many medieval temple inscriptions—in Punjab, in Jat territories in the
western Ganga plains, and in most mountainous regions—we can deduce that
brahmin influence was small and cultures less Hinduised.
Emergence of Temples as Effective Sites for Social Ranking The more
popular a temple became (i.e., the more praised in song and more attractive
for pilgrims), the greater became the value of its patronage and the number of
people whose identity was attached to it. Rising bhakti devotionalism
enhanced the value of pilgrimage, as it increased temple donations and
investments. Donations became increasingly popular as a means and
indicator of social mobility as temples became commercial centres,
landowners, employers and manufacturing centres. Increasing participation in
temple rituals made them more effective sites for social ranking, as temple
honours were distributed according to rank and all worshippers were
positioned in ranked proximity to the deity.
Socio-economic Importance
Management of Local Distribution Process The temple assumed the
character of a ‘super-ordinate’ instrument of integration from the ninth
century AD. Under the middle Cholas (985–1118 AD), its role increasingly
expanded in the forging of institutional links for territorial sovereignty,
particularly through the ‘imperial’ temples like those at Tanjavur and
Gangaikondacholapuram. The temple gradually assumed the responsibility of
management of the local distribution process. Supervisory functions were
frequently transferred from local assemblies to temples, especially due to
huge temple endowments. In most cases, the temples located in brahmadeyas
and taniyurs were still managed by brahmin assemblies (sabha) and their
committees. Temple administration was also shared by the dominant velala
landed groups in the urs.
Foothold for Royal Intervention in Local Affairs However, the ties that
may have existed between the local temple and local elite were severed by
the expanding economy of the temple and management of resources across
nadu limits and by the centralisation measures of the kings through
supervision of temple affairs by royal officials (muvendavelar, koyirramar),
‘auditing’ or enquiring into temple    endowments, scale of temple expenses