Fieldnotes: Tiruvoṟṟiyūr, Tamil Nadu, August 2019

On August 27, 2019, Emmanuel Francis visited the Śaiva temple complex at Tiruvoṟṟiyūr திருவொற்றியூர் (13°09’39.60″N, 80°17’56.30″E; Figs. 1‒2), in the North of Chennai (ex-Madras). The temple-site is one of the richest in inscriptions in the region, with no less than 200 inscriptions.

Fig. 1: Tiruvoṟṟiyūr R.S. (Railway Station), on the suburban lines of Chennai; entrance to the Temple of Śiva/Īśvaraṉ/Civaṉ.

Fig. 2

The inscriptions on the east wall (northern edge) of the prākāra proper of the Ādhipurīśvara are perfectly legible and well-lighted (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3

The oldest inscriptions, dated in the reigns of Pallava and Cōḻa kings, on slabs, were copied by the Archaeological Survey of India at a time they were built in the floor round the Ādhipurīśvara shrine. In the recent years alarming reports have appeared in the press (e.g. The Hindu, August 29, 2013): renovation, which included a new pavement on the floor round the Ādhipurīśvara, caused damage to some slabs, which were later reported to be displayed outside, under poor conditions.

There is in fact still an inscribed on the floor, in front of the entrance of the prākāra proper of the Ādhipurīśvara, which the devotees daily step on. But the majority (20) of the inscribed slabs are indeed now in a garden within the complex. They are there kept in open-air, but safe from the steps of the devotees. Among these are nice examples of Pallava-period inscriptions (Figs. 4‒5).

Fig. 4

Fig. 5


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