Dr. R. Nagaswamy
Kadambur is now a small village about twenty five kilo meters from Chidambaram. It is an ancient village going back to 6th cent or even earlier. It was a Siva kshetra sung by the saivite Nayanmars.. The present village is in two parts as the Western village, Melak-kadambur and the Eastern village, Kilakkadambur, both virtually treated as two separate villages.. There are Chola temples constructed in the 12th cent in both the villages. The Siva temple now located in Melak-kadambur is identical with Thiruk Karakkoyil sung by the Nayanmars.
It is a unique structure in which the main temple vimana is in the form of a wheeled chariot – the celestial ratha – drawn by horses. It is built enitrely of granite stone from base to top. Inscriptions found engraved on the walls of the temple clearly suggest that it was built of stone in the time of the Chola Emperor Kulottunga Chola I, who ruled between 1070 to 1125 AD. It was built in the later half of his reign. The earlier temple probably in brick has obviously been rebuilt in the time of Kulottunga. There are several features unique to the temple besides its shape as a chariot. The walls of the temple carry images –stone sculptures – representing various forms of Siva but also many other deities including devotees. Some of these sculptures carry labels inscribed beneath them mentioning that Siva was worshipped by Devendra, Sage Patanjali, Chandra and so on. One represent sage Romasa rishi who worshipped Siva. The temple carries beautiful forms of dancings girls below the cornice.
The temple also houses several processional images of exquisite beauty, consecrated in the time of Kulottunga chola. The collection also includes one metal image of Siva dancing on the back of Nandi and surrounded by Ganesa, Subrahmanya, Bringi, Nandi, Bhairava and ganas. This particular image is from Bengal made in the time of the Pala rulers who were contemporaries of the Cholas of Tamilnad. This metal image belongs to 9th – 10th cent. It might have been brought by the Rajaguru of Kulottunga who hailed from Bengal. It is one of the finest and early bronze image of the Pala dynasty but found in Tamilnad. It also establishes a close link between Bengal and Chidambaram in the Chola times. Plans are on to renovate this great temple. Regular worship is being conducted now but the festivals conducted once on a great scale suffer now for want of finance. The people of the village are keenly interested in reviving the festivals on a great scale.
The temple at Kilakkadambur is eaqually interesting. It is a big stone temple different in shape but is unfortunately in ruins. The top of the vimana has totally disappeared. The whole temple is covered with vegetation and shrubs. No worship is being conducted . Many of the fine images are still in their respective niches but some are in the village hall. An interesting feature of this temple is the portrayal of sculptures of the 63 Saiva saints on the base of the vimana with their names inscribed beneath them. The labels remain but the sculptures are no more found. This temple built almost at the same time in 12 the cent as the one at Melakkadambur also deserves to be cleaned and brought under worship by devotees.