Tuesday Jun 25, 2024

Melpadi Somnatheshwarar Temple, Vellore

Address

Melpadi Somnatheshwarar Temple, Katpadi, Melpadi, Vellore- 632520

Diety

Somnatheshwarar Amman: Tapaskruta Devi

Introduction

Somnatheshwarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva located at Melpadi Village in Vellore District of Tamilnadu. Melpadi is a small village on the Thiruvalam – Ponnai road. It is assumed that the temple was built by Parantaka Chola I between 907 and 953 A.D. and later developed by Rajaraja Cholan (985-1014 A.D.).This Temple is being maintained by Archeological Society of India. This is about 12 kms from Thiruvalam towards Vallimalai(Ponnai). It is close to the shore of the Pennar river and was the border between Chola and Rashtrakuta kingdoms.

Puranic Significance

Melpadi is close to the shore of the Pennar river and was the border between Chola and Rashtrakuta kingdoms. There are two Chola period temples found in this town, Somanadheeswarar temple and Choleeswarar temple. Somanadheeswarar temple is bigger in size and has many interesting architectural features. Choleeswarar temple is a Palli Padai Temple. During the Chola period, the town was called as Rajasrayapuram (named after a surname of Rajaraja Chola I). In 959 CE, the Rashtrakuta King Krishna III encamped in this town (as per the Karhad plates). This town acted as a garrison to guard the Chola lands from the attack of the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas. On the south wall of the sanctum, the inscription dated in the 14th year of the reign of Rajaraja Chola I is found. It talks about the conquest of Kudamali region and Pandyas. It also mentions about the Chola officer named Irayairavan Pallavayan, who served under Rajaraja. It is assumed that the temple was built by Parantaka Chola I between 907 and 953 A.D. and later developed by Rajaraja Cholan (985-1014 A.D.).

Special Features

The temple has south facing entrance. The outer entrance does not have tower. The inner entrance has a three-tiered tower, which is a later addition. The entire temple complex is surrounded by wide fortress walls. Presiding Diety is called as Somnatheshwarar. The sanctum faces the east direction and it enshrines a big sized Shiva Linga, Presiding Deity. Sanctum Vimanam is of stone dome type and the kalasam is also made of stone. The dome and the kalasam are dark black/ green colour stones. Two huge figures of Dwarapalas at the entrance of the sanctum are very attractive. The flagstaff, bali peetha and Nandi are found facing towards the direction of the sanctum, but they are separate by the wall from the sanctum. The Mukha Mandapam has the beautiful vratta sthamba (round pillars). Ganesha, Dhakshinamoorthi, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga are found as the niche images. They all look very attractive and do not belong to the original Chola period. They appear to be later additions. Mother is called as Tapaskruta Devi. The Goddess Tapaskruta Devi is found in a separate south facing shrine located in the outer prakara. The shrine has an attractive vimana and a mukha mandapam. This is a later addition probably done by the Vijayanagara King. The Chola period Kalyana Mandapam as well as few other mandapams that are found in the temple have beautiful sculptures depicted on the pillars. There are few small sized attractive and interesting bas relief images on the outer wall of the temple. The south eastern mandapam has many sculptures that include Ganesha, Sapta Matrikas, Veerabhadra, Naga Yagnopavita Vinayaka, Kankalanathar, Gangadhara, Rishbhantika Murti, Bhairava, Surya, Chandra, Nagas and Ayyanar. Some of them belong to the Chola period and the others to the later period. The southern outer wall in the second prakara has a small shrine of Ganesha. Outside the temple complex, there is a soldier’s sculpture found. He holds spear and shield in his arms. There is a big stone bowl and a Shiva Lingam (Avudayar in broken condition). As per the inscription found in this temple which belongs to the period of Rajaraja Chola I, the presiding deity was called as Cholendra Simhesvara in those days. There is lot of inscriptions around sanctum wall.

Festivals

Mahashivrathri

Century/Period/Age

907 and 953 A.D.

Managed By

Archeological Society of India.

Nearest Bus Station

Vallimalai Stop

Nearest Railway Station

Mukundarayapuram Station

Nearest Airport

Chennai

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