March 31, 2012

Mamallapuram Kotikal Mandapa

Site Name: Kotikal Mandapa
Site Type: Pallava architecture, cave temple, sculpture
Location:  1.5 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A little known but beautiful cave temple of Pallava era
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options are available within Mamallapuram and East Coast Road outside the town
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the town

Mamallapuram, the city of Pallava period monuments, is dotted with a lot of popular and less known rock cut temples, structural temples, monolithic rathas and bas relief panels. Kotikal Mandapa is a cave temple located near Trimurti cave temple slightly away from the center of the town (Krishna's butter ball is located at the center of the town).



Kotikal Mandapa is very small cave temple. It is a single cell shrine. Currently there is no idol is found in the cell. However, it is obvious that it would have been dedicated to the Goddess Durga as the entrance is flanked by two female Dwarapalaks on either sides. One female is holding a sword whereas the other one is holding a bow.

The small mandapa (hall) in the front side is supported with two thick pillars and pilasters.

Happy travelling.





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Mamallapuram Trimurti Cave Temple

Site Name: Trimurti Cave Temple
Site Type: Pallava architecture, cave temple, sculpture
Location:  1.5 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A beautiful cave temple of Pallava era

Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai

Hotel: A lot of options are available within Mamallapuram and East Coast Road outside the town
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the town


Trimurti Cave Temple is a fine example for Pallave architecture. It is located in Mamallapuram, the city of sculptures and monuments. Although it is a well known monument, it is not regularly visited by all the tourists. It is located slightly away from the Krishna's butter ball.

The cave temple is dedicated to Trimurties of Hinduism - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Although it is obviously a Pallava architecture, it is clearly not known which Pallava king built this monument. Few scholars claim that it was the work of Parameshvaravarman I, whereas the others claim it might be the work of Rajasimha or Mamalla.

The cave temple is different from the other cave temples of Mamallapuram; it doesn't have pillared mandapa. It straight away has the three shrines. The middle shrine has prominence and it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. All the three shrines have deities. The right most shrine is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the left most shrine is dedicated to Lord Subramanya (ideally, it should be Brahma; however, according to the scholars it is the idol of Subramanya; I am not sure if it is the case why the cave should be called as Trimurti cave).

All the shrines have two dwarf ganas and two devotees at the feet of main deities. Similarly, all the shrines have dwarapalaks at the entrance. The shape of dwarapalaks, devotees and ganas in each shrine is different depending upon who is the main deity.

There is an independent niche where the Goddess Durga in the form of Mahisasuramadini with eight hands is excavated. She is standing on the head of buffalo (demon Mahisa).

The back side of Trimurti cave has a beautiful bas relief panel where two elephants and their cubs along with a monkey and peacock are found.

Trimurti cave temple is definitely an exceptionally great Pallava period monument. Do not miss this place when you visit Mamallapuram.

Happy travelling.

 


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March 30, 2012

Mamallapuram Koneri Mandapa

Site Name: Koneri Mandapa
Site Type: Pallava architecture, temple, sculpture
Location:  2 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A little known heritage site in Mamallapuram
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options are available within Mamallapuram and East Coast Road outside the town
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the town

There are many historical monuments in Mamallapuram, the city of historical sculptures. Some of the monuments are very popular; some of them are little known; there are also few monuments which are literally unknown. Koneri Mandapa is one such monument which is commonly not known even to the citizens of Mamallapuram.

A sculpture near Koneri Tank
The monument is located at a distance of around 0.5 km from Koneri tank. Koneri tank is a well known landmark in Mamallapuram. Unfortunately, the monument located near the tank has not become popular as the tank. The tank is located at the backside of the hill where all the monuments are located. From the tank, if you travel for about 300 m to 400 m, you can find a small pond like pit filled with water. Near that, there is a small stone bed with lion faced stone pillow. If you travel further for another 300 m, you will reach Koneri Mandapa. The other way to reach Koneri Mandapa is from a little known passage near Trimurti cave temple. It is unfortunate that both the paths to Koneri Mandapa are not safe. People dealing with illegal activities or drinking alcohol are generally found in these places.

Koneri Mandapa
The west facing Koneri Mandapa is a five celled pillared hall. Two rows of pillars are found in the mandapa. The cornice of the cave temple on the front facade has nine horse shoe shaped windows. Above that few miniature shrines are found. The roof is left unfinished. All the five cells are found empty nowadays. Based on the different shapes of dwarapalak images carved at the entrance of each shrine, the scholars believe that these shrines are dedicated to five different forms of Lord Shiva.






Koneri Mandapa and Unfinished Mandapa
There is another west facing cave located north of Koneri Mandapa. It is excavated into the same rock. The front facade is supported by four thick pillars and two pilasters. 

Happy travelling.

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March 29, 2012

Mamallapuram Olakkanneshvara Temple

Site Name: Olakkanneshvara Temple
Site Type: Pallava architecture, temple, sculpture
Location:  1.5 kms from bus stand, Mamallapuram, near Chennai (55 kms from Chennai), Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A famous heritage landmark of Mamallapuram; old light house
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options are available within Mamallapuram and East Coast Road outside the town
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the town

Mamallapuram, the city of fine monuments and sculptures, is an ancient coastal city. It was an important port in those days. In spite of many monuments in the city, the Light House remains as an important and well known landmark. Near the new light house, the old light house which is actually a structural temple, which was probably built by Rajasimha Pallava, is located. It is called as Olakkanneshvara temple.

Olakkanneshvara temple is located above the hill where the Mahisasuramardini cave temple is carved out. However, this is not a cave temple; it's a structural temple. The temple tower is not present nowadays. In 18th century/19th century, the temple was used as a light house also. The temple which is not under worship nowadays can be reached through flight of steps carved in the rock.

The shrine doesn't have any idol nowadays. It could have been a Shiva temple. The external walls have sculptures of Shiva in various forms such as Dakshinamurti, Shiva slaying Yama and Nataraja. There is a sculpture where Raavan is trying to lift the Kailash mount where Shiva and Paravati are found seated. There are bas relief sculptures of dwarapalaks, dwarfs, lions and elephant heads available throughout the walls. Almost all the sculptures are ruined and also it is difficult to have a closer look of all the sides of walls.

A lovely place in Mamalllapuram, indeed....don't miss this place.

Happy travelling.

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