Kudimiyanmalai rock- cut cave Temple complex, Tamil Nadu - beautiful stone sculpture glore

Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN Wikimedia Common

Kudimiyan hill, Pudukottai.  pudukkottai.nic.in

 Kudimiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN   vgopalan.blogspot.com/

Kudimiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN,justdial.com

Located atop a hill in a small village of  Kudimiyanmalai about 20 km from   Pudukottai town, the dist headquarter, Tamil Nadu are two historic rock-cut cave temples, the larger one is  called    Sikkanathaswamy temple dedicated to Lord Shiva  and the small one is  Melakovil. The temple complex was built in phases by Chola, Pallava and Nayak rulers and here, there  are 100 inscriptions on the temple wall, and the ones (7th century) by Pallava ruler Mahendravarman on Music is  quite fascinating. Apparently, many of them date back to Pallava dynasty including  a big hall- mantap that has 1000 ornate grnite pillas. The rock  inscriptions on  Carnatic music in the small cave temple  is recognized as one of the earliest surviving sources of Indian music notation and  they outlay the grammatical notes of Carnatic music.  Not quite well-known outside Pudukotti dist, it is one of the fine places of worship with  a host of well-carved sculptures; it is under the control of the ASI -the Archaeological Society of India. It is listed as one of the important monuments in the state of Tamil Nadu.  
Kudimiyan malai, Pudukkutai dist. mapsofindia.com

Kudimiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN. pudukkottai.nic.in

Stone-carved sculptures aglore, the temple has impressive architecture and especially, the mantap that displays  a chariot drawn by elephant or horses has similarity with  that  of  Sarangapani (Vishnu) temple, Mela Kadambur Amirthakadeswarar Temple, Nageswaraswamy Temple (the latter two are dedicated to God Shiva) at the temple town Kumbakonam and Thyagaraja Temple, Tiruvarur town.  Each large stone sculpture is done with meticulous care and attention, Ulanglanda Perumal (Vishnu who covered heaven and earth with two strides), Veerabhthra in agora form, Ravana, the demon king of Lanka  with ten heads (implying his ten gunas) and the alluring couple - cupid Manmathan and Rathi, and Vishnu in Mohini avatar (to save God Shiva from demon Padhmasuran).  Besides one can see the ten avatars of God Vishnu  in this Shiva temple.  This temple is rife with too many stone sculptures  through out the complex, each surpassing the other in workmanship. A rare scuptural wonder is the sentinels -Dwarapalakas in this temple  give  different stare, one is smiling and the other facing north  gives a stern look.

Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN vgopalan.blogspot.com/

Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN, pinterest.com

The  shrine for goddess Akinlandeswari is said to have been built by one Umayalnachi who was from Devadasi sect. She named the goddess Malaya Mangai. The main deity in the large temple is called Kudimiyan (Kudumi in Tamil means tuft or top))  for two reasons: The presiding deity is on a small hillock.  Accoding to the legend when the priest was in convesation with his would-be wife,the ruler visited the temple with out any advanced information. Taken aback, the  priest took the flower from the woman and gave it as prasad to the King. When the ruler noticed a shread of hair in the prasad,  he asked the priest who said it  was from the God's head. Upon enquiry, the priest told the king that he would show the tuft to him on the following day. When the king visited the shrine to test the veracity of priest's  explanation,   to his surprise, the  king saw the tuft on the God's head. Both the priest and the woman were in tears and thanked the deity for his timely help. Later their marriage was solemnized; hence the name Kudumiyammalai (malai in Tamil means hill).

Kudumiyanmalai  2nd cave temple near Pudukottai, TN,. cpreecenvis.nic.in

Inscriptions, Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN  tripadvisor com.

This is the reason why  the  presiding deity of this temple  is  called Sikhagiriswarar. The othe small  cave temple called Melakkoil or Tirumerral is equally an interesting one. The lingam is  monolith made from the same rock. Famous  for musical inscription describing notations for the seven-stringed musical instrument 'Parivadini,' the cave temple has  exquisite pillars and portrait sculptures of Nayaka period..

Yet another impressive  feature of the small cave temple is  the  rock-cut panel depicting sixty-three Nayanmar (Tamil saints who glorified God Shiva in their hymns)) worshipping Siva and Parvati on Rishabha vaganam (Nandi/ bull mount). Unlike other temples where the 63 Nayanmars are istalled on one side, here they are depicted on two sides with the God and his consort in the middle. 

Also found in this cave temple are  Tamil-Brahmi inscription on the south-western slope of the hill taking its  antiquity to early times.