A temple marking the emergence of the Cholas in neglect

People have to struggle to reach the shrine at Thirupurambiyam near Kumbakonam

Amid paddy fields and on an elevated area covered with impenetrable vegetation in Thirupurambiyam village, near Kumbakonam, stands a pallipadai temple where Prithivipati I, the king of the Ganga Dynasty, was buried.

Though the war at Thirupurambiyam in 879 CE proved a turning point in the history of the Tamil land, as it led to the emergence of the Cholas, the pallipadai temple — a monument where kings are buried — is in a derelict state.

There is no approach road and anyone interested in visiting the temple, surrounded by hero stones, have to wade through paddy fields, muddy brooks and groves. The temple was without a roof till a year ago and is now covered with a tin sheet.

“I visited the temple when I was a student of Annamalai University. Ganga king Prithivipati is believed to be buried there. Even today people who are interested in Chola history regularly visit Thirupurambiyam and the pallipadai temple,” said Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu, an avid reader of history.

Thirupurambiyam is one of the abodes of Lord Siva, and the deity here is known as Sathchinatheswarar. Saivaite saint Thirugnanasambandar had sung in praise of the deity.

History buffs regularly visit the village but struggle to reach the pallipadi temple as there is no proper road. Local people said the government’s efforts to secure a path failed as owners of the land were not coming forward to share a portion for the purpose. The monsoon and copious rain contributed to the growth of vegetation and thorny bushes. The temple is now known as Bhagavathi Ayyanar temple.

According to historian T.V. Sathasiva Pandarathar, the elevated area is known as Uthirapatti, where there is a temple with the hero stone of Prithivipati I, who was killed in the war.

“In Thirupurambiyam, there is also a pallipadai temple called Katchiandavar temple and a place (paranthalai) where the war took place,” said Pandarathar, a native of Thirupurambiyam.

Another historian Rajamanickanar also attested to the significance of the pallipadai temple in Thirupurambiyam in the memory of Prithivipati “who ensured victory for the Pallavas through his valor”.

The war at Thirupurambiyam heralded the emergence of Cholas as an imperial power since the Pallavas were not able to utilise the victory to retain their supremacy after the defeat of the Pandiyas.

First imperial line

Historian K.A. Nilakanta Sastri had described Vijayalaya, the father of Aditya I “the first of the imperial line of Cholas” and called “the Thirupurambiyar war as a turning point in the history of South India”.

“Among the allies of the Pallavas were, besides the Ganga feudatory, the Chola ruler Aditya I, who though must have taken a subordinate place in the battle of Sri Purambiyam, very soon discovered his advantage and commanded the strength to pursue it,” according to Sastri, the author of the book Cholas. As per the Thiruvalangadu plates, Aditya I, subsequently overthrew the Pallava king Aparajita and deprived him of his territory.

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