Tiruppudaimarudur Murals

Tiruppudaimarudur, in Ambasamudram Taluk of Tirunelveli has a temple for Shiva, worshipped as Narambunathar. The original structure goes back to 8-9th Cent. AD of early Pandyas, later expanded by Imperial Cholas and later Pandyas. The nearby town of Cheran Mahadevi, appears to have been the second capital of the Travancore (Venad) kings during the period of Chera Udaya Marthanda Varma. Tiruppadimarudur was an important military outpost and a lot of sculptures, prakara mandapas were done by them.

The huge five-tier raja gopuram, called Chitra gopura houses the finest of mural paintings and exquisite wood carvings assignable to Vijayanagar (14th-16th Century AD) and Nayak (16th – 17th Century AD) works. The paintings illustrate scenes from Sthala Purana, Tiruppudaimarudur Purana, Thiruvilayadal Puranam, Periya Puranam, Valli Thirumanam, Ramayana and Mahabharatha. Besides the puranic themes, one gets to see the socio-economical events of Vijayanagar period, as seen at Hampi.

The paintings are identified as Fresco-secco, and have Tamil labels in Tamil script of the 16th-18th Centuries explaining the paintings.

Have a look at panel 13 in tier 2 of the Rajagopuram, where the Vijayanagara king is presenting gits to the Pandya dignitaries, and the return of the Pandya King Srivallabha back to Madurai.

Achyuta Deva Raya is seen seated on a highly decorated throne in the right corner with his right hand holding a silk garment which he is portrayed in the pose of giving to the person standing before him. The hands of the reciever are extended as Adana hasta (palm extended).

Four persons of high status are portrayed in front of him. The first is in supplication while the next two have an upadesa mudra as if giving advice and the last one keeps his hand on the mouth in absolute obedience. Look at the pattern of dhothies, and a garment tied like a belt on the dhoti. The fine upper garment is stitched like a short angarkha top which is inserted in the dhoti.

Nuniz states that King Achyuta Deva Raya used to present costly silk shawls to honour the soldiers who fought in wars.


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