(This extract is from a Tamil book written by Tamil Thatha, Dr. U. V. Saminathayyar
named, “Yen Charithiram”)
ஆங்கிலத்தில் - பொறியாளர். வ.ரபீந்திரன்; பி.ஏ; பி.இ (ஆனர்சு); ஐ.ஆர்.எஸ்.இ.
Ariyilur was also called as Ariyil, (Ari + Il), that is, the abode of God Hari.
The Zamindars who were ruling the town and nearby villages, called as Samasthanam,
were having a surname “Oppiladha Mazhavarayars”. Their family deity was “Oppiladhaval”,
that is, One without comparison. She is Goddess Durga. Mazhavarayar means Head of
warriors. Ariyilur was also called as “ Kundra Vazha Nadu”or shortly as “ Kundrai”.
During 1861, the Samasthanam was not exactly in flourishing condition and was slowly
deteriorating. Normally those who have nothing to show in terms of achievements,
dwell on past glory. The proverb, “Like a hungry man seeing the old accounts” (Pasithavan
Pazhaya Kanakkai Parpathu Pola) had come about to explain that only. The same applied
to Samasthanam as well.
During that time, the Zamindar was Krishnayya Oppiladha Mazhavarayar. He was a philanthropist.
He used to give away foodstuff to the poor people. He also entertained poets in
his court and gave away gifts. He considered it as his first duty to fulfill the
needs of the poor.
There was one poet at that time, by name, Andhaka Kavi Veera Raghava Mudaliar. He
was blind. When he came to Samasthanam, he had to wait for a long time to meet the
Zamindar to get his favour. He came to know that the Zamindar was otherwise busy
distributing paddy or rice to the poor by means of measures. He was surprised and
wondered whether the Zamindar would have distributed one lakh measures.
Immediately his imagination took wings and blossomed into a poem meaning like this:
Even God Vishnu in His Vamana Avatar measured only three steps (Padi). But this
benevolent Zamindar was giving away daily one lakh measures (Padi). Can even Thirumal
(Vishnu) be considered equal to this Zamindar?” ( Padi means a step and can also
mean a measure.)
In Ariyilur, even though the palace and fort are no longer there, the temple of
guardian deity for the fort, “Kottai Muni” still exists. Also the house of the chieftain
of the warriors is still there. It is called “Thazhakartha Pillai’s house”.
There are two tanks in Ariyilur, by name, “Chetti Kulam” and “Kurinjan Kulam”. On
the bank of Kurinjan Kulam, there is a Pillaiyar temple and is known as “Arasu Natta
Pillaiyar Koil”. The name came about because the Zamindar won a battle against his
enemies, after praying to this Pillaiyar deity and as a gesture of gratitude built
the temple. He also built a lake which is called “Arasu Nattan Eri”.
On the southern bank of Kurinjan Kulam, in a place called Meenakshi Mandapam, there
were Pillaiyar, Siva and Vishnu temples. The Vishnu temple is the biggest. The name
of the deity is Venkatesa Perumal. In the main mandapam, the ten avatharams of God
Vishnu are sculpted on the pillars and hence it is called “Dasavathara Mandapam”.
In the Siva temple, the deities are Alanthurai Eesan and Arundhava Nayaki. Apart
from these, the family deity of Oppiladhaval or Durga’s temple, Kaamakshiamman Koil.
Viswanathaswamy temple,Sanjeevirayan koil, Kaalinga Narthanaar Koil, Anumaar Koil
are also there. During my younger days, all these Koils were patronized by people.
In this town, among the Brahmins, there were three sects, namely Vaishnavas Smaarthas,
and Mathvaas. Kaar Kaatha Vellalars lived in large number. They were very pious
and always helpful to others. Temple Poojas were being done under the patronage
There were some gardens too in Ariyilur apart from lots of paddy fields. They were
a joy to watch and still I cherish those memories.