Tiger Caves

Lot of locals miss an important site just off mahabalipuram…so spare the tourist…..its another great treat left behind by the illustrious Rajasimha Pallava…its just about a km before you enter mallai town to your left….you can see the ASI board…yes there are still excavations going on……..

The ASI board.jpg

seemingly simple…but deceptive..calmly nestled between gently swaying palm fronds and the beach sand….lulled by the sound of the waves….you are at saluvankuppam. There are 3 important sites for us to see here…We will visit all three in separate posts…

tiger cave1.jpg

The tiger caves is an impressive structure….from the back its a simple boulder..live rock…but that was not how the pallava sculptor visualised it…..walk around and you are stuck for words…a lovely grandstand…capped by 11 massive yaazhi’s ( yes the tiger or more closely lion is also a misnomer..if you watch carefully you will see the delightfully carved horns of these magnificent beasts)….

what beauty.jpg

To truely appreciate this you got to get an idea of the gross dimensions…ok, time for me to peep in…now the ugly looking person is me…all 100 kgs….now does that give you an indication of the massiveness of this entire composition…


The stage is slightly offcentre as you see two mounted elephants to one side…in straight profile. the stage iself is capped by a set of prancing lions … a rajasimha trade mark

the stage.jpg
tiger cave off centre.jpg

the identity of the riders is a not known as nature has taken its toll…you can vaguely make out just the outlines….yes we did manage to climb upto to the elephants and take a couple of shots of the rider housed inside the howdah…quite dangerous as there are no proper footholds….

elephant rider 2.jpg

ok, you are hiking up a 1300 year old pallava sculpture….where else in the world can you touch and feel such a artifact..the danger is multiplied by the fact that the audience section of the stage is set into the floor like a pond and collects rain water….so you are risking a bath in a muddled pool as well.

tiger cave off centre.jpg

what a magnificent spectacle…such massive work on hard granite…and 1300 years of wind, sea …man…yet these have retained their beauty…magnificent proportions..a living tribute to the mastery of the sculptor..

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Category: Sculpture

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