Choleeswarar Temple, Melpadi, Vellore
|Architectural style:||Dravidian architecture|
Legend / Local stories
Choleeswarar temple, the tomb shrine of Arinjaya Chola was built over the mortal remains of Arinjaya Chola (AD 956 – 967), who died in a war at Arur near Thakkolam by his grandson Chola Rajaraja I in the year AD 1014. This Temple is located in the opposite direction of Somanadheeswarar temple. This is comparatively a small temple. This east facing Cholesvara Temple aka Arinjigai Isvaram complex is located on the river bank of Ponnai at the out skirts of the village Melpadi and surrounded by the green paddy fields and shady trees.
The temple complex is well maintained and protected within Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) fence. The granite temple structure does not show any complex plan and the temple never enlarged by royal successors. The architectural elements ‘reflect Chola convention.’ This whole granite structure stands within the rectangular compound defined by granite perimeter walls. The Vesara vimana of the main sanctum is small and typically square and includes sanctum (garbhagriha) Ardhamandapam and mukhamandapam.
From upana to stupi, the vimana is built with green tinged granite stone. Shivalingam (3 – 4 feet tall) is present in a 10 sq. ft sanctum sanctorum. There is an Ardhamandapam before the sanctum. The external vimana walls are divided into segments and the segmenting is marked by pilasters. The plain outer walls of this particular vimana have brahmakanta pilasters (four sided) and plain Karnapathis. Although there is a slight projection of the sala-koshtas, there is almost no depth to house the deities. It appears that the sala-koshta deities might be later additions.
The vimana has the very austere basement (adhishtana) of padabandha type with the components of upa-peeta, upana, jagadi, tri-patta kumuda moulding. There is an arrangement of friezes of bas-relief lion at the kodungai. The external wall surface is divided by pilasters in to well-shaped ornate niches with makara torana. The sculptures in the niches include Dhakshinamoorthi, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga and these could be later additions.
On both sides of the entrance to the main sanctum, there are two tall, robust Dwarapalakas standing facing each other. Both the Dwarapalakas are best examples of Early Chola sculptures, demonstrating the mastery of the Chola sculptors. Makara Toranas are seen over each of the niche images (around the external walls of the sanctum), with Saint Kannappa Nayanar in the toranam over the niche without deity, Bhikshatana accompanied by two Rishi-patnis in the toranam over Dhakshinamoorthi, Krishna in the toranam over Vishnu and the King (Rajaraja I) worshiping Shivalinga (Arinjaya) in the toranam over Brahmma.
There are many inscriptions all over the sanctum wall. The inscriptions are mainly about donations made in the form of ewe to supply ghee to burn the perpetual lamp in the temple till moon and sun endure, Rajaraja’s meikeerthi, the boundaries of the land given for construction of the temple, watering to Iluppai field (from the seeds oil is extracted to burn the lamps). From the inscriptions the place Melpadi belongs to Tunadu, a subdivision of Perumbanapadi in a district of Jayamkonda Chola Mandalam. The ancient name of the Melpadi is mentioned as Rajasrayapuram and the Choleeswarar Temple was called as ArinjigaiIswara or Arinjiswara.
How to Reach:
This Temple is located in the opposite direction of Somanadheeswarar temple. The Temple is located at about 750 meters from Melpadi Bus Stop, 7 Kms from Vallimalai, 8 Kms from Ponnai, 12 Kms form Thiruvalam, 22 Kms from Katpadi, 17 Kms from Ranipet, 21 Kms from Arcot, 30 Kms from Vellore and 143 Kms from Chennai. This temple is situated on the way to Vallimalai on the Tiruvallam – Ponnai Road.
The temple is about 17 Kms from Ranipet on the Chittoor Road. A little before Ponnai a bridge across the River Bahuda cuts off on the left to reach Melpadi. The temple is just after the bridge on the right of the road. On the left is a small temple to Lord Choleeswarar, also in ASI control. Nearest Railway Stations are located at Thiruvalam (13 Kms), Mukundarayapuram (13 Kms), Bommasamudram (20 Kms) and Katpadi (23 Kms). Nearest Airport is located at Chennai (120 Kms).