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Pandyas Kingdom – Religion & Temples


  • It is said that Pandyas were Jains initially and later adopted Saivism.
  • Inscriptions and the sculptures in the temples attest to this belief.
  • The early rock-cut cave temples were the outcrop of transitional stage in religion and architecture.
  • Medieval Pandyas and later Pandyas repaired many temples and endowed them with gold and land.
  • The vimanam over the sanctum of Srirangam and Chidambaram temples were covered with golden leaves.
  • Sadaiyavarman Sundarapandyan was anointed in Srirangam temple, and to commemorate it, he donated an idol of Vishnu to the temple.
  • The inner walls of this temple and three other gopurams were plated with gold.
  • Pandyas extended patronage to Vedic practices.
  • Palyagasalai Mudukudumi Peruvaluthi, who performed many Vedic rituals, is identified with Pandyas of the Sangam period.
  • Velvikkudi copper plates as well as inscriptional sources mention the rituals like Ashvamedayaga, Hiranyagarbha and Vajapeya yagna, conducted by every great Pandya king.
  • The impartiality of rulers towards both Saivism and Vaishnavism is also made known in the invocatory portions of the inscriptions.
  • Some kings were ardent Saivite; some were ardent Vaishnvavites.
  • Temples of both sects were patronised through land grant, tax exemption, renovation and addition of gopuras and spacious mandapas.


  • Pandyas built different models of temples.
  • They are sepulchral temple (e.g sundarapandisvaram), rock-cut cave temples and structural temples.
  • Medieval Pandyas and later Pandyas did not build any new temples but maintained the existing temples, enlarging them with the addition of gopuras, mandapas and circumbulations.
  • The monolithic mega-sized ornamented pillars are the unique feature of the medieval Pandya style.
  • The early Pandya temples are modest and simple.
  • In these temples of the Pandya country, the sculptures of Siva, Vishnu, Kotravai, Ganesa, Subramanya, Surya and Brahma are best specimens.
  • Pandyas specially patronised Meenakshi temple and kept expanding its premises by adding gopuras and mandapas.
  • The prominent rock-cut cave temples created by the early Pandyas are found in Pillayarpatti, Tirumayam, Kuntrakkudi, Tiruchendur, Kalugumalai, Kanyakumari and Sittannavasal.
  • Paintings are found in the temples in Sittannavasal, Arittaapatti, Tirumalaipuram and Tirunedunkarai.
  • A 9th century inscription from Sittannavasal cave temple informs that the cave was authored by Ilam Kautamar.
  • Another inscription of the same period tells us that Sri Maran Srivallaban renovated this temple.
  • The fresco paintings on the walls, ceilings and pillars are great works of art.
  • These paintings portray the figures of dancing girls, the king and the queen.
  • The painting of water pool depicts some aquatic creatures, flowers and birds and some mammals.
  • The maritime history of India would be incomplete if the history of the Pandyas of Tamil country is skipped.
  • The busiest port-towns were located all along the east coast of the Tamizh country.
  • By establishing matrimonial link with Southeast Asian dynasties, Pandyas left an imprint in maritime trade activities.

Cintamani, Mylapore, Tiruvotriyur, Tiruvadanai and Mahabalipuram are busy coastal trading centres recorded in inscriptions.

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