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It was late afternoon when we reached the Rockfort and hurried up the first tier of stairs. Being Aiyappan season, there were a swarm of hands and legs - draped in various shades of black. Being forced to buy tickets for our cameras by the devasthanam guard even though we explained to him that we were here to just visit the two ASI sites ( which by the way do not levy any fee or need any prior written permission for shooting with a still camera - you cant use a tripod though !!!). As we reached the first level and the tar road, we turned left - the auto guy gave us that typical ` look’ ( must have thought we were looking for a spot to relieve ourselves) and pointed to his ‘ correct ‘ direction - uphill. We tried to explain to him saying we were going to the cave and the look turned even more weird -” There is nothing there, don’t waste your time” for good measure. By the time, we spotted the high camouflaged ASI direction sign - so typical of them to have it painted on the side from which you are walking up ( meaning as you emerge from the gate, the sign is already at your back - someone needs to tell these geniuses that our eyes are in front and hence they should have the sign in the wall side facing the entering visitor). Anyway, the sign screamed that it was a Pallava cave !! adding to the confusion and our disgust. Experts have long been at loggerheads to the authorship of this rock cut cave as well.

Finally, after a 100 meter walk, we managed to find a small walking path inbetween the rows of small houses that led towards the parent rock. And there she stood in all her majesty - cut deep into mother rock, the bare rock face accentuating her asymmetry right at the bottom.

carved+into+hillface
massive+rockface

But, then lets frame the cave facade to see the symmetry.

front+facade

When I said carved deep, take into account that even the row of pillars are cut inside the face.

idea+of+depth+from+other+angle
to+give+you+an+idea+of+depth

Compared to the mad rush at the entrance, there was not a single tourist or visitor around. A few kids were playing cricket - the stumps being the sculpture’s leg and a couple of ASI staff.
A cursory glance at the pillar itself got us going. This is not a standard Pallava pillar, doesn’t even come close. And here we have the mandatory ASI board proclaiming it to be Mamalla style and period 640 to 670 AD.

asi+board+claiming+build+by+mamalla+pallava
pillar+style

The rectangular cave has two sanctums, cut into separate ardha mandabams ( mini halls) at its two extremities - one for Shiva and one for Vishnu. What’s unique about this cave,is that its got two sets of door guardians for the mandabam and two sets for the Sanctum as well - first time we see 8 door guardians in a cave ( we will examine these door guardians and other sculptures in part 2 of this post)

beautiful+left+shrine
beautiful+right+shrine

The facing wall too has lent its length to the sculptor - in fashioning a Ganesha ( well well, yes - Mamalla and Ganesha ), Brahma, Muruga, Surya and Durga.

relief+sculptures
row+of+relief+sculptures
the+reliefsculptures+on+facing+wall

We shall study all these at depth in the coming posts. An ASI artist was meticulously copying the images - to our delight.

asi+artist+sketching

Really sad, that this imposing edifice suffers the ignominy of being “not worth seeing” !!

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010 at 14:24 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.

12 Comments so far

annapoorna
  1  

When something is always available for us we ll not know the value of it…. Thanks for the post.. Love to read more on this…

April 29th, 2010 at 14:52
சச்சிதானந்தன்
  2  

பல்லவர் காலம் இல்லையெனில் எநதக் காலம்? மகேந்திரவர்மன் சைவனானபின் எழுதிய கல்வெட்டு, தாய்ச் சமயத்துக்கு வந்ததான குறிப்பு, இந்தப் பக்கத்திலேதானே? என் அறியாமையைப் பொருட்டற்க.

April 29th, 2010 at 15:59
  3  

sir, That inscription is in the upper cave which we saw earlier

http://www.poetryinstone.in/lang/en/2010/03/18/pallava-cave-temple-at-thiruchirappalli-rockfort-lalitankura-pallavesvara-griham.html

https://www.tamilvu.org/courses/diploma/a061/a0612/html/a06123l1.htm

பாண்டியர்களின் குடைவரைகளில் பல்லவர்கள் படைத்தது
போன்ற புராணக்கதை உணர்த்தும் சிற்பத் தொகுதிகள்
இடம்பெறவில்லை. தனித்தனிச் சிற்பங்களே பெரும்பாலும்
இடம்பெற்றுள்ளன. ஐந்து கடவுள் வணக்கமான “பஞ்சாயதனம்”
எனும் அமைப்பில் சிற்பங்கள் அமைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. இதில்
சிவன், திருமால், கணபதி, முருகன், துர்க்கை ஆகிய
இறையுருவங்கள் இடம்பெற்றுள்ளன. ஆறு கடவுள்
வணக்கமான “சண்மதம்” என்னும் மரபும் பின்பற்றப்பட்டு
இறையுருவங்கள் படைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. இம்மரபில் சிவன்,
திருமால், கணபதி, முருகன், துர்க்கை அல்லது சூரியன், பிரம்மா
ஆகிய உருவங்கள் அமைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன. சில குடைவரைகளில்
இவ்விரு மரபும் இணைந்த நிலையில் இறையுருவங்கள்
அமைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.

April 29th, 2010 at 16:02
Kathie B.
  4  

Yeah, nothing there to see, was there? I almost couldn’t find either cave the 1st time I was there in ‘95. People wouldn’t help, or didn’t know.
Of course it’s the upper one that blows you away!

April 30th, 2010 at 5:36
Parvadha Vardhini
  5  

அருமையான பதிவு. அடுத்த முறை நான் மலைக்கோட்டை செல்லும் போது நிச்சயம் இந்தக் குடவரையைக் காண விரும்புகிறேன். மிகவும் நன்றி.

April 30th, 2010 at 17:42
Kathie B.
  6  

Dear VJ, This is a lot to ask but could you add
my Picasa albums as a link to this site? I have photos of most murthis except the ganas & step animals, in both caves.
- injamaven

April 30th, 2010 at 21:01
  7  

sure, kathie. adding yours and arvind’s as well

May 3rd, 2010 at 6:45
  8  

great post as usual!

May 3rd, 2010 at 16:21
saarrankan
  9  

You do good job. Actually, we tamil become lower level in the world because of our lack of interest to aware about our treasures how we were in the past. I am very much happy that you recover several imprtant places in India. I appreciate your research activities should extend to other countries where Chola ruled such as Sri Lanka, kadaram etc.

May 5th, 2010 at 9:53
  10  

thanks saarrankan… indonesia and cambodia are covered as well - you can use the relevant tags or search within the site. Srilanka is on the anvil..

rgds
vj

May 5th, 2010 at 12:15
  11  

Yes! that’s what people say! CASTING PEARLS BEFORE SWINE! this is the proverb that comes to my mind when somebody is very ignorant about our own monuments!

May 18th, 2010 at 11:09
kirthika
  12  

thanks a lot ……….enaku ippadi oru azhagana idathathi arimugam seythu vathatharku……

June 18th, 2011 at 7:06

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