The book is based on extensive survey of Vijayanagara-Nayaka temples in the Natuatu sub-division of Tamilnadu, the topographical entity that covers the land falling in between Tirukkoyilur in the west to the Bay in the east. The history, architecture and iconography of the temples examined are those of Trivikrama (Tirukkovalur), Vrdha-girisvara (Vrddhacalam), Varadaraja (Panrutti), Vaidhyanathasvami (Tittakuti), Tirukkamesvara (Villiyanur), including the Cola temple at Bakur and so on Most temples examined in this book are unreported. I is based on excellent field work. Nearly 1,000 photographic illustrations were collected for the purpose of which about 100 are illustrated. Though most of the temples claim hoary antiquity, all these attained full-fledged from under the Vijayanagara-Nayaka rulers of Tamilnadu; particularly the Nayakas of Tancavur, Cenci and Maturai.
The history of the temples is mainly based on literary and epigraphical sources. An important contribution is that all the hymns of the Alvars (Visnu) and Nayanmar (Siva) bearing on the temples have been brought to English.
Some western scholars from the England and Ohio (USA) have written on one or two temples of the region (e.g. Srimusnam/Tirumuttam, Citamparam) that suffer mainly from the handicap of not-investigating the Tamil sources and Tamil sources and traditions. These scholars record the Tamil sources in “half-man” style.
The present work is an authoritative account of the Nayaka temples in the region mainly reflecting on architecture and iconography. The author is a creative sculptor and speaks in the language of as silpacarya.
Dr. M. Regunath is basically trained in the western-turned-Indian modern art faculty. He took his BFA (Bharathiar Palkalaikoodam, Pondicherry University) and MFA (Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore University). He chose to do his M.Phil. and Pd.D. in the Tamil University of Thanjavur under the inspiration of Prof. Raju Kalidos.
He is a creative sculptor and researcher, and brilliant scholar. During his career of intensive research in the Tamil University, he has attended several conferences of the South Indian History Congress and published articles. He is also a member of the Tamilnadu History Congress.
He has participated in several National Level “artist camps” and won several awards. He did his research works in the Tamil University. His M.Phil. thesis on the Tirukkamesvara temple is awaiting published. He has extensively travelled all over Indian and Tamilnadu and participated in artists camps and scholarly seminars. He has concentrated on the Vijayanagara-Nayaka art in Central Tamilnadu that is called Natunatu. He hasplans to survey the entire gamut of Vijayanagara-Nayaka temples of the region mainly from the point of sculptor. His aim is to prove “western scholarship” is a phantom when compared with “Indian scholarship “ on subjects dealing with Indian and Dravidian art.
For the present study the author has undertaken fieldwork all over Central Tamilnadu and other regious. He took me to the field once along with Dr.R.K.K. Rajarajan who did most of the photographic work. For the drawing he hired the services of a draftsman. The drawings and photographic album are rich as one may find at the far end. The publishers in their original format.
The book is in six chapters, followed by the conclusion, glossary, drawings and photographic illustrations.
The first chapter introduces the selected temples with due credit to their topographical setting.
The second chapter presents the historical setting of the temples with due reference to literature and epigraphy. The most striking aspect is the summary of several hundreds of Tamil bhakti hymns that were composed by the Alvars and Naynmar. This one may not field in any other book on art history of the Nayakas.
The third chapter deals with the layout of the temples and their architectural features.
The following three chapters deal with the iconography of Siva (IV), Visnu (V) and Devi, Barahma and the minor deities of the Hindu pantheon (VI). The author has discovered several new forms of Siva Visnu and Devi the are enumerated with due reference to their sastraic mandate and the rarity of the forms.
Theauthor is basically a modern artist who is skillfully trained in making sculptures. The artistic bent of clearly exhibited in this art of historical writing. The book is sure to be a feather on the cap of thee art history of Tamilnadu, especially of a period, i.e. Nayaka, of which there are only few volumes such as those of R.K.K. Rajarajan 2006 and J. Soundararajan 2013 that was published by the Sharada Publishing House, Delhi.
I have produced more than thirty Ph.Ds of which fifteen plus have been published by the Sharada Publishing House for which we are indebted to the (late) B.L. Bansal, Anjana Bansal and Bansal and Neha Bansal. I hope more publications shall follow suit.
The present book on the Nayaka temples of Central (or middle) Tamilnadu is the outcome of my research in the Department of Sculpture and Art History of the Tamil University of Thanjavur under the guidance of Prof. Dr Raju Kalidos during the years 2003-005. The landmass lies in between the Tontainatu and Colanatu region of the Tamil country is traditionally called Natunatu or Middle Tamilnadu. Natunata means interlaying country. A land of temples, a connected account of the temples in the region is still a desideratum. Temples in the region range from the Pallva to the Nayaka time. However, the aim of the present venture is to locate few of the temples where vestings of Vijayanagara-Nayaka time are as found and survey their sculptural wealth. This is mainly because of the reason that the Nayaka temples in Tamilnadu have not been properly surveyed. Our scholar Dr R.k.k. Rajarajan (Assistant Professor in History & Coordinator, The Eritrean Institute of Technology, Asmara, Eritrea; now in the Gandhigraman Rural University, Fine Arts Faculty)has published two volumes on Art of the Vijayanagara Nayakas: Architecture and Iconography. R. Radhakarishnan, M. Karkuzhali, N. Alamelu, K. Latha, K. Sumatri and number of scholars of the Tamil University of Thanjavur have done their doctoral dissertations on Nayaka temples of the various regions. My guide, Prof. Raju Kalidos, and few scholars (e.g.Jeyapriya Rajarajan) have contributed several articles on aspects of Nayaka art to scholarly publications. In spite of all these attempts, many of the Nayaka temples in Tamilnadu remain “forgotten”. Therefore, these present study has a special focus on the contributions of the Nayakas temples in the Natunatu region.
For the present study, I have consulted the primary sources in Tamil and Sanskrit and also Telugu and Kannada. However, the major emphasis is on the temples selected. The temple is the authority of its history and art heritage. For this purpose, the selected temples have been visited several times and the data recorded by field notes and photography.
The Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi, offered me a small contingency grant for travel and study. Though the funds were insufficient, I was able to invest the needed finance for both fieldwork and computation of the book. The Indian Bank of Puduchery offered me an educational loan to which I am indebted very much. I have visited museums in Chaennai and New Delhi. All these offorts enabled to travel safely in my research adventure.
My guide, Prof. Raju Kalidos, which pleasure paid visit all the temples with me and offered suggestions in thefield to cover various media of art such as stone and wood, particularly ter “temple cars” basing on the pioneering doctoral thesis (Kalidos 1982, published 1988, 1988). During another round of work, Dr Rajarajan came with me and was of great help to photograph the monuments. Therefore, all the photographs published in this work go to the credit of Dr Rajarajan. Nearly 22 roles of field has been deployed to photograph the sculpture and architectural aspects of the selected temples. I am deeply obliged to Dr Rajarajan. I had to visit the field again to prepare the ground plans of the templs and my senior colleague Dr P. Chandramohan accompanied me this time.
I am deeply obliged to the French Institute of Indology who were kind enough to all me to consult their library, provided Xerox copies of printed material and supplied some photographs. Dr Rajarajan’s collections from Germany were of primary use in the preparation of bibliography.
I am indebted to all those who were interested in my work and assisted me in the field and libraries. I am particularly indebted to my guru late Prof. A. Veluswamy Suthanthiran with whom I started working on the subject first. On his demise, I switched over my tutorship to Prof. Raju Kalidos. I am thankful to all my fellow scholars, particularly P. Ananda Murugan and Senthilnathan. I am obliged to all our staff of the Research section in the office. I thank everyone.
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