Fieldnotes: Tiruppattūr, Tamil Nadu, August 2019
From August 11 to 15, 2019, Emmanuel Francis (CNRS), Valérie Gillet (EFEO, Paris) and Babu N. Ramaswamy (EFEO, Pondicherry) surveyed sites with inscriptions in the Sivaganga, Viruthunagar and Madurai districts in the State of Tamil Nadu. The principal goal was to locate, document and read inscriptions of the Early Pāṇḍyas (9th and 10th c.) pre-selected on the basis of the corpus collected and translated by K.G. Krishnan (Inscriptions of the Early Pāṇḍyas, 2002, hereafter IEP).
In Tiruppattūr திருப்பத்தூர் (Tiruppattūr Taluk, Sivaganga District), designated as Tiruputtūr in the inscriptions, we were looking, in the Tiruttaḷinātār திருத்தளிநாதார் Temple, for two inscribed slabs and found … three.
The two slab inscriptions we were looking for are preserved on a platform in the North-West corner of the inner prākāra.
Dated respectively to the late 8th and late 9th century, both inscriptions record endowments for maintaining a perpetual lamp (to Tiruttaḷi-Perumāṉaṭikaḷ of Tirupputtūr according to one). One is in Tamil language and Vaṭṭeḻuttu script (IEP 12), while the other (IEP 44) starts with Sanskrit verses in Grantha script, followed by Tamil prose in Vaṭṭeḻuttu script.
The unexpected inscribed slab, possibly newly-found and not yet recorded, was nearby, at the entrance of a the Akattiyar Liṅga shrine (அகத்தியர் லிங்கம்). Like IEP 44, it consists in Sanskrit verse in Grantha script followed by Tamil prose, but in Tamil script this time.
As for the inscribed slab (IEP 47) reported, in the beginning of 20th century, to be in the Āṅkāḷ Ammaṉ Temple, on the other side of the big tank immediately to the north of the Tiruttaḷinātār temple, it has been missing for years. A lady who has been taking care of the temple for more than 10 years has never heard of such a slab.