Recently I ventured to Tirunelveli, fondly called Nellai. Of course the specific places I visited were mostly the roads less traveled. This is gonna be a series, and here it begins with Veerasigamani, a cave temple.
Its a tiny little cave temple, similar to Mandagapattu. There are 2 pillars in the front and 2 pillars along with the walls on either sides. Right at the centre is the monolithic Sivalingam and a Nandi in front of it. The Sivalingam has a square base.
On its door, on either sides, there's the relief on the wall of 2 dwarapalas. Further on the side walls are 2 disfigured men. On the right, after dwarapala is another man.
The dwarapalas were similar to Mandagattu, not having protruding incisors, with just 2 hands, with a hint of smile. One of these guys has mustache and a clubbells.
Of the 2 disfigured men, 1 just has a bearded face, and the whole body is disfigured. The other guy has even the face disfigured, by the whole body outline is obvious. The 5th person is next to the right dwarapala.
Between the pillars are fluted cornices to attach to the ceiling and some circular medallion reliefs on pillars. On one of the pillars is the Chola Pandya inscriptions on 7th C CE. Who are these Chola Pandyas??? I'll tell you about them in the upcoming posts.
On the outer walls, out of the excavated cave, on either sides are small excavated shrines. On the left is a Lord Vinayaka and on the right is Lord Vishnu.
Quite unusually, here the Vishnu has 3 hands!!! There seems to be no mutilation, infact no space for the 4th hand at all.
Just like Dalavanur, here too, a climb upon the boulders atop the hill from behind the cave temple, leads to the Jain Beds above!!! The view from atop, as always is mind blowing. Down below was a Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest.
There were about 8-9 Jain beds with inscription on one of them. I was told that there's another set with a Vishnu Padam (later addition) on the other side of hill which sadly I couldn't access...
Coming up with more places, esp. more caves soon. Wait n watch!!!
TO GET THERE:
64 km from Tirunelveli Railway Station
30 km from Tenkasi
Tirunelveli has hotels in all price points.
You could also consider staying at Coutrallam.
Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Gang