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Our Heritage Journal ISSN 0474-9030 is a multidisciplinary journal for research publication. Urgent Notice to authors: Note: Removed from UGC-CARE List on 27th Feb 2020. Title of the document

Gudimallam Parasurameswara Temple: Most Ancient Shiva Lingam in the World

Shiva Lingam @ Parasurameshwara Temple

Gudimallam (குடிமல்லம்), a freaky village located in Yerpedu Mandal (எர்பேடு மண்டல்), Chittur (சித்தூர்) district, Andhra Pradesh state, India Pin Code 517526. Gudimallam village should not be confused with Mallam (Pithapuram) village in Pithapuram Mandal, East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh or with Mallam (Nellore) village, Chittamur Mandal, SPSR Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh.

The geographical Coordinates of Gudimallam are 13° 60' 1" North (latitude), 79° 57' 0" East (longitude) It is located on a diversion from the Tiruchanur (திருச்சானூர்) road at a distance of 18.9 km from Tirupathi (திருப்பதி) and 8.7 km from Renigunta (ரேணிகுண்டா) Jn. railway station; 82 km towards East from District head quarters Chittoor (சித்தூர்).  It is 10.4 km from Yerpedu (எர்பேடு), 25 km from Pallam (பள்ளம்) and 438.5 km from State capital Hyderabad (ஹைதராபாத்). Renigunta (8.3 km), Tirupathi (20.8 km), Srikalahasti (ஸ்ரீ காளஹஸ்தி) (21.6 km,) Narayanavanam (நாராயணவனம்) (20,1 km), Puttur (புத்தூர்) (17.8 km) are the nearby railway stations. From Chennai (சென்னை) the village is 95.6 km away. The other state capitals are Pondicherry (பாண்டிச்சேரி) 186.7 km and Bangalore (பெங்களூர்) 228.3 km. Buses to Gudimallam village are available from Tirupati Bus Stand and the frequency is less on this route. However you will get auto-rickshaws from Renigunta Jn. railway station and the to and fro trip may cost around Rs. 250/- The Gudimallam village has the population of 2071 of which 1025 are males while 1046 are females as per Population Census 2011.

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Gudimallam Gateway
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Gudimallam Temple Prakaram
The curling muddy road will be leading along the Swarnamukhi river bank, and its dry Swarnammukhi river bed, picturesque paddy fields towards Gudimallam village. The age old temple stands amidst paddy fields. The tall gateway appear without any tower. The temple usually appear deserted except occasional visitors. 

Architecture

Historically, Gudimallam village is significant since it is the home for the ancient  Parasurameswara (பரசுராமேஷ்வரா) (Shiva) Temple. The temple is protected by ASI since from 1954 and according to some learned sources the Parasurameshwara temple has a 2200 year old history as the longest continuously worshiped Shiva temple (சிவன் கோவில்) in the world. The centuries-old prime sanctum is built with brick super-structure (hara, griva and shikara) studded with stucco images (சுதை உருவங்கள்) and the granite substructure (from adishtana to prastara) and the plinth of the vimana has prativaribanda adhistana (பிரதிவரிபந்த அதிஷடானம்) with the components of upana (உபானம்), jagadi (ஜகதி), vritta (round) kumuda  (உருள்குமுதம்) mouldings. The external walls are segmented by pilasters (அரைத்தூண்கள்) and carry niches (கோஷ்டங்கள்) housing the images of Ganesha, Vishnu and Brahma.  The upper tala (தளம்) (storey) built with brick and lime mortar carries hara with apsidal sala shikata (கஜபிருஷ்ட சால சிகரம்). Three metal stupis (finials) crowning the shikara of the vimana.

The vimana over prime sanctum has an apsidal shape i.e., gaja prishta vimana (கஜபிருஷ்ட விமானம்) meaning 'back of an elephant' due to its structural design. The apsidal vimana of Parasurameswara is hollow inside  and the vimana is named as Lingakriti (லிங்கக்ருதி) vimana since the elevation of the vimana resembles the shape of the Shiva Lingam. The sanctum has a false ceiling over wooden joists. Gaja prishta vimanas, in general can be seen in many Chola built temples around Chennai and its suburbs. This east facing sanctum is enclosed all around externally by a peristylar cloister (திருச்சுற்று மண்டபம்) and the entrance to the sanctum is through the south side of the mahamandapa.

A separate shrine for goddess is located at north west corner of the temple. Also there are shrines for minor for parivara devatas (associate deities) like Kartikeya (Subramanya) and Suryanarayana. The temple sanctums are enclosed by tall perimeter wall around the periphery with towerless gateway from the west.

It is believed that the bana and the peeta were under the tree. Successive rulers i.e., Pallavas, Cholas, Banas and Vijayanagara kings augmented the structures. The apsidal shaped sanctum could be the most ancient part of this temple since sanctum flooring is much lower than the floorings of antarala and mukhamandapam.  

The excavations carried by ASI (former director of ASI Dr.I.K.Sarma) during 1973 has retrieved black and redware sherds (date) assignable to 2nd - 3rd century A.D. The potsherds and the large size bricks (42 x 21 x 6 cm) retrieved from the site made the scholar to assign the temple to Satavahana  (சாதவாகனர்கள்) period. ASI prefers to call it the earliest extant Shiva Lingam in India.

Iconography - Shiva Linga

The prime deity seven sided monolithic Shiva Lingam (Savedika Linga), measuring about five feet (1.35 meter) in height and one feet in diameter is housed in the prime sanctum. The Shiva Lingam is believed to be the manifestation of the Hindu Trinity; Brahma manifests at the bottom; Vishnu at the mid-part and Shiva on top. The Shiva Lingam depicts the tall and wide bana. The Linga is openly set up within the square base. The square base is surrounded by a low three barred railings on slabs and the top railings found damaged and now replaced with new slabs during renovation. The bana and the peeta alone are considered as the most ancient form and all the remaining structural augmentations are later additions by rulers of various dynasties.  

It is interesting to find a deep slanting groove cut about one floor from top of the bana. Within the groove the sculptors have carefully sculpted the high relief image of a hunter! The hunter exhibits perfect anatomical proportions and his torso resembles the shape of a bull's head. The image is well built with broad shoulders, narrow hips, tight buttocks and toned abdominal muscles. He is radiating an abundance of vitality and energy. The hunter stands in sthanaka posture and spreading his legs wide apart and his feet are firmly planted on the shoulders of Amarapurusha (crouching dwarf yaksha). His face is peaceful and serene, if not smiling.The two armed idol exhibits both hands keep hanging loosely. His right hand holds the dead goat by the hind legs and his left hand also holds a globular pot and it also clutches the long thick battle axe (parasu) (கோடாரி) at its handle. The fierce weapon also rests on his left shoulder. According to some scholars the image of the hunter represents 'Vedic (வேதகால) and proto puranic (புராண காலத்திற்கு முந்தைய) concepts of Rudra (உருத்திரன்).' 

His hair is arranged like jatabhara 'burden of braids' characterized by large number of penetential plaits worn in a bunch. His elongated ear-lobes wear heavier ring shaped kundalas. Elongated ear lobes have become a sign of power, nobility and wealth. His neck is adorned with sarapali (most elaborate neck jewelry) around his neck; armlets with keyura / tholvalai (ornament around arms) on his shoulder-arms; elbow with kangana (elbow jewelry - bracelets of beads on each wrist (thick usually 3 – 5 strings) on his elbow; wrists with kataka valai / bangles in the wrists; rib cage with udarabandha - broad ornamental belt below the ribs; and thin garment worn around the waist are generously pleated and also wears beaded katibandha (hip belt) around the waist. Unusually the hunter has no yagnopavitha. 

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The dwarf / Amarapurusha
The Amarapurusha seen seated on his knee and his body appear shrunken. His face show tight teeths - may be he is finding it difficult to balance the weight of the super Lord. His ears appear like leaves.

Legend

Gudimallam temple legend speaks about puranic tale about Sage Parasurama. The sage beheaded his mother at the behest of his father. He sought advice of his guru the ways and means to relinquish his sin of killing one’s own mother. He was advised to pursue and locate the Shiva Lingam and observe penance as a remedial measures. 

Sage Parasurama, after much pursuit, located Gudimallam Shiva Lingam and dug a pond nearby to observe penance. The sage noticed the blossoming of single holy flower everyday at the pond and he submitted the flower at the feet of Gudimallam Shiva Lingam. To protect the Lingam from external beasts, he assigned the task of guarding the flower with Chitrasena (சித்திரசேனை), a yakshi (celestial servant). The yakshi received toddy and the hunted animal from Parasurama as a reward for her guarding duty. One day Chitrasena offered the holy flower from the pond to Lord Shiva. Parasurama got enraged by the yakshi's act and attacked her with his axe. Chitrasena also retaliated severe blow. The fight prolonged for 14 years and finally a pit formed nearby. From then on wards the temple was known as 'Gudipallam' or temple at the pit. Over the period the temple name changed as 'Gudimallam.'

Inscription

Number of inscriptions have been identified on the inner walls of the Parasurameshwara Temple and also over stone slabs in the courtyard of the temple. Many of the inscribed records speak of the perpetual gifts made by several rulers and these  have been assigned to the rulers of Ganga Pallavas, Pallavas, Cholas and Bana dynasty. 

The most ancient inscription of the Parasurameshwara temple is assignable to twenty-third regnal year of Nandivarma Pallava III and datable to 802 A.D.  An inscription dated in twenty-fourth reganl year of Nrpatungavarman records the donation from Vanavidyadhara-Mahabali Vanaraya.  In the 49th regnal year inscription of Dantivarman (778 - 829 A.D.) speaks about the grant was to Gudimallam (no. 226 of 1903) when the Bana king Vijayaditya I, (796 - 835 AD.) son of Jayanandivarman served vassal / feudatary of Dantivarma Pallvan. The geneology of Banas of the Perumbanappadi is furnished by the Gudimallam and Udayendiram plates. The latest inscription at the temple is assignable to Yadava Devaraya (AD. 1346). Gudimallam (as well as Kolar) served as the capital of Bana dynasty. An inscription of the time of Vikrama Chola refers to a complete rebuilding of the temple in 1126 AD., along with flat gopura and the wall. Surprisingly none of these inscriptions refer the village name as ‘Gudimallam.’ However the village is referred to as ‘Viprapita’ i.e., ‘Brahmana Agrahara’ and Lord Shiva represented as fierce hunter. 

Temple Timings: The temple is open from 06.00 am to 08.00 pm

Reference
  1. Gudimallam (Wikipedia)
  2. Gudimallam. Papanaidupeta, Kalahasti, Tirupathi .(http://www.krishnababug.com/2009/03/gudimallam-papanaidupeta-kaala-hasti.html)
  3. Gudimallam Linga - Satavahana Style. (http://indiatemple.blogspot.in/2004/12/gudimallam-linga-satavahana-style.html)
  4. Mysterious saga of a 2,200 year old lingam. (http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146413274

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