The Temples of Tirupati – The Kapileswara Temple

This is a small temple situated about two miles to the north of Tirupati town on the eastern bank of the Kapila-tirtham tank which is also known as Alvar-tirtham. There is a pillared verandah on the eastern, southern and western banks of the tank. The Kapilesvara temple is situated above the eastern verandah, in the north-eastern comer. It is built into a concave bend in the rugged natural rock behind.
Five inscriptions, one found in the Kapilesvara temple, and four found round the tank below, help us to trace the history of this temple. The earliest of these records is incised on the doorjamb of the Mukhamantapa of the temple and states that the structure was erected by a certain Rayan-Rajendrasolan alias Brahmarayan – Munaiyadarayan the head of the village of Kottur (1-20). The next record, dated 1531 A.D., mentions that the Vijayanagara emperor, Achyutaraya, set up steps of black granite stone on the sides of the sacred Chakratirtham of Timvengadamudaiyan or Sri Venkatesvara and constructed the Sandhyavandanamantapam on die three sides of the tank (IV-8). The third inscription, dated 1544A.D., states that during the reign of Sadasivaraya a certain Tallapakam Periya- Tirumalaiyyangar made a gift for conducting Sattumurai for Nammalvar enshrined at Alvar-tirtham during the Adhyayanotsavam, (V-34). The fourth record, dated 1563 A.D., in the reign of Sadasivaraya, states drat as the Prakara, walls and kitchen of Kapilesvarasvami temple were damaged by thunder, a certain Rachavittu-nayakar reconstructed them and that a dancing girl,
named Sewusani, installed Ganapati in the nrittamantapa of the temple (V-172). The last inscription, dated in 1865A.D., mentions that Mahant Dharma Das renovated the steps and mantapas of the Kapila-tirtham tank.
The village of Kottur mentioned above seems to have been in existence for a long time before Tirupati came into existence and flourished at least up to the time of Achyutaraya. It then included the Kapilesvara temple within its boundaries. The earliest of the records mentioned above does not mention the name of the god, Kapilesvara, and his temple, as such, comes to be mentioned for the first time in 1563 A.D. We do not know by which name the temple and its god were known previously. Similarly, the tank, now known as Kapila- tirtham, existed before 1531 A.D. but we do not know under which name it was known previously. Achyutaraya gave it the name Chakratirtha and ascribed its ownership to Sri Venkatesvara. Vishnu’s Chakra or Sudarsana is otherwise known as Chakrattalvar, as anAyudhapurusha. The word Alvar included in this name might have given the alternative name of Alvar-tirtham to the tank. Munaiyadarayan, the founder of the temple, must have been a subordinate of the Chola king, Rajendra Chola, who flourished between 1012 and 1044 A.D. The architectural style of the Garbhagriha and Antarala of the temple indicate clearly that they were built in the Chola times and bear close resemblance to the architectural features of the Parasaresvara temple of JogiMallavaram which has to be assigned to about the middle of the tenth century A.D.
The temple consists of an open pillared verandah in the front, a Mukhamantapa beyond it, and a semicircular pradakshiria beyond, enclosing the Garbhagriha and the Antarala. To the south there is a small shrine with a Gaibhagriha and Antarala belonging ta Kamakshi, the consort of Kapilesvara. To the further south thereif’ • a square hall wherein the pradakshina ends. •’■‘<■4
The four pillars of the verandah in the front are of the early Vijayanagara type. There is an entrance in the back wall guarded by two dvarapalakas standing in dvibhangi holding damaru in the upper right hand, trisula in the upper left hand, resting the lower right hand on gada and keeping the lower left hand in katyavalambita. Built into the back wall is a small shrine in the southern half of the verandah containing a fine icon of Kumarasvami. Before this shrine is the figure of a yogi and adjacent to it is a fine image of Ganapati, possibly removed from the nrittamandapa in which it was originally installed by a temple damsel.
The Mukhamantapa is a rectangular structure and contains three rows of three pillars each with corresponding pilasters in the walls in the north and south. These pillars are of the Vijayanagara style. There is a small Nandi facing the Antarala.
The Antarala is narrower than the Garbhagriha. Both stand on an adhishtana which is low and consists of upana, gala, patta, gala, tripatta, and alingapattika. The walls above are about six feet high. The walls of the Garbhagriha have, on each side, four pilasters of the Chola style. The kapota or cornice above is decorated with vertical ribbon cuttings and with nasikas above the pilasters below. On the edge of the roof is another patta with similar ribbon cuttings. The Vimana on the roof is incomplete and merges into the rock above. Its first tala contains a row of Kuta, panjara, sala, panjara and kuta. The walls of the Antarala have only two pilasters, one at each end. Its front wall has one pilaster on either side of the entrance. The architrave above it contains a row of vertical ribbon cuttings. To the right of the entrance on a pial is a small image of Ganapati and to the left, on another pial, is a figure of Kumarasvami. The Garbhagriha contains in its centre the linga of Kapilesvara on a vedi.
; TtegtaMklhi shrine, to the south of Kapilesvara’s Garbha- Of I narrow Antarala and a garbhagriha.
Then il an arc like pradakshina round the Kapilesvara and Kamakshi ihrinei. There is a small image of devi opposite the water outlet of the Kapilesvara shrine in the northern part of this passage.
Then is a big hall to the south of the two shrines mentioned, above. It contains four big pillars in the centre, all in the Vijayanagara Style. There is an image of Dakshinamurti set up against the northern wall, and the icons of Alinganachandrasekharamurti and Surya set up against the east wall. Next to them is the gate- way leading tQ the pradakshina. A long compartment has been formed at the western part of the hall wherein the utsavamurtis are kept.
The following icons found in this temple are of interest:-

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