A crumbling treasure in Pullalur

It was almost noon and despite my folks showing various signals that it was past their endurance point, I was lost amidst the treasures of kanchi kailasanthar temple, when the jolt of my ( ok loan from Dad) samsung handphone brought me back to my senses.

“Vijay, come over on Kanchipuram Arakkonam route, am waiting near Tirumalpuram railway station. ” It was heritage enthusiast K.S. Shankaranarayanan. We were to go and try and cover the Early Chola temple in Tirumalpuram. Little did i realise what the rest of the day held in store for me. Halfway through, the landscape got the best of my brother’s ford and my folks. Quick decision to send them on their way back to chennai and i shifted to shankar’s vehicle. The next two hours was an amazing experience but that post will follow shortly, as what we witnessed later on during that day, churned our insides out. The image has been haunting me every since, and i sincerely hope and pray that there can be something that we can all collectively do to save this astounding structure from crumbling to dust.

What and where is this structure that i talk of ? Its an area that has surprisingly witnessed two historic battles. ofcourse, the name Pullalur, wouldn’t register as a Panipet would do, however a little flashback – for those who have read Kalki’s Sivagamiyin sabatham – thanks to Pavithra for the online English translation – am sure Sivagami & Gundotharan along with Pullikesi and Narasimha Pallava would come back to refresh our memories.

Sivagamiyin Sabatham – Battle at Pullalur

The site also witnessed an astounding defeat of the British by Tippu and the french in 1780 – read more from Sri Muthiah’s –

The story of Two Obelisks.

Ok, enough of the location, what you are going to see below is possibly a ….

No self publicity here. You will understand the reason for me posing here after a couple of progressive longer shots ! Now, where am ?

Hmm, lets zoom out a bit more.

We were actually returning after visiting the temples in worship in Pullalur, when from inside these bushes Shankar spotted this structure. When we enquired around, the villagers mentioned ” Oh, that’s our tonsured Vimana ( mottai Gopuram)”

It was only when we went nearer, that we could gauge the actual scale of this beauty.

The lower base has been subject to parasitic activity – obviously the bricks have been put to ` better’ uses.

The towering tower really started overpowering us with its imposing presence, like an aged warrior, despite its visible marks of valor, it still held its head high in the skies. We counted six tiers capped by a beautiful shikara ( the top dome is missing now)

There were still a few Sudhai ( lime & mortar) sculptures on the Vimana.


Despite all the destruction around it, centuries of obvious neglect spawning a profusion of vegetation eating into it – the real beauty of this Vimana came to us. What we cannot delivery today, with the best of engineering talent, machines, science, technology, advances in materials – this lonely edifice proclaimed its mastery in silence, with a profound sense of grief and overpowering sadness that enveloped us, touching a raw chord in our hears was its core, which revealed itself to us in a powerful manner as we stepped inside the Vimana.

The engineering skill of the ancients – it was still picture perfect, the sacred geometry of the tiers were still doing their duty. But in that, they seem to place an appeal to us. Duty bound to their task, despite the main deity not being present, they conveyed the essence of the Omnipresent. The Tamil equivalent of the central core of a temple is called the ” karu varai” which essentially means a mother’s womb – such a profound significance for a name and the selfless dedication that is associated with it. Can we do something in return?

28 thoughts on “A crumbling treasure in Pullalur

  1. ‘அந்த தெய்வீக உணர்ச்சியை உனர்த்தும் இந்த கற்களின் பணியை கண்டு கண்கள் கலங்கின.’
    படிக்கும்போதே, கண்கள் கலங்கின. பார்த்தபோது, உங்கள் உணர்வு புரிகிறது.

  2. Hi Vijay, your work is amazing, for 3 years this blog is running successfully and i wish it celebrates 1000th year like tanjore temple. this service cannot be valued with tangible things.

    “let noble thoughts come to us from all sides “

  3. Taken note of this Vijay/ Sankaranarayanan. I will visit and also check if Dr Satyamurthy can accompany and take an online estimation of restoration. Sad 🙁 As Sriram said, reminds Vepathur Perumal temple, which REACH is now working upon!
    I have seen Thirumalpur railway station. where exactly is this place from the railway station?
    Chandra

  4. with birks remo ved from base the temple appears to me as a temple car as u observed it might be a early pallava temple beautifl ithink many temples would have appeared like this before being converted to KATRALI by cholas

  5. chandra, is the pallava period “face” still present in the top leftside of the back wall in the Vepathur temple?

  6. நம் முன்னோர்களின் அறிவு முதிர்ச்சி மற்றும் அறிவியல் தேர்ச்சி கண்முன்னே கண்டதும் ஒரு பெருமிதம் – விமானத்தின் உட்புறம் சென்று மேலே பார்த்தவுடன் ஒரு மெய் சிலிர்ப்பு. அப்படி ஒரு அற்புதம், இத்தனை நூற்றாண்டுகள் ஆகியும், கேட்பாரற்று குப்பையில் கிடந்தாலும், தங்கள் பணியை இன்றும் செவ்வனே செய்து, தாங்கள் காப்பாற்றிய மூலவர் சிலை இல்லை என்றாலும் எங்கும் எதிலும் கலந்திருக்கும் அந்த தெய்வீக உணர்ச்சியை உனர்த்தும் இந்த கற்களின் பணியை கண்டு கண்கள் கலங்கின.//

    கண்கள் கலங்கின, என்றாலும் சந்திராவின் பின்னூட்டம் கொஞ்சம் ஆறுதலை அளிக்கிறது. உங்கள் பணியும், சந்திராவின் பணியும் மேன்மேலும் சிறக்கட்டும். வாழ்த்துகள்.

  7. What a fantastic find! I can literally feel and sense your excitement and extreme passion which is conveyed through your writing. The dilapidated piece of majestic Hindu Art for some reason reminds me of the Angor Wat temples, probably because of all the foliage. Vandalism and nature seems to have consumed most of the temple. Gone are the hands and minds that created this aesthetic piece of art and hope for the sake of future modern engineering can restore the temple to cherish the old. Thank You.

  8. What a fantastic find! I can literally feel and sense your excitement and extreme passion which is conveyed through your writing. The dilapidated piece of majestic Hindu Art for some reason reminds me of the Angor Wat temples, probably because of all the foliage. Vandalism and nature seems to have consumed most of the temple. Gone are the hands and minds that created this aesthetic piece of art and hope for the sake of future modern engineering can restore the temple to cherish the old. Thank You.

  9. Hi Vj,
    This would have been an impressive structure during its time. Not heard of many brick temples of Chola or Pallava period, can you throw some light on other similar structures.
    One typo in article, the Pallava king involved in Pullalur war was Mahendravarman not Narasimhavarman to the best of my knowledge. Is this correct?
    Regards,
    Saurabh

  10. dear Saurabh

    The references abound – the grand old lady Sembian Madevi is said to have converted so many brick temples to stone !!

    Regarding father or son – let me check the right references…But the popular version (maybe influenced by Kalki’s references in his work Sivagamiyin Sabatham) is that it was the Son who beat back the invading army. But will defn check.

    rgds
    vj

  11. Dear Friends all,
    I am feels shame of all about your comments
    what your all taking is about my own village PULLALUR because our village people do not have any idea what your all think about. I also try to find secrete and their history of my village temples since from chilled wood. I will help as much as possible.
    B.PHIRABU

    • dear Phirabu

      Thanks for writing in. The first and foremost is to ensure that the temple premises are kept clean- the Sivan temple Vimana has vegetation growing on it, which will eventually destroy it. In the Vishnu temple ( the one under worship – which is in better shape) – most of the inscriptions have been painted over ( dark green color) – please do not allow inscriptions to be touched – they are the record of the authenticity of the age of the temple. Lastly, regarding the structure about which i have written about – we are taking steps to see how it can restored. Please stay in touch with Mr Chandra of REACH foundation ([email protected] )

      anbudan
      vj

  12. Dear Vijay,
    Hi, great job. I discovered that my great grand parents are from Pullalur. Would like to know more about Pullalur & its temples. Willing to restore the village with its original glory.

  13. The people nearby this village was saying that there is pudhayal in this motta kopuram and also a sub way that is secrete path which was connecting to famous temple in kanchipuram whether it is true? Govt wont take actions to bring this secrete out

  14. Janardhanan

    Please tell your grant parents or family people still in the village. To every body please there is any foundation to save the location I will help with father he is old president of this village to make fence put board near to that.
    B.PHIRABU

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