1000 pillar halls of Madurai, Srirangam (TN) and Hanamkonda (AP) Hindu temples and destruction by Ulugh Khan of Delhi Sultanate?

 Pillared halls or mandapams  are part of the Hindu temple architecture and are  more poplar and visible in south Indian states than in the northern states. Some experts argue the concept of 1000 pillar hall has links with  decimal numbers such as 1000,etc  as such multiples are mentioned in the Vedic scriptures. I don' t want to dwell in to this controversial subject. Notwithstanding the roots of their origin or architectural  evolution of huge halls, the big halls of Srirangam, Madurai, Thiruvannamalai, Rameswaram corridors highlight the heyday of  architectural finesse in temple designs mostly using hard stones, The carved  and ornate pillars with life size images of humans or animals bear testimony to the grandeur and glory of large Hindu temples that are part of ethos and culture of this country. Such amazing halls represent the sermons in stone, an epitome of  artistry and workmanship.

Meenakshi temple in Madurai,  Ramanatha swamy temple in Rameswaram,  Ranganathar temple, Srirangam, Nellaiappar (Shiva) Tirunelveli, Arunachaleswar (Shiva) of  Tiruvannamalai, Sri Natarajar temple  Chidambaram and several other temples of Nayak period have got huge stone halls called 1000 pillar Mandapas.  Of all them the Thousand pillared hall temple in Hanamakonda Warangal now part of Telangana  built in 1163 during Chalukya period,  is a good example of ingenious temple design and the credit goes to the  Kakatiya artisans who were  master stone sculptors. All these Hindu temples  highlight cultural richness, artistic mastery in stone carving and design style that have blended to create a priceless tapestry. Unfortunately The Delhi sultanate army of Alauddin Khilji during their war expedition to southern India in early 1300s initially led by Malik Kaufer and later by Ulugh Khan in 1323 ransacked the remarkable temples beginning with Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple, in Hanamkonda, Telangana followed by Srirangam Ranganathar temple. Earlier Malik Kaufer raided Madurai temple and caused much damages. In the late years, the damaged temples were rebuilt by the rulers of Vijayanagara and the Nayak rulers of Tanjore and Madurai, 

One thousand pillar mandap/hall in Meenakshi temple:

Madurai Meenakshi temple is the most popular one in this part of Tamil Nadu and has close links with Tamil Culture. An epitome of architectural finesse, the complex covers an area of 180,000 sq. meter. The temple attracts thousands of visitors a day. There are whooping  33,000 statues on the towers and inside this temple.

Madurai Meenakshi temple 1000 pillar hall, twitter.com
Meenakshi temple mandapam contains only 985 delicately carved pillars  said to have been constructed by Kulasekara Pandyan. The temple was almost razed to the ground  in 1310 during war campaign  by the Delhi Sultanate army headed by Malk Kaufer, an eunuch and slave of Sultan Alauddin Khilji.  The ruthless army of the Tughlaq dynasty of Turkic origin destroyed  much of the Thousand pillar hall and temple and left behind it  in a dilapidated state.

1000 pillar hall Meenakshi temple, Madurai, TN.
The celebrated thousand pillar mandap/hall in Meenakshi temple, Madurai has 985 pillars now. It was erected in 1569 by Aryanatha Mudaliar, whose equestrian statue is at the entrance.  He was the minister for 71 years under four Nayak kings. Probably he was the minister who served the longest period in Indian history or world history. He served them between 1529 and 1600 CE. The dimension of the hall is  76.2 metres by 73 metres. There is a central shrine for lord Shiva in his dancing form. Every ornate pillar has an amazing sculpture hewn to the  pillar. On ceiling near the entrance there is a wheel which gives the cycle of sixty years of the Tamil calendar. Unlike many mandaps the Madurai hal is well-known for

 Kuravan-Kurathi statue (nomads/gypsies) with a basket on Kurathi’s shoulders.  She has a child on her back , one inside the basket and a third clinging on to her breasts.   Kuravan has lots of  jewels according to the custom of his clan.  The stonework and the artistry in this theme  is just amazing and is difficult to be replicated.

Some  pillars carry  episodes from the Puranas - Nicely carved on the pillar are images of the King Harichandra and queen Chandramathi,  Rati-Manmatha, Kannappa and Pandava brothers.A striking feature is the inclusion of 22 musical  pillars in a corner which produce different musical notes when struck with a piece of stone or metal.

Historian Ferguson in his “Indian and Eastern Architecture” says, “it is not the number of pillars but their marvellous elaboration that makes this hall the wonder of the place”. The hall is in the  Sundareswarar shrine , north of  flagstaff (Dwajasthambam).

The hall of 1000 pillars, Srirangam Sri Ranganathar temple,TN: 

Srirangam 1000 pillar hall, TN.alamy.com

Srirangam Sri Ranganathar temple,1000 pillar mandap in.pinterest.com

Above image:  Srirangam Sri Ranganathar temple,TN The 1000 pillar mandap actually has 953 large ornate pillars made of granite related rocks. The hall of 1000 pillars is often  called  aayiram kall mandapam. On the auspicious day of Vaikunta ekadasi. Lord Ranganatha swamy (urchavar)is brought to this hall to give  darshan and bless  the devotees ....................... 

Srirangam 1000 pillar hall, TN.heritageindiaonline.blogspot.com

Srirangam Sri Ranganathar temple (dedicated to God Vishnu) , a foremost Divyadesam shrine and the largest functional temple in the world the most popular pilgrimage center in south India. one of the most frequently visited pilgrimage centres in southern India. The temple has  seven rectangular corridors, one within the other, the outermost having a perimeter more than 2 miles (3 km) in length.  The 1000 pillar mandap is an amazing architectural accomplishment  and several parts of the temple and the 1,000-pillared hall were constructed in the Vijayanagar period (1336–1565) on the site of an older temple. The pillars are monolithic. 

Earlier in 1323 the Islamic forces from The Delhi Sultanate under Alauddin Khalji led by his military Commanders Ulagh Khan ( (Alauddin's brother, not Muhamed-bin-Thuklug) and his powerful army raided many parts of South India  and in 1323 AD attacked the famous Sri Ranganathar temple. He  plundered the Perumal temple and its treasures. In the  process the demonical army beheaded  12000 Sri Vaishnavas assembled at the temple to save the idols. The Kovil Olugu refers to this incident as “Pannirayiramtirumudi-tiruttina-kalabham” (the invasion which took 12000 heads)

It was the Vijayanagara rulers under Krishna Devaraya had the 1000 pillar hall built and at that point of time the temple was in a dilapidated state with no pujas to the main deity,

Thousand pillar mandap in Srirangam is larger than Madurai mandap. Measuring 152 metres by 48.8 metres, and having  953 granite pillars., the hall at Srirangam  is larger than that of Madurai 1000 pillar hall and the sculptures on the pillars are awe-inspiring. A remarkable feature of the Hall is the  colonnade of rearing horses. The UNESCO noted, ''The great hall is traversed by one wide aisle in the centre for the whole of its greater length, and intersected by transepts of like dimension running across at right angles. There still remain seven side aisles on each side, in which all the pillars are equally spaced out'

Alauddin Khilji Delhi Sultanateinsightsonindia.com

Alauddin Khilji south war expedition. nsightsonindia.com

1000  pillared hall  of  Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple in Hanamakonda, Telangana :

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in South India have many temples with ‘1000 pillared’ halls. They are older than the Nayak halls of Tamil Nadu. Thousand pillared hall temple in Hanamakonda /Warangal was built during Chalukya period. The Kakatiya sculptors built it in 1163 under Rudhra Deva’s rule. During Muslim invasion from the Delhi Sultanate  some of the structures were damaged.The 1000-pillar temple, also known as Rudrappa temple, was  invaded by the army of the Delhi Sultanate ruled by Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq of Turkish origin. In 1323, he despatched a powerful army  led by his son Ulugh Khan (later Muhammad bin Tughluq) to the Kakatiya capital Warangal, because the Kakatiya ruler Prataparudra refused to make tribute payments. First raid having been failed within four months he raided Warangal and other areas.

Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple Telangana . sanskritimagazine.com
The vicious army  ransacked the temples and disfigured the god's idols in Hanamkonda, including  the Nandi made of  monolithic dolerite (fine medium-grained, dark gray to black of intrusive igneous rock)  near the entrance whose leg was broken. The two sanctums  are bare with the deities of Surya and Vasudeva missing and only Shiva is regularly worshipped. In the long siege during that period at last ruler Prataparudra was defeated and taken captive, resulting in the end of the Kakatiya dynasty