Chola Rulers including Kulothunga I, Vikrama Chola Deva and Raja Raja contributed immensely to the upkeep of the temple but the temple now craves for attention
Parikara Sthalam for getting back one's eye sight
Temples in Tamil Nadu that once upon a time flourished with expansive gifts from the rulers of those days have deteriorated and today find themselves in a sorry state.
One such is the 1000year old Rajagopalaswamy temple in Manimangalam housed on a 1 ¼ acre area, about 12kms West of Tambaram, a temple whose construction dates back to the Chola period and one that is abound with rich stone inscriptions providing us with insights into the glory of this temple.
Conch in his right hand
Moolavar Lord Rajagopalaswamy is seen in a standing posture with a Conch Shell in his right hand and a discus in his left hand. This is also a temple that Ramanuja is believed to have visited.
1000year old inscriptions
The temple is abound with inscriptions in Tamil and Sanskrit earliest of which dates back to the 11th Century AD and continued to find updates of contribution to the temple with the passing of each century.
On the South wall of the central shrine of this temple is an inscription in Sanskrit that records a grant made to Lord Rajagopalaswamy. A Tamil inscription on the same wall records a sale of 4000 kuli of land. Another inscription dating back to Chola Raja Raja I records a gift made by members of the mahasabha to this temple.
On the North and West walls of the temple, inscriptions indicate gifts provided for the offerings and expenses of worship of the temple by making 3200kuli of land.
Gifting by Kulothunga I
An 1118AD inscription records a grand of 4450kuli of land. A few more inscriptions dating to 12th Century AD and to the period of Kulothunga I registers gift of land to the temple as well as the grant of land for providing offerings to the temple.
Several Inscriptions relating to 12Century AD
Two inscriptions on the west wall of the temple relating to Vikrama Chola Deva, in his 13th year of reign, and again to the 12th Century AD, provide us insights into the purchases of land for the offerings at the temple. A 1154AD inscription in Tamil on the outside of the East wall of the inner prakara records a donation of tax free lands to the temple for sacred offerings.
Inscriptions on the North and East Walls dating to 1198AD record gifts of four lamps for the temple.
Raja Raja's Contribution to Manimangalam
Inscriptions dating to 13th Century AD and to the rule of Raja Raja II/III record resolutions relating to gifts for the deity. Another interesting inscription of 1229AD and to the rule of Raja Raja III talks about payments into the treasury for maintaining the Sannidhi lamps. On the South wall in Tamil is an inscription dating to the rule of Jatavarma Sundara Pandya that records the sale by a devotee of a Pattam to be worn by the deity.
Inscriptions also indicate gifts of several lamps by devotees and also gift of gold to support the continuous burning of the lamps.
Craves for Attention
A temple that once seems to have thrived with rich gifts from the then rulers and the devotees alike is now bereft of funds so much so that the festivals have been limited to just one - Garuda Seva in Puratasi. The temple does not have a gopuram.
The surrounding area around the Central Shrine is full of thick bushes with snakes running into the Madapalli on a regular basis giving the priest a scare. Except for select days in the year, devotees have by and large given this ancient temple a miss, though the story goes that this temple is believed to be a Parikara Sthalam for bringing back ‘eye sight’.
Those who wish to support the temple and to bring back the lost glory including the conduct of festivals can contact Jayaraman Bhattar @ 88707 25799
Moolavar: Rajagopalaswamy standing posture facing East
Thaayar : Shengamala Valli Thaayar (Separate Sannidhi)
Temple Time: 7am- 10am and 4pm-7pm
How to reach
The temple is about 12kms from Tambaram on the Mudichur road and 5kms from Vandalur on the Sriperambudur highway. One can take the Tambaram- Sriperambudur bus (route numbers: 55N, 80, 583C, 583D) to reach the temple