Many thanks to Sri Dhivakar for visiting this amazing cave and sharing his experiences and photographs with us. We need to do some more study of the sculptures and would be grateful if readers near Vijaywada can assist in some closeup, high resolution images of the same. Now over to the author for a wonderful guest post:

Its hard to separate Vijayawada from Kanaka Durga, even in our dreams, but today we are not going to see the famous Kanakadurga seated on the sacred abode of Indrakilaadhri, but a 1400 year old sculpted stone Durga and the rock cut caves of Mogalrajapuram (situated in the center of the city only). Some scholars account this to early 5th Century which is quite mind blowing.

In the midst of the sprawling town of Vijayawada, there are two caves which have barely survived, carved into a low hillock not higher than 10 feet. These caves which are under the upkeep of ASI, hold these surprising treasures.

the cave
the cave entrance

The sculptors have cut into live rock and created a small room to host the main sculpture. The sculpture is much worn out and we have hardly make out the features. We can clearly make out a tail and an animal - a lion behind the sculpture.

durga or kotravai
closeup of the sculpture

As per the ASI board this is Durga.

asi board

Can a mere lion mount characterise a sculpture as Durga, the posture and the body proportions create enough doubts in our minds.

durga outline

Taking the ASI stand that this is indeed Durga, this could be earliest depiction of Her in South India. Dr Kalaikkovan in his lovely work ` Mahendra Kudavaraigal’ lists the vallam ( near chengalpattu) Kotravai sculpted by Gommai as the oldest depiction of Her in South India. The above could make a strong contention to that stand.

The next hillock have some interesting sculptures and designs. The pillar designs are very familiar and the kudus on top contain some very advanced sculptures apparently of the Trinity.

is this natraja or durgai
the cave entrance
the pillar design
the row of elephants and lions
the three kudus

There is a wonderful row of alternating lions and elephants above them and then there is a very badly worn sculpture right on top of this row. You can see the Demon being pressed down by a foot and then only the top portion with only 6 hands wielding various weapons n attributes. The posture and the silhouette of the weapons seem to suggest that this could be a depiction of Mahishasuramardhini but the popular contention is that this is Nataraja. Will present the early chalukya sculptures of Aihole, Badami - natraja ( is he depicted with the asura underneath Shiva as Nataraja) and Mahishasuramardhini ( with Mahisha being trampled ..) later on.

We might need some very detailed closeups of the weapons held in the hands to come to a clear verdict. But the technique is quite advanced and these could be dated to late 6th or 7th Centuries. Compare the kudus with those of Mahendra’s Dhalavanur.

another koodu
the external makara thorana and koodu

Sadly these unique caves have not quite got the publicity they deserve and hardly anyone visits them. When will people realise the greatness of these treasures and give them the respect that is due to them.

Leave a comment »

Category: Sculpture

Tags:  , , , ,

Related Posts:

Read this in தமிழ்தமிழ்

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 9:44 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Comments so far


அருமை நண்பரே, தாங்கள் ஏற்கனவே பதிவு செய்த உண்டவல்லி குகை மற்றும் இந்த குடைவரைகள் யாவும் பல்லவர்களுக்கு முற்பட்டதல்லவா? அல்லது பல்லவர்கள்தான் அங்கு சென்று இதனை உருவாக்கினரா?
1400 ஆண்டுகள் கடந்த இந்தக் குடைவரைகளை உலகின் பார்வைக்கு கொண்டு வந்த திவாகர் அவர்களுக்கும் தங்களுக்கும் நன்றி.

June 10th, 2009 at 10:04

திரு திவாகர் அவர்களுக்கும் ,திரு விஜய் அவர்களுக்கும் மிக்க நன்றி
செய்திகளுக்கும் அபூர்வ சிற்பங்களின்,குடவரைக் கோயில்களின் புகைப்படங்களுக்கும்



June 10th, 2009 at 11:00

I did not know this place existed near Vijayawada. Good work!

June 10th, 2009 at 11:07

நடராஜரா துர்கையா ?

இடைப்பகுதி சிதைந்துள்ளதால் நன்கு புலனாகவில்லை;
அசுரனின் மீது பதிந்துள்ள கால், பாம்புகள்
இவற்றைக் காணும்போது ஆடவல்லானின் சிற்பம் என்றே தோன்றுகிறது.


June 10th, 2009 at 13:24
Srinivasan N.

Dear VJ,

The second last of the accompanying pictures (titled ‘Another Koodu’) is so strikingly similar to an absolutely similar sculpture that you have pictured at Shatrumalleswaralayam, is it not? Surely this too indicates Mahendra’s creations and also the extant and origin of the Pallavas (as subordinates or feudatories of the Satavahanas after the rule of Asoka) in the Andhra country… Any comments? I know, though that ‘that’ is a separate topic.

July 2nd, 2009 at 13:39

Leave a Reply

Name (required)(*)
Mail (will not be published)(*)