Thiruketheeswaram Inscription of the Reign of Rajaraja I

Thiruketheeswaram Inscription of the Reign of Rajaraja I
Thiruketheeswaram Pillar Inscription of the Reign of Rajaraja I is one of the Tamil Inscription of Sri Lanka. It was discovered in Thiruketheeswaram during the early years of the 20th century (Pathmanathan, 2005). It was removed from the original location and taken to the National Museum of Colombo for conservation. 

The inscription has been engraved on all four sides of the pillar. In its present state of preservation, the inscription has 95 lines of writing (Pathmanathan, 2005). Scholars have dated this inscription to the reign of the Indian Chola King Rajaraja I [(c. 985–1014) Pathmanathan, 2005]. It records the construction of a temple named Rajarajesvaram at Matottam by a Chola agent called Tali Kumaran and endowments made to it for conducting daily worship and rituals (Pathmanathan, 2005). 

Thiruketheeswaram Pillar Inscription of the reign of King Rajaraja Cola 
Reign: King Rajaraja I (c. 985–1014)
Period: 10-11th century A.D.
Script: Tamil of the 10-11th centuries A.D.
Language: Tamil of the 10-11th centuries A.D.
Transcript: Face A: (1) ......Cola man (2)talattu ksa (3)triya cikam (4)ni valanat (5)tu velar na...>>
Translation: Tali Kumaran, the utaiyan of Cirukurranallur of Velarnatu in Kshatriyasikamani Valanatu...>>
Reference: Pathmanathan, 2005.

Although this inscription mainly reveals the temple of Rajarajesvaram and its endowments, it also contains significant details about the character of Chola's occupation of Matottam and its hinterland (Pathmanathan, 2005). Furthermore, it records information about social and economic conditions in the city of Matottam (Pathmanathan, 2005).

Ancient Rajarajesvaram temple
It is assumed that this pillar could be one of the columns that supported some kind of building or structure attached to the temple (Pathmanathan, 2005). However, presently, any evidence about the ancient Rajarajesvaram temple that is mentioned in the inscription has not been identified in Thiruketheeswaram, the locality where the pillar inscription was discovered (Pathmanathan, 2005). 

Ancient Thiruketheeswaram temple
Thiruketheeswaram was famous in ancient times for its Saiva temple with the same name (Pathmanathan, 2005). Pilgrims from South India are said to have visited the site and according to some hymns sung by them, the Thiruketheeswaram temple was located in the city of Matottam (Pathmanathan, 2005). 

As the aforesaid inscription of Rajaraja I was found in the Thiruketheeswaram area, some have surmised that the temple mentioned in this epigraph as Rajarajesvaram could be the new name of the ancient Thiruketheeswaram temple that was renamed after the name of King Rajaraja I during the reign of the same monarch (Veluppillai, 1972).

1) Pathmanathan, S., 2005. Tamil inscriptions in the Colombo National Museum: Spolia Zeylanica. Vol 47. (2010). Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka, pp.1-13.
2) Veluppillai, A., 1972. Ceylon Tamil Inscriptions: Part II. Kandy: Royal Printers. p.49.

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This page was last updated on 14 January 2023

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