Our next stop was Malayadippatti. Just like Thirumayam, this too has a Vishnu Temple and Shiva Temple, few yards away from each other. The Shiva Temple was built by or rather, dug up by Kovan Saathan Mutharaiyan. Later on the Vishnu Temple was dug up. Right atop all these are a few Jain Beds! First we ventured to the Shiva Temple. It was a cave temple with a single East facing Shiva Lingam inside.
But what caught our attention was the stuff outside. Just outside, on either sides are Dwarapala (Door keepers) with Vismaya (Awe-struck) Mudhra, and one of them has horns. The outer pillars are of Vijayanagara Era. The inner pillars are of Chola Era and has an inscription of Aditya Chola I (9th C).
On the right wall was the panel of Saptha Madha (Brammani, Thripuranthaki, Suranutha, Indrani, Vaaraahi, Koumari, Sandikeshwari) with Valampuri (Trunk towards Right) Vinayaka to the right and Yoga Dakshinamurthy to the left.
Just opposite to sanctum sanctorum was this huge panel having 3 different scenes and 100 different opinions!!! First just let me tell you what was there. Starting from the left, first was a standing male with 2 devotees on either sides. Next was another standing male again with 2 devotees on either sides and Surya & Chandra flying on either sides. Next was a standing female, with a raging lion on one side and a bull / buffallo on the other side. The whole panel is highly eroded and all the details are all gone! That has paved way to heck a lot of opinions in the identification of the sculptures.
Now the opinions... The central scene is the one which has harmony in acceptance. That is Harihara - Half Vishnu & Half Shiva. There is a cresent on on side of the head gear suggesting that side as Shiva. On the other side, a hand holds a conch, suggesting that side as Vishnu. Apart from that, the drape is different on either sides - A short Kacha on Shiva's side and a long, elaborate garment (Antariya) on the Vishnu's side. On either sides are 2 devotees. However another opinion is that its Bhooma Devi on Vishnu's side (I tried to make out if she had bust, but I couldn't!), and Divakara Muni on Shiva's side. Surya & Chandra flying atop.
The left scene has 2 different opinions. One is that this must be Lord Brahma. Another opinion is that this must be Lord Muruga due to the presence of Uthara Patti (the belt below the bust).
The scene at the right, is of Durga, or to be specific Mahishasura Mardhini. That has no difference of opinion. But then, the composition has differences in opinion. The lion on the left is raging. Never has a raging lion been depicted without Mahishasura Mardhini atop. There is a man atop, but that's Chandra, and he is not sitting on the lion. But some say that the image of her sitting on lion is corroded. On the right is a bull i.e. Mahishasura himself. Again here on either sides, seated are 2 devotees.
Some have an opinion that it is actually 4 scenes, with 2 scenes in the last sections - Mahishasura Mardhini on lion and she herself standing after she cooled down and the devotee on left is Saint Athri asking her to cool down and the devotee on right is Mahishasura, after he surrendered.
I personally I feel its Mahishasura Mardhini in the centre, with a raging lion to the left w/o anyone on it and Mahishasura to the right. However it was a pretty unusual art styling at that point of time, to flow the design between scenes instead of bordering them!!! Well, all of us with our 100 opinions, and arguments, came out of the Shiva Temple and entered the Vishnu Temple.
The Perumal is called Kan Niraindha Perumal and in a sleeping posture of Anantha Sayanam. Like Thirumayam, here too the relief sculpture is a long one, but not as exquisite as Thirumayam. However the exquisiteness arrives when we add the sculptures in the side wall of Ardha Mandapam as well, totaling to 5 scenes. To the right are Narasimhar with Maha Lakshmi, and Vaikunda Perumal in a seated posture. To the left are Varahar who is now prayed as Hayagrivar and Perumal, the standing posture of Vishnu. So, this becomes one of the very few temples that has Nindra, Irundha, Kidandha (Standing, Sitting, Sleeping) postures of Vishnu in the same place. The central Anantha Sayana Panel has a 5 faced Adhiseshan, Naradha, Thumburu, Brahma, Madhu & Kaidabha, Jambavan, Ayudha Purusha, Celestial beings, etc.
The Dwarapala (Door Keepers) have lotus in their hand and are not very furious. There are also a few Simha Thoon (Pillars with Lion at the base).
All these sculptures here and the ceiling were all painted during the Nayak Era. If we look a bit deep into the paintings that itself is mind blowing! There were some spots where the plaster had come off. I took up the toe nail of the Varahar. The plaster had chipped off. I realized how thick the plaster was!!! It was atleast an inch thick, and was painted atop of it, but inspite of the 1inch plaster, the detailing on the granite sculpture was made with full detail!!!!!
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
Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan, Prof. Muthazhagan, Prof. Jambunathan, and the whole group...