The Subrahmanya temple at Saluvankuppam, Tamil Nadu is considered as the oldest “Brick temple” and the oldest Sangam era temple. It was discovered by a group of archaeologists from ASI after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It is situated near the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram.
The Subrahmanya Temple is a shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity “Murugan.” The archaeologists believe that the shrine, unearthed in 2005, consists of two layers: a brick temple constructed during the Sangam period (the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD) and a granite Pallava temple dating from the 8th century AD and constructed on top of the brick shrine. Also, the brick temple excavated could be the oldest of its kind to be discovered in Tamil Nadu.
The inscriptions by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III and the Chola kings and Kulothunga Chola talks about the Subrahmanya temple at Thiruvizhchil (the present day Saluvanakuppam).
According to the archaeologists of ASI the garbhagriha or sanctum Sanctorum of the brick temple was filled with sand and covered with granite slabs upon which the newer temple was constructed. They believe that the brick shrine was destroyed either by a cyclone or a tsunami which took place 2,200 years ago.
INSCRIPTIONS NEAR THE SUBRAHMANYA TEMPLE
- Kirarpiriyan of Mamallapuram made grants of ten ‘kazhanjus‘ (small sized gold balls)
- Vasanthanar, a Brahmin woman offered a grant of 16 kazhanjus.
- Third pillar inscription is about the grant made by Raja Raja Chola I (985 – 1014 CE.)
- Fourth pillar inscriptions which can be dated back to 813 CE are about Pallava king Dantivarman (795 to 846 CE.)
- Fifth pillar inscriptions which can be dated back to 858 CE are about Pallava king Nandivarman III (846 to 869 CE.)
- Sixth pillar inscriptions are about Pallava king Kambavarman (9th century CE)
- Seventh pillar inscriptions which can be dated back to 976 CE are about Krishna III (939-68 CE), Rashtrakuta king
- Pallava king Kambavarman (9th century CE) is on Eighth pillar inscriptions
- Krishna III (939-68 CE) Rashtrakuta king is on Ninthpillar which can be dated back to 971 CE. in his 21st regnal year
- Rajendra III Chola (1216 – 1256 CE) is mentioned on Tenth pillar inscriptions
- Kulothunga Chola III (1178 – 1218 CE.) on a pillar which can be dated back to 1215 CE.
ARTIFACTS NEAR SUBRAMANYAM TEMPLE
- A terracotta Nandi
- head of a woman
- terracotta lamps
- potsherds and
- a Shivalinga (anionic symbol of Shiva) made of green stone
While the above listed artifacts belong to the Sangam era, a copper coin was also excavated belonging to the Cholas.