Paintings at Sittannavasal (Pudukottai - Tamil Nadu)

...AND OTHER PLACES TO VISIT NEAR SITTANNAVASAL!

FRESCO PAINTINGS IN INDIA
I have a partiality towards Frescoes. Frescoes are wall painting, murals done in a particular technique. There are 2 types of frescoes - Fresco Secco (more common; painted when the plaster is dry) and Fresco Buono (not very common; painted when the plaster is wet). Here, in Sittannavasal, the technique used is Fresco Buono. A well-known example internationally is Da Vinci's Last Supper. Here in India, I'm dying to see Ajanta Frescoes. Hard luck on that yet, but as I walked towards Sittannavasal, considered the next best to Ajanta, I could feel my heart go 'Yippeee!!!'. 

SITTANNAVASAL TOURIST PLACES
There are 3 important places to visit in Sittannavasal. The Arivar Koil which is the face of Sittannavasal, and Ezhadipattam and Navachunai.


Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

ARIVAR KOIL
Arivar Koil is located atop the hill, it is, of course, a cave temple. Inside are 3 seated Tirthankaras in the sanctum sanctorum and in the Ardha mandapa are 2 people on either sides - a Tirthankara and a Aasiriyar (teacher) - all relief sculptures. It is not the sculptures that is celebrated here. Sittannavasal Caves are famous for the paintings, the frescoes, belonging to the 7th-9th C. A 17 line, 9th C inscription here says that the paintings were done by Ilan Gauthaman, a Jain Acharya, under the reign of Pandya King Sriraman Srivillabhan aka Avanipasekhara.

SITTANNAVASAL CAVES FAMOUS FOR...

DANCING WOMEN - PAINTINGS AT SITTANNAVASAL
As soon as we entered, on either side are 2 pillars with 2 dancing women on them. Today only till their torso is seen, rest are gone. On the right pillar is another important painting of a Pandya King with his wife, under whom this place was constructed. 

SAMAVASARANA - FLORAL CARPET - PAINTINGS AT SITTANNAVASAL
The cornice of the pillars and the space between them are very beautifully decorated with floral designs, swans, other patterns, lotuses at different stages of blooming etc.
In the Ardha mandapam atop the 2 relief sculptures are a floral carpet design. The whole centre portion is where my heart lies! I lied down on the floor to stare at this. I could just be there for atleast half a day, but time constraints... Ok, that's where the huge scene of Samavasarana is depicted. So, what's this Samavasarana? Its an important step in the sainthood of Jainism. There are 5 steps for a Jain to undergo before becoming a monk and in that the 4th step is First Sermon for which the would-be monks (bhavya) pass through a pond filled with all animals & birds & flowers called Ghatika Bhumi. That is what is depicted here. 
It shows 3 Bhavya's collecting lotuses & lillies. There are lotuses everywhere on lotus leaves and lotus stalks fill the background completely. There are elephants, bulls, fishes, swans, that fill the whole space. 

Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

Sittannavasal Cave Paintings Images Pudukottai Tamil Nadu Fresco Paintings in India

CUBISM IN INDIA IN 9th C CE - PAINTINGS AT SITTANNAVASAL
In Samavasarana, the complete pond and the leaves are seen in a top angle, the flowers and animals in profile, and in every individual unit in a different size scale - You thought cubism belongs to the 19th C? Sorry, you're a millenium late (or make it two as such cubist treatment is also seen in Ajanta)!!!!!

DECORATIVE ELEMENTS - PAINTINGS AT SITTANNAVASAL
Inside atop the 3 thirthankara, is another carpet design of intertwined ribbon design with minute line drawings inside each compartment. One was of Dharma Chakra and diagonally opp. was of a cross with 2 humans and 2 lions on its 4 sections. This kept on repeating. 

I am so so tempted, right now to explain about each and every painting in detail, but that would make this post more art history class-like. So period.....

ELADIPATTAM CAVERNS

The ticket counter at Ezhadipattam would close by 5 PM. So from Sittannavasal, some of us sprinted to Ezhadipattam, our next destination. Many opted out of it, thanks to the flight of several stairs. Safety rails have been put on the slope side of the hill. The climb up made me breathless and the view from atop was breathtaking!!!!!

JAIN BEDS AT ELADIPATTAM, SITTANNAVASAL
This again like Arnattan Malai and Alurutti Malai, was a Jain Cavern with Jain Beds and inscriptions, but this one was much more devastated with the ravages of humans! But not anymore, it is caged by Archaeological Survey of India. The Jain beds here belong to the 2nd C BC

INSCRIPTIONS AT ELADIPATTAM, SITTANNAVASAL
Ancient Tamil Inscriptions are around these beds. Much higher than the other Jain Bed spots, this one has 17 beds!!! Around one of these beds is the inscription that says 'Erumi Naatu Kumuzhuur Pirantha Kavuti Eethendru Sithuppovil Ilaiyaar Seitha Adhittanam'. This informs that the beds were carved by Ilayaar of Thenku Sithuppovil.

Eladipattam Caves Jain Beds Sittannavasal Pudukottai

Eladipattam Caves Jain Beds Sittannavasal Pudukottai

Eladipattam Caves Jain Beds Sittannavasal Pudukottai

Eladipattam Caves Jain Beds Sittannavasal Pudukottai

NAVACHUNAI CAVE SIVAN TEMPLE

JAMBUNATHAR CAVE SIVA TEMPLE
A few of us tried to walk further atop from Ezhadipattam, in search of Navachunai. Nava-ch-chunai, like Talai-Aruvi-Singam Sunai in Narttamalai, is another cave temple located beneath the eternal spring and can be seen only if the whole of water is pumped out. See that claver shaped Jamun tree? The eternal spring is beside this and the temple is in it. Of course, our dreams of trying to reach there were shattered at that point of time. But then, it is not actually inaccessible. But if I reached there by 3 or so and had a few hours in hand, this place could also have been covered!!! That too, with a retd. Army Major in the team, definitely possible!!!!!
The temple inside was built in Late Pandya period (13th C). This too has only a Sanctum Sanctorum with a single Shiva Lingam inside. Locally this is called Jambunathar Cave
Update 2018: After 29 years, in Oct 2018 the water was pumped out for special prayers at this temple. The 2nd picture below shows the interiors of the cave temple. The very next day, it did get refilled with water again!

From here, we trekked back down and by the time, sun had started to set. Water in a distant pond was glistening with the setting sun rays!!!


Jambunathar Cave Sivan Temple Sittannavasal

Jambunathar Cave Sivan Temple Sittannavasal
Pic Credit: Prof.Muthazhagan

Sunset at Sittannavasal Pudukottai Tamil Nadu

Sunset at Sittannavasal Pudukottai Tamil Nadu

HOW TO REACH PUDUKOTTAI
Chennai to Pudukottai distance and route: 400 km via Villupuram, Trichy
How to reach Pudukottai from Chennai: Trains to Rameshwaram go via Pudukottai. Trains / Buses can be taken to Trichy and regular buses are available from Trichy.
Trichy to Pudukottai distance and route: 50 km. Regular buses are available.
Madurai to Pudukottai distance and route: 115 km via Tirupatthur
Coimbatore to Pudukottai distance and route: 300 km via Dharapuram, Dindigul

HOW TO REACH SITTANNAVASAL & ELADIPATTAM
Where is Sittannavasal? (On Google Maps) - Chithannavasal Rock-Cut Jain Temple
Pudukottai to Sittannavasal distance & route: 14km on SH71 towards Viralimalai/Manapparai

SITTANNAVASAL CAVE TEMPLE TIMINGS - Updated on Feb 2021
Sittannavasal opening time - 10:00AM to 4:00PM 

SITTANNAVASAL TICKETS
Rs.20/- for Indians & SAARC nationals and Rs.250/- for foreigners per site.
Can be bought online via ASI's website via ASI - PayUMoney app.
Choose Thiruchirapalli and choose Rock-Cut Jain Temple (Sittannavasal) & Natural Cavern Called Eladipattam. Choose the date and proceed to give your ID details and pay.
Tickets can also be bought at the gate.

Pic Credit: All the images of Sittannavasal (non-watermarked), both exteriors & interiors including photos of the paintings were shot by and copyrighted to Ashok Krishnaswamy

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan, Prof. Muthazhagan, Prof. Jambunathan, and the whole group of Tamil Heritage Trust...

Sittannavasal Paintings Pinterest Sittannavasal Tourist Places Pinterest

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

7 comments:

  1. i wish somehow we found a way to get back all the lost paintings....

    some of mine on the great art

    http://poetryinstone.in/tag/sittanavaasal

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Interesting place and beautiful paintings.
    Good work Bhusha.

    www.rajniranjandas.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love frescoes too!And such breathtakingly beautiful pictures! I'm speechless!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh! that was great. I am amazed! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its mindblowing to see it in real. You have to visit Subramanian Sir...

      Delete

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