Dhalavanur (Villupuram - Tamil Nadu)

After Vallam and Theevanur, our next stop in the 'Mahendra Trail' was Dhalavanur. So, what did Mahendra build here. A rock cut cave temple - built by Mahendra Varman I, who is also called Satrumallan in 580-600 AD, hence the name Shatrumalleshwaram cave temple to this place.

Reaching here was the biggest challenge. Some time on highway, some time on smaller roads, some time on dirt track and some walk to reach this fantabulous place.

Once near, its a visual treat to even see this place. Set in the midst of fields with green paddy its so ethereal. To reach this place, a mini walk through the ridges of the paddy field makes the trip perfect, or so did I think!!! The trip was made all the more awesome further in or rather, further high.

As soon as I entered, I saw for myself, one of the important reasons why this place is celebrated for. The 'Magara Thoranam'. The intricate detailing at the top of the entrance. Magaram is a crocodile like mythical creature. Exactly at the centre are 2 smaller ones facing out towards 2 bigger ones. The 2 are linked with a series of intricate relief sculptures. Riding the 2 bigger ones are 2 men and a man centrally seated on the 2 smaller crocs. Above this is an enclosure called 'koodu' inside which is a face of  man. There are 5 such koodu equally spaced atop. Here at the outside are 2 pillars with inscriptions on one of them, with 2 dwarapalas on either sides.

Inside are 2 pillars on the left. with inscriptions on both in both ancient Tamil and Sanskrit Grantha script. It is said that the Grantha was sculpted earlier the Tamil is its translation. There's also a sanctum sanctorum on the left with a huge Shiva Lingam inside. Just outside the sanctum sanctorum, on either sides are 2 dwarapalas.
All these 4 dwarapalas, as I said in the previous post, as kind of elegant when compared to the later era ones. The later era ones have vampire teeth, 4 arms, a lot of weapons, harsh looking - none of which are seen here. 
Once out of this place, we tried to find the 2 Jain Beds. The path to it is further to the right of the hillock. The steps start at about 6 feet high, so we had to find our own way of climbing this 6 feet over the rocks. 
Then the steps lead to the top where a Jain Bed. Unfortunately I could not find the 2nd one. 

But what I saw there was absolutely mind blowing. Boulders, boulders, boulders everywhere - ome cracked up, some precariously hanging, some narrow paths, some places where sun shies away, some places where with a lot of effort can be climbed.................. 
Reminded me of Guna Caves (Guna is a Tamil movie starring the legendary actor Kamal Hassan which features a cave)!!! Seeing this place made my day. 
The view from atop to the lush green vegetation and paddy fields was all the more marvelous... I could sit on those boulders all day long, but my pals pulled me away from the place, coz we had to cover quite a lot that day. What else did we cover - wait n watch!!!

From Gingee:
13 km towards Viluppuram on SH 4 and left turn at Palpattu - Kallalipattu Road.
After Kallalipattu, skip the first village, the 2nd village is Thenpudhupattu.
This village is 6 km from the junction. Here, walk 250m on the dirt track to the right.
The right here has to be taken where you spot a chrome yellow house with blue windows!!! You can't miss it, its such a bright combo for that locality...
Car/Bike goes to about 200m, after that you have to walk. You will spot a little temple beside a banyan tree at a little hillock. No, that's not our temple. Go around this hillock towards right through some vegetation and thorns and you'll spot the blue board of ASI. And ahead you wont miss the rock cut temple...
Beside the temple you'll spot the steps to climb to the Jain Beds.
Google Map Coordinates: 12.151925,79.478957

Photo Courtesy: First pic and second last pic belong to Gopu.
Dedicated to Prof. Sivaramakrishnan, Gopu, Siva and Siddharth.


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. 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


  1. Wow. Another wonderful find. Those precariously dangling rocks and those slits look awesome. The view of the green fields from the top look beautiful. Nice post with great photos.


    1. The moment we got there at the top, what was running in my mind was, if any Tamil movie director saw this place, he'd put the heroine on top of this rock for a duet!!!

  2. I didn't know such a place! Thank you for the post. Good photos and description.

    1. Glad I introduced the place to you...
      Thank you for your appreciation dear! :)

  3. well narrated travelogue...

    beautiful green fields photo...

    and temple photos...

    some photos resembles my chithral travel photos

    thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Krishna. :)
      I've heard so much about Chithral, but yet to visit!!! :)

  4. Very good information. Thank you.
    In my next visit is to this place.
    I J Venkat, Vijayawada

    1. Do visit the place Venkat! Its in a rural setting!!!


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