar occupies the rear niche of the
sanctum, as opposed to Lingodbhavar. The ratha (chariot) mandapam in front of the
Somanathar temple is chariot shaped and the life like images of horses and elephants
pulling these are of great beauty.The vast Somanathar temple is thus a veritable art
gallery with several interesting features added over a period of time.
Templenet acknowledges Mr. C. Vedanarayanan for his contribution of the image of the
Pazhaiyaarai temple tower above.