Continuing with Kudumiyanmalai. So, this one is a huuuuuge complex, which was begun in 1st C AD.
The cave temple in here belongs to the late Pandya Era of the 8th & 9th C. The cave temple has a Shiva Linga made of live rock. The Lord Shiva here is called Shika Natha, indicating a bun / bulge atop the lingam.
The pillars in front of it are more of the Chalukya styled. This temple has heck a lot of inscriptions. 120 to be precise - that's the maximum in this locality.
Well, but just on entering is the Ayirakkal mandapam. On either sides are 500 pillars. The styling of these pillars is very Vijayanagara styled.
The pillars in the central region of Ayirakkal mandapam and Anivettikkal mandapam, are huge and has some exquisite relief sculptures of soldiers of horses, Hanuman, Parrots, 10 sculptures of Dasavathara of Vishnu. As we enter are the Dwarapala (Door-Keeper) on either sides.
On the left is almost a 300 year old wooden sculpture of Ravana.
The Amman here is called Akhilandeshwari. This was built on later era and hence made completely as a brick structure. Right atop, on the ceiling is a grid containing the Rashi-s (Zodiac signs), and theirs angels too, all painted!!!
Remember the erased musical inscriptions of Thirumayam and the 'Parivadhinitha' and its possible explanations??? Here is a better version and un-erased musical inscriptions! This time it pretty well guarded. No, not the human security guards. Its the security guards assigned by nature itself!
Huge, strong, bees! Honey bees to be precise!! Thousands of them to be very precise!!!!! We could venture no where near it. But from a distance we did see it. These were inscribed by Rudhracharya's student. These inscriptions not just talk about sa, re, ga, ma pa, da, ni (that's do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti in western music!), but also 4 variations for each that sa, si, se, su, ra, ri, re, ru etc... making it 28 sounds. Plus it also talks about ka, ki, ke, a, i, e, totally the number of musical notes to, not the usually known 7, but to a mind boggling 34!!! These notes are written as notations on huge rocky hillock plank of about 12ft x 13ft in 38 lines with 7 sections each. This is however undeciphered yet! The language is Grantha (remember the grantha of the Lalithankura Pallava Graham in Trichy?) Why this inscription on a huge rock side of a hillock? No idea! But, this place might have been a music centre or college in the 8th C!!!!
Where is Parivadhinitha? Its there. A structural temple had been built in the later stages possibly by Chola in 9th - 10th C. That structural temple literally chops off a small portion of the musical inscriptions, which is now inside the temple. That is where the Parivadhinitha is!!!
Totally outside, atop a hillock at a crevice, I could aptly term it as a dangerous crevice, where a relief of Shiva and Parvathi on Rishaba Vahana surrounded by 63 Nayanmars (Saivaite saints). I was actually confused to understand how they would have actually sculpted it at that height!!! Well, that is why Indian Heritage of Art totally blows off my mind!!!
Opp to the temple complex, on a small walk, is the temple tank. There is a specialty here too. From this pond small streams are let out to the nearby agricultural lands. At the beginning of one of these streams, is this sculpture of a cow with a huge hole below its udder. So it looks as if the whole feed of the pond is through the cow's udder!!! I was amazed when Prof. Muthazhagan explained this!!!
Will come back soon with more on Pudukottai...
From Chennai: 400 km via Villupuram, Trichy
Trains to Rameshwaram go via Pudukottai.
Trains / Buses can be taken to Trichy and regular buses are available from Trichy.
From Trichy: 50 km. Regular buses are available.
From Madurai: 115 km via Tirupatthur
From Coimbatore: 300 km via Dharapuram, Dindigul
Kudumiyanmalai is 20km from Pudukottai on the Pudukottai - Manapparai Road.
Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan, Prof. Muthazhagan, Prof. Jambunathan, and the whole group...