With the familiar brand of Indian politics being played out regularly, its time to hit the rewind button and head towards one of Chennai’s best kept secrets, on a journey to find out, the sanctity that is accorded to the ruling of King. To start with, the very mention of Thirukalukundram would cause many of our local readers to frown, for reasons already mentioned in the previous post.. But, please read on, as there is a much more important and beautiful rock cut cave excavated just below Vedagireerswara shrine on top of the hill which we saw earlier. We are going to see the best kept secret of the town.

Half way up when those extra helpings of Deepavali sweets begin to give their attendance and you rest, you are met with a steep flight of stairs. This is the new route, there exists an older route which goes around hill. Take it and you will come to the Oru Kal Mandapam.


Though being under ASI care, there is no one around and is locked ( do not know if i have to thank them or curse them for that)

The cave is stylistically dated to just after Mahendra Pallava’s period - post 630 CE. The first indications are the relatively smaller size of the pillars. The general layout of the cave is as below


We begin with the main Shiva Linga, an imposing edifice in the main sanctum ( note there is no somaskanda relief carved in the back of the Sanctum)

linga+central shrine

The Sanctum is flanked by our usual door guardians in slightly lower relief than normal


What is interesting is the placement of Brahma ( four faced - 3 showing- with a very unique headdress) and Vishnu with their attributes, on the two sides of the main sanctum in the Ardha mandaba ( inside hall) This is a new feature not found in caves of Mahendra Pallava.


Apart from these, there are two more figures carved in the mukha mandapa ( front hall)

celestial+right+closeup (5)

Now, we come to the operative part - the inscription ( Epigraphica Indica Vol 3 )
page 363.

(Line 1.) Hail! Prosperity! In the twenty-seventh year (of the reign) of King Rajakesarivarman ( Aditya Chola - 870 - 907 CE)
(L. 2.)Whereas Skandasishya had given (certain land) free from taxes to the feet of the God of the holy Mulasthana (temple) at Thirukalundram in Kalattur-kottam (and) in the subdivision called after itself, (and) as, accordingly, Narasingapottaraiyar ( Narasimha Pallava),the conqueror of Vatapi, had confirmed (the grant) in the same manner - I, Rajakesarivaraman, at the request of Puttan, the son of Gunavan of Andurai, have maintained ( the grant ) as the former Kings had maintained it. The feet of one who protects this charity, shall be on my head .

The greatness of one King to not only honor a previous King, that too of a different clan, but to state that he did so as the former King had done to another person - is indeed a lesson in ethics for today’s rulers. Not only that he addresses his predecessor ( of 267 years) with his title as the one who conquered Vatapi. True greatness or truly great.

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Category: Sculpture

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13 Comments so far


Definitely this to be shown to the today’s rulers (Enna arputhamana kalvettu!)

November 11th, 2011 at 14:20

No stealing of rare photos, but no looking carefully [or lightening] either.
I have a few of my own, luckily but not as complete as this set. Why the new image blocking?

November 11th, 2011 at 18:13

hi kathie, Not sure what you mean - image blocking??


November 11th, 2011 at 18:24

now it’s working fine. Before, the bottom 1/2 of ea photo was grey, the way they do when they don’t want photo stolen. Who knows? Delete my comment.

November 11th, 2011 at 19:22

the cage shots and bottom six are still blocked, try them and see?

November 11th, 2011 at 19:26

Wonderful piece of information. Reading such articles makes me jealous of the people who lived during the reign of such great rulers.
And yes, not able to view any image since yesterday.

November 11th, 2011 at 19:46

hi lakshmi, we had some issues with the hosting server and they are slowly getting it up and running to speed. hopefully resolved completely by next week

November 11th, 2011 at 19:51

கல்வெட்டுகளும் அதன் பொருள் அறிதலும் மிகவும் சுவாரசியமான ஒன்று. அதற்கு நீங்கள் மேற்கொள்ளும் பயணங்கள் பாராட்டத்தக்கது. நல்ல கட்டுரை.

November 18th, 2011 at 23:30

nandri Pinnokki

November 29th, 2011 at 15:32

Dear VJ,

The same kind of rock cut temple found in Vallam near chengalpattu built by Mahendravarman-I you can see fantastic sculptures and more over one of the rare rock cut temples of pallavas where tamil inscriptions where found it says the title of mahendravarman like lalithanguran,bagabidu etc.,Hope you will go to this temple.Its on the Tirukalukundram main road it comes in the left hand side.

December 26th, 2011 at 14:10

கல்வெட்டுகளும் அதன் பொருள் அறிதலும் மிகவும் சுவாரசியமான ஒன்று. அதற்கு நீங்கள் மேற்கொள்ளும் பயணங்கள் பாராட்டத்தக்கது. இதுபோன்ற கட்டுரைகளை புதிய செய்திகளை எனது மின்னஞ்சலுக்கு அவவப்போது அனுப்ப வழியுள்ளதா?

December 27th, 2011 at 11:50

dear Ragavendar,

Vallam covered here http://poetryinstone.in/lang/en/2009/08/12/the-mystery-behind-the-horns-of-pallava-door-guardians.html


January 5th, 2012 at 7:25

Dear Babu,

On the top of the home page, you see a yellow button ( right next to the find box and go button) - please click on that button and submit your email id to subscribe to updates


January 5th, 2012 at 7:30

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