An interesting cave temple from Vizhinjam – Trivandrum

I was discussing Pallava rock cut sculpture and showing ( off) my site to a few friends over the weekend, when a friend from Trivandrum commented he had seen similar in a cave in Vizhinjam near Trivandrum. This set me off to search for that cave, and surprisingly very few information is available.

While i did manage to locate the cave and its amazing sculptures, very little information is available on the same. Some sites mention of it as a 18th C creation, while to me the style resembles pallava sculpture more ( kathie please help). Guess, i need to go back to reading more about cave sculpture in south india and when the tradition stopped. I was of the opinion that is stopped with the structural temples gaining prominence closer to Rajasimha Pallava. Anyway stylistically this looks much much ancient that whats its credited with.

Some anomalies though, instead of the standard door guardians at the entrance we see sculptures of Shiva holding a bow ( surmise as Tripuranthaka ) and Shiva with Parvathi ( in a sad state). the main deity i head is that of Vinadhari Dhakshinmurthy, which however, is not carved out of the bed rock – but is a separate sculpture.

Please have a look at the sculptures below.

Chanced on this lovely video as well.

A lovely detailed video of the cave

Picture courtesy: Mr. Hari

11 thoughts on “An interesting cave temple from Vizhinjam – Trivandrum

  1. Vj, thanks for the photos and info. 18th century seems too late for such a stone work. Hope someone reading this would throw light on this.
    Thanks to your friend for the info.

  2. விஜய்,

    வரலாறு.காம்-ஐச் சேர்ந்த வரலாற்று அறிஞர்கள் திரு.கலைக்கோவன்,குடவாயில் திரு.பாலசுப்ரமணியம் மற்றும் பல வரலாற்று வல்லுனர்கள் இதைப் பற்றி நிச்சயம் அறிந்திருப்பார்கள். அவர்களைத் தொடர்பு கொள்வது இந்தப் புதிருக்கு விடை அளிக்கும்.

  3. You’re right, VJ I’m so happy to see this cave!
    One of Shiva’s earrings should be a makara.
    About the nearly identical crown, could the
    same shilpa guild have carved them both, though working for different dynasties?

  4. Quite possible Kathie. You see I have remarked to VJ (in the 2nd article on the subject) that the period of this sculpture has to be between 400-700 AD when the Pallavas reigned supreme in South India and founded the first large empire and were feuding with the Chalukyas also. At that time the Pallavas were lording over the Cholas and the Pandiyas but had very close ties with the Cheras who ruled over Karur-Kovai and over all of the Malainadu (modern Kerala). With such striking and stark resemblance between Mallai and Vizhinjam sculpture surely the common sculpting guild or at least the lead artisans were common to both the sites. In fact, when one analyzes the sculptures of the Hoysalas especially during the time of Veera Ballala II and his son Narasimha, both Chola and Pallava artisans are supposed to have made immense contributions to the temples at Halebid, Somnathpur and Belur, among others.

    When you consider that between Somnathpur (built around 1265 – when the Chola empire was collapsing) and Belur (built around 1120 – when Vishnuvardhana Hoysala became independent after defeating the Chalukyas in Kannada country)… the continuation of architectural traditions of at least the Pallavas for almost four centuries after their extinction around 910 AD, the mind really boggles.

  5. Hi Cheenu,

    Pallava extinction around 910 AD. Hmm, thats an interesting subject. The last in the line of the later pallavas!!

    But there is one interesting character ( my fav) – Kopperunchingan – the Kadava kon, his deeds – of war, temple endowment, volume of inscriptions etc. continue to amaze me. He too claimed Pallava descent


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *