After Virasigamani our next stop was Thirumalapuram aka Varunachi Malai. It was in a very perfect setting. A big, absolutely slopey, smooth hill with a little cave temple on one of its facets! With a few plam trees in front, the view was magnificent.
This is in a bit better condition than Virasigamani. There are 2 pillars and 2 pillars attached to the walls. This was excavated by Pandyan Kings in 750 CE.
The medallions here are many more than Virasigamani and the fluted cornices look more beautiful.
Similar to the Lower Cave of Trichy, here too there are 3 sections with 3 relief sculptures. The first one is a beautiful dancing Siva with a bhootha gana and rishabam on either sides!!!
Second a standing Lord Vishnu with 4 hands and 2 seated bhootha ganas on either sides. At last is a seated Lord Ganesha.
On one side is the sanctum sanctorum with a Siva Lingam. On either sides of the entrance of sanctum sanctorum are dwarapalas.
On the opposite wall in another relief sculpture of Brahma with 4 hands and 3 visible heads.
On the centre of the whole hall, facing the Siva Linga is a monolith Nandi. Its completely broken and all that's left are a couple of legs!!!
All the sculptures in this cave were painted and even the ceiling was painted like Sittannavasal. All we see today is a hint of a few strokes and small painted patches.
Quite weirdly at the corners were these patterns. Fish shaped on one corner, leaf shaped on one corner, white in 2 corners, black in 2 corners, all embossed... Are they fossils, or painted, is it natural or man-made or what are they??? I have no clue!
Atop the hill was a modern church. I dunno how was it constructed in this ASI preserved hill!
TO GET THERE:
Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & gang.