From the “Lost treasures of Chidambaram”
Possibly the most interesting photo from the collection is the one of the Mukkuruni Vinayaka temple in south-west corner of the fourth prakara. The photo presents us with a gem of Early Chola architecture with the West Gopuram or gateway of the Nataraja temple in the background. This shrine no longer exists in this form. Actually there are no structures in the temple today that can be dated with any certainty to before the 12th century. The photo and what it shows us represents an unexpected window on the past. The shrine is shown from the south-east. It displays features typical for the architecture of the Early Chola period, as well as several unique and unusual features.
At present the Mukkuruni Vinayaka shrine is a modern building constructed of polished granite. It can be dated with all probability to the late 19th century. This Vinayaka represents the Trimurti. Therefore this shrine has three stupi on the top of the shikharam or cupola. Mukkuruni means three (munru) times four measures (kuruni). On special occasions an offer consisting of three modaka made of four measures (kuruni) of rice are given as nivedya or food offer.
The Early Chola Mukkuruni Vinayaka temple consists of the shrine’s garbhagriha and ardhamandapam with three pavilions or shrines added at a later date.
The shrine can be identified as an Early Chola construction on the basis of the following characteristics.
(1) The ground-plan and lay-out.
(2) The profile of the kapota.
(3) The shape and decoration of the kudus.
(4) The shape of the podigai or corbel.
(5) The shape and decoration of the shikhara.
But it also confronts us with several unique features.
(1) A rectangular garbhagriha and shikhara rounded off at the corners and topped by three stupi.
(2) An ekatala building with several characteristics of a dvitala: a hara with shala and karnakutis.
(3) The ekatala and dvitala characteristics synthesized by integrating the griva niche into the hara.