Showing posts with label Andhra Pradesh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andhra Pradesh. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Akkanna Madanna Caves: Hindu Rock cut Cave Temple at Vijayawada

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Two east facing rock cut caves are located right at the footsteps of Indrakeeladri hills Vijayawada, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, India PIN 520010. The geographical coordinates of Indrakeeladri are 16°30'49" North (Latitude) ,80°36'23" East (Longitude) .  It has an average elevation of 39 ft from sea level. The famous Kanaka Durga Temple is located on top of Indrakeeladri hill, on the banks of holy river Krishna, Lower cave is located at the foot hills of the old foot-path route with narrow steps leading to the to Kanaka Durga shrine. Upper cave, datable to 2nd century B.C., is located  in the middle of the footpath,. According to archaeologists, the lower cave was hewn by the kings of Vishnukundinas. The caves are protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Lower Cave

The triple celled lower rock cut cave hewn out on the face of the large living rock. The cave measures 14.63 in (48 feet) in length; 8.83 m (29 feet) in width and 2.13 m (7 feet) in height. The entirely rock cut cave comprise three almost square shaped sanctum cells hewn at the rear wall of the cave, an ardha mandapam (small rectangular pillared hall), a mukha-mandapam (slightly spacious rectangular pillared hall), all in single axial plane. The wide facade is cut from the face of the rock and supported by six robust and octagonal pillars without decoration. There are seven inter-spaces (anganas) between pillars and the entrance to the cave through the middle inter-space (angana). The structural beams (uttara) form top most section of the pillars. The column beam corbel method of architecture i,e., angular potikas (corbel brackets), usually inserted between beams and pillars as the supporting element, is absent here. The rough rock brow is bereft of any kapota (overhanging cornice) or drip line for rainwater. Another row of six octagonal pillars divide the inner cave into mukha-mandapam and ardha mandapam. The rear wall of the cave opens with three cells or sanctums.

The lower cave is sculpted about 1.5 m (5 feet) above the ground level and forming an open platform. The decorative elements of adhishtana (plinth) are not distinct.  A flight of five step staircase in middle of the cave with carved balustrades on either sides leads us to the plinth platform.

It is learnt that this cave was hewn on the solid rock face by  Eastern Chalukyas some time between 6th and 7th century A.D.  The lower cave is believed to be dedicated to Akkanna and Madanna. the two brothers who rose to prominence in the sultanate of Golkonda between 1674 and 1685. The smarta brahmin brothers were the prime minister and the commander in chief of Qutub Shahi army, respectively in the court of Abdul Hassan Tanashah, the last ruler of the Qutub Shahi dynasty. They were the simple courtiers in their early life and later rose to the higher posts in Golconda due to their ability.  

However the ASI officials of Indrakeeladri state that there is no evidence to prove the relationship between the Indrakeeladri caves and Akkanna and Madanna. The locals might have preferred to dedicate the cave to Akkanna and Madanna in recent years. 

Upper Cave

The triple celled rock cut cave is believed to be dedicated  to the triumvirate – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva of the Hindu pantheon. Three different cave cells are excavated in a row on the rockface of the long sloping hillock. An unfinished rock cut cave, located in the middle, comprise a pillared ardha mandapam and almost square shaped inner sanctum. The entrance porch is enclosed by a parapet. The ardha-mandapam supported by two round (vratta sthamba) and massive pillars. The major attraction is the ancient bas relief image of Lord Vinayaga (Pillaiyar) panel carved at the left wall niche of the ardha mandapam.. Once the sanctum was housing Shiva Lingam as well as Brahma and Vishnu images. At present you could witness only pedestal with socket in the sanctum. Two cave cells (chambers) are located on either side of the slopes of the hillock and the rock face also depicts bas relief images of animals. 

On either side of the cave cell, there are two single cave cells (chambers) located on either side. These two cave cells don't have pillared mandapam. It straight away has the sanctum cell. Some scholars fix the date of this cave to 2nd fcentury B.C.

Viharas or monasteries (residences of Buddhist monks)  and chaityas (cave shrines) excavated from single rocks are found in Ajanta and Ellora as well as in other parts of India. According to Shri. V.V.Krishna Sastry, former director of Indian archaeology department, the Buddhist viharas or monasteries were converted into Hindu shrines during the reign of  Reddy kingdom (1325–1448 A.D.). Later several South Indian Hindu rulers patronized numerous cave shrines dedicated to gods and goddesses  of Hindu pantheon. Akkanna Madanna caves could have been converted into Shaivite sanctums.

  1. A Testimony to the Times. P.Sujatha Varma. The Hindu January 4, 2008.
  2. Akkanna Madanna Rock cut cave Temple. History - An Unsolved Mystery. Facebook (
  3. Akkanna and Mandanna, Ministers of the Golconda Sultans. Indanetzone.
  4. Akkanna and Mandanna of Colconda were victims of Hindu. Dr.Prabhakar Rao's blog. November 29, 2009.
  5. Akkanna and Madanna (Wikipedia)
  6. Temples around Kanaka Durga Temple. Blessings on the Net.

      YouTube Vijayawada-Akkanna,Madanna Caves on Indrakeeladri-Position as on 18.07.2016                     by Nag Ganta



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mogalarajapuram Caves: Hindu Rock cut Cave Temple near Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh

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Mogalarajapuram caves is located in the middle of the city of Vijayawada at "Kasthuribaipet", Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh, India PIN 522502. The geographical coordinates of Mogalarajapuram are 16° 30' North (Latitude) (16.5089) 80° 37' East (Longitude) (80.6452).  It has an average elevation of 6 m (19 ft). Some historians believe that Mogalarajapuram  caves are datable to early 5th century A.D.  The cave is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).  The caves are in ruins yet it is worth visit.

The Mogalarajapuram five rock cut sanctums are the unexplored places in Andhra Pradesh.  .  The cave temples are located on the hillock..  The rock-cut cave has a facade, mukha mandapam and sanctum cells. The facade of the cave has been cut inwards. The conspicuous components of Mogalrajpuram cave adhishtana (basement) are upanam, kantha, vritta kumuda and pattika. The front facade is supported on two pillars thus forming three spaces between pillars (anganas).  The  anganas in the facade are almost equal. The middle angana forms the entrance to the cave with the flight of three-step staircase in middle front of the cave with balustrades on either sides.  The pillars are in usual early rock-cut cave style, cubical top and bottom (Brahma kanta) with intermediate octagonal shaft (Vishnu kanta). . Above the two pillars there are vettu potika (corbel bracket) holding the overhanging cornice (kapota) with three kudu decorations. One of the kudu is adorned with miniatures of  Trinity image.. 

The side niches have the bas relief images of two dvarapalakas (door guards), one on each side of the outer wall of the cave. The external rock slope outside the cave temple bears two koshtas  
The bas relief image of Ardhanarishwara at the centre cave of Mogalarajapuram is considered as the best sculptural depiction and the unique image is only one of its kind in south India. Ardhanarishwara, an androgynous Hindu form, is composed of Lord Shiva and his consort goddess Parvati (Shakthi). The distinct Hindu deity illustrates half male and half female split down the middle. The female principle of goddess Parvati is inseparable from the male principle Lord Shiva. The sculptural depiction of Ardhanarishwara represents the synthesis masculine and feminine energies.

Another cave bear the images of  Lord Nataraja and Lord Vinayaka. Lord Nataraja (Lord Shiva) is illustrated as the source of all movement within the cosmos. The icon represents by the arch of flames.  The Lord carry out his ‘Tandavam’ (divine dance) to spifflicate the aweary universe and to recreate it back..Lord Ganesha aka Vinayaka emerged as a distinct deity in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., during the Gupta period  The bas relief image of Lord Vinayaka dating back to the 5th century A.D. is unique.   

ASI Monument: Timings: 0900 - 1800 hrs. Entry fee Rs. 3/- per person.. Photography allowed inside the ASI monument.

How to get there?

Nearest railway station: Vijayawada Junction Railway Station
Nearest airport: Vijayawada Airport.


  1. Mogalarajapuram Caves (
  2. The vanishing wonders of Mogalrajapuram caves- Vijayawada - part 1. Poetry in Stone Blog
  3. The vanishing wonders of Mogalrajapuram caves- Vijayawada - part 2 Poetry in Stone Blog


Cave temple Mogalarajapuram Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh by Indiavideodotorg

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Undavalli Caves: Four Storey Hindu Rock cut Cave Temple near Vijayawada Andhra Pradesh

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Undavalli (historically known as Anantasayangudi) - just the nondescript village in the Undavalli village panchayat located in Tadepalle mandal, Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India PIN 522501. It is the suburb of Vijayawada. The geographical coordinates of Undavalli are 16.4957° North (Latitude), 80.5800° East (Longitude).  It has an average elevation of 24 m (79 ft). It is situated on the south bank of Krishna River. The village is connected to Vijayawada by Prakasam Barrage road and the nearest railway station is Krishna Canal railway station (2.9 km). Vijayawada junction railway station is 4,4 km from Undavalli.  Undavalli is 22 km north west of Guntur City and 245.6 km away from Hyderabad, the state capital.. The other nearest state capitals from Undavalli are Mumbai (322.6 km), Chennai (379.5 km)., Bangalore (508.2 km) and Pondicherry (513.0 km), 

Undavalli has several small caves and the well known has the four storey, one recessed above the other, with numerous sculptures and murals. The four storey cave is the wonderful engineering achievement and is considered as the most magnificent and substantial Hindu monument.  The time-honored Undavalli Caves were supposedly sculpted from monolithic solid rock way back in 4th-5th century.

History of Vishnukundina Dynasty

Gabriel Jouveau-Dubreuil in his book "Pallava Antiquities" - Gabriel Jouveau-Dubreuil, V. S. Svaminadha Dikshita. (!917). AES Delhi prefers to call Undavalli a Shiva cave temple. His conclusions: "I do not think that the caves of Undavalli were dug by the Pallavas. On closely examining the sculptures, I have made a discovery which I believe will prove to be greatest importance in ascertaining the origin of these (cave) temples... My opinion, which is quite different is that the caves of Undavalli are the works of Vishnukundinas... The Vishnikundinas were the predecessors of Chalukyas in the Vengi country."

(If already known about Vishnukundinas please skip this para) 

The Vishnukundina Empire (Telugu: విష్ణుకుండిన సామ్రాజ్యము) (420 - 624 A.D.), one of the Middle kingdoms of India, reigned the Deccan, Orissa and parts of South India. They carved land out from the Vakataka Empire. It played the vital part in the history of the Deccan during the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. Vishnukundina is a Sanskritized name for Vinukonda. Scholars made number of attempts to decipher the origins of this dynasty, yet no proper conclusions have been reached so far. The early rulers of Vishnukundina dynasty migrated to the west in search of occupation and under the Vakatakas they might have attained feudatory status. There are controversies in fixing the reign Vishnukundinaas. Some scholars might have fixed time between the end of the Salankayana and the rise of the Eastern Chalukyan power in 624 A.D.. Some historians point out the Vishnukundinas reign was from 420 to 624, while some other historian prefers to assign their reign from early 5th century to the 7th century. Indra Pala Nagara plates mention Indra Varma as the first ruler of the Vishnukundina dynasty.  Madhav Varma II, who ruled for nearly half a century from the middle of the 5th century, is considered as the most efficient ruler and his reign was a golden age in the history of the Vishnukundinas.  

The blog post "Reign of Vishnukundin" dated January 13, 2011 speculates the relationship of Madhavavarma Pallava I with Vakatas since the Pallava prince married a Vatakata princess and they occupy the Vakataka areas of Srisailam after the demise of Vatakatas. So the speculation is that Mahendravarma Pallava I is related to Vatakatas and they are protege of Vatkatakas. As per a theory, proposed by G Jouveau-Dubreuil, Mahendravarman got the inspiration of the cave architecture from Undavalli and Bhairavakonda caves.

Initially  the Vishnukundinas, the rulers of Vakataka empire were supporters of Buddhism and the Undvalli caves were excavated for purposes of Buddhist monastery. The vihara kind of cave architecture, later modified as Hindu shrine. Vishnukundinas were responsible for the modification of several rock cut caves dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to SR Ramanujan (The Lord of Vengadam. pp.23) the dates, to the caves at Bhairavkona, Mogalrajapuram, Vijayawada (Bezawada), Undavalli, were assignable to this period. The royal emblems of Vishnukundinas found in the caves suggest the contributions of Vishnukundinas.  


The east facing solid rock cut cave has the 29 m (95 feet) long and 16 m (50 feet) wide facade opening. The excavation has been carried inward to various depths leaving portions of three rows of massive square stone pillars partially excavated. The low level hall of the ground floor is supported by eight pillars and there are seven anganas (inter-space between pillars). The first floor houses three sanctum cells at the rear side of the cave. The pillared hall forms the front yard for each sanctum cell. The floor is dedicated to the Hindu trinity Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The small shrine at the northern end  houses the image of the attendant.

On the parapet between the ground and the first floors there are large squatted lions and seated 'ganas'. There is a heavy projection above ground floor appearing window like Chaitya. The first floor has larger area and might have partitioned into four different chambers and the door placed on the dividing wall between third and fourth chamber seems to have been removed. Purpose is to merge both chambers into one. The 5.9 m (19.5 feet) square hall on the southern side (on your left side) is supported by four plain four sided pillars (two in the front and two in the back). A 3.048 m square (10 feet square) sanctum cell is built at the back. A tunnel has been formed for flow of water and the outlet channel has been cut under the middle of the threshold. The flight of eight steps leads to the shrine from the front hall. On the rock above is a frieze of elephants and lions. 

The main (central) hall measuring  9.44 m (31 feet ) deep long and 8.83 m (29 feet) wide is found on the northern side (on your right side) and its roof height varies from 7 feet to 8 feet. The roof of this spacious hall is supported by 16 massive pillars sculpted with the upper brahma-kanta (square) the lower brahma-kanta (square) and kattu (octagonal shaft) in the middle.  The square face of the pillars are sculpted with lotus arabesque medallions. At another square face the bas relief image of a man, his consort and the attendant is sculpted. The pillars are arranged in four parallel rows. The rear end pillars found weak and dilapidated. At the rear side there is a square shaped sanctum measuring about 13.5 feet without idol. Two niches on either side of the entrance house two images in standing posture. One of the image is Lord Narasimha. The makara-torana motif adorns above this niche.  The third chamber originally comprise two cells and its roof supported by four pillars bearing lotus medallions. The pedestal for the image is seen at rear side of the cell. The western wall bears the bas relief image of Vishnu appear seated on a couch accompanied by his consort and attendants including the musical performer.

The flight of step on the left side of the main hall leads to the hall in the second floor of the cave measuring about 53 feet (width) x 30 feet (depth) size. There is a long front veranda supported by six pillars and two pilasters. At the rear end of the veranda there are four pillars in the middle and the wall at each end extending throughout the length..  The image of the dvarapalaka appear between the pillars. The sculpted images of Vishnu and other deities adorn at the upper portions of front wall. The image of four armed Vishnu (upper hands holding Chanka and Chakra), seated on the coiled body of the celestial hooded serpent Anantha, appear at the left end of the back wall. At the side there are thirteen images measuring about two feet in height (two  of them damaged) appear listening the discourse of the Lord. The right end of the wall of this hall houses the gigantic 5 m (17 feet) long recumbent image of Anantasai (Lord Vishnu appear reclining on the celestial serpent Sesha) whose head resting under the seven hooded canopy. There are two colossal attendant figures, measuring about eight feet in height, appear seated above and below the arms of the Lord. Lord Brahma appear seated on the lotus flower that emanates from the naval of Vishnu. 

The flight of circular steps from the left side, sculpted out of rock, leads to third floor and terminates under the dome. The third floor has three circular cells in the back wall. 

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An inscription on the veranda of the kitchen in the rock-cut- temple of Anantasayana, Undavalli, Guntur taluk, Guntur district (South Indian Inscriptions Volume 10 No 560 - A.R.E No. 46 of 1909) states that Machama-Reddi, son of Anna-Reddi endowed certain lands (?) for the performance of various kinds of worship in the temple of Anantasayin at Undavalli 

An inscription inscribed in single line in the Vengi character dated 7th or 8th century probably during the time of the Chalukyas. 

A very long Telugu inscription dated around 13th century engraved on the north side of the platform records huge donations to the temple.

The cave is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) 
Timings: Undavalli Cave Timings 09.00 am - 06.00 pm

  1. Mogalarajapuram Caves Vijayawada
  2. Reign of Vishnukundin. Controversies in History.
  3. Rock cut Cave Temple – Undavalli
  4. The Lord of Vengadam by SR Ramanujan. Patridge India. 2014. 268p.
  5. The rock cut caves at Undavalli, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh - Details
  6. Undavalli Caves (Wikipedia)
  7. Undavalli Caves: Ancient Cave Temples Wondermondo
  8. “Undavalli Caves- Beautiful Rock cut cave Temple”
  9. Undavalli Caves Overview 
  10. Vishnukundina: Origin of Vishnukundins.
  11. South Indian Inscription Voulme 10 no 560

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bhairavakona Cave Near Ongole, Andhra Pradesh: Pallava Style EIght Rock cut Cave Temple Group

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Bhairavakona (பைரவகோணா) , a group of eight rock cut temples are located close to the borders of Nellore (நெல்லூர்) and Prakasam (பிரகாசம்) districts. The caves are situated amidst dense Nallamala forest (நல்லமலா காடு) nearer to Ambavaram (அம்பாவரம்) - Kothapalli (கொத்தபள்ளி) villages. From Onipenta (ஒனிபெண்டா)  village on the Mydukur - Porumamilla road (bus route), the cave is 12 km away. Other nearest towns include Kadapa (கடப்பா) (60km), Yerraguntla (எர்ரகுண்டலா)  (50km), Mydukur (மைடுகூர்) (30 km) are nearest big towns. The geographical Coordinates of Bhairavakonda are 15.° 5'15" North and 79°12' 14" East and it has an elevation of 230 meters (757 feet).

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 Trimukha Durga devi / Shiva Lingam 
There are eight rock cut cave temples having resemblance with Mamallapuram (மாமல்லபுரம்) rock cut cave temples. There are eight cave temples excavated on the side of a granite cliff comprising carved architectural elements such as decorative pillars and finely sculpted panels. The Pallava (பல்லவர்) architects started carving rock cut caves and the rock cut architecture of Mamallapuram commenced from late 7th century A.D. Bhairavakonda cave temples have resemblance with Mamamallapuram cave temples  with certain Rashtrakuta-Chalukyan features.

Lord Shiva is the presiding deity here in the form of Kala Bhairava and hence the name Bhairavakona. Roughly the caves can be categorized into two divisions based on their rock cut architecture. The first group caves commencing from north have only shrine cells and completely bereft of any mandapam in front. The cave shrine appear with simple entrances guarded by sthanaka (standing) dvarapalas on either side. Each sanctum cell is provided with a Shiva Lingam. The Shiva Linga peeta sculpted from mother rock and the bull vehicle (Nandi) statue sculpted from the rock and set in front of each sanctum cell.  The back wall of the sanctum in the central cave carved with bas relief image of Trimurti and this image reminds us the Mahesa image at Elephanta cave. The unique cave temples wherein Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Bhairava are worshiped together at one place. The central cave temple also has the idol of goddess Trimukha Durga Devi. A cave temple is also dedicated to goddess Annapurna and the shrine accessible through ladder platform.  The northern most end of the rock bears two splendid images sculpted in conspicuous bas relief – a eight handed Hari Hra and ten-handed slim figure of dancing Siva facing the water falls,. The Trimurti rock cut caves (grihas) reminds us the Pallava caves at Mandagapattu and Mamallapuram To sum up the rock cut cave architecture can easily be assignable from 8th to 9th century AD.

One can easily recollect the rock cut architecture of Mahendravarma Pallava (மகேந்திரவர்ம பல்லவன்). The ornate pillars with Mahendra squatting lions at the base and also the bulbous capital surmounted by a  large abacus, a typical Pallava signature can also be found here. The pottika (corbel) above the pillar is curved but without roll and median patta.  The typical kapota or cornice is roughly sculpted with kudus. Frieze of Buta ganas found below kapota. The two armed gorgeously decorated dwarapalas (door keepers) do not provide front view but only side view and turn straight towards the shrine. Both are standing is similar tribhanga posture over the support of their club.  No protruding curved sharp canine teeth or horns noticed and they are decorated with very fine carvings representing cloth and jewellery.

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Cell bereft of any front mandapam
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Cell with front mandapam Lion pillar - Other Pallava signatures
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Another attraction is that smooth moonlight used to fall on the idol of Goddess Durga Devi on the day of Karthika Pournami and Maha Shivarathri.   The peaceful lush green forest surround the awesome waterfall cascading from 200 mts and flows 1 mt below the central cave temple.  The waterfall offer a pleasant weather. The thundering medicated crystal clear water descends from the height of 200 mt and retreats their health under fullmoon light.  


The legend says that Lord Shiva and his consort goddess Parvati descended from their mount Kailash and were lured by its lush green vegetation, the cascading waterfall and the cave temples. They installed a Shiva Lingam resembling the one at Amarnath. The scholars assign date back to 7th - 8th century A.D.


Karthika Fullmoon day,  found auspicious for Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, is celebrated in a large scale. Maha Shivaratri is another important festival attracts devotees in huge number.

Small guesthouse is available for stay


Ambavaram Kothapalle, Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh

How to Get There

By Road: Nellore to Udayagiri; Udayagiri to SR Puram; SR Puram to Kothapalle; Kothapalle to Bhairavakonda

Nearest raiway station Yerraguntla railwaystation (50 km.) Kadapa railway station (60 km).

Nearest Airport: Tirupathi

  1. Bhairava Konda Temple (
  2. Bhairava Konda cave temples, Ambavaram, Kottapalli, Ongole Andhra Pradesh November 5, 2014 (
  3. Many people throng Bhairavakona. The Hindu November 13, 2008

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sri Kapoteswara Temple, Chejerla (Guntur A.P): Legend of King Sibi and Mahendravarma Pallava I Inscription

Sri Kapoteswara Temple, Chejerla (Wikipedia)

Apsidal Shikara (Gajaprishta Vimanam) (Wikipedia)
Chejarla (சேஜர்லா) also known as Cezarla or Chejerla, a sleepy village panchayat located in Nekarikallu (நெகரிகல்லு) Mandal, Guntur (குண்டூர்) district, Andhra Pradesh , India. PIN 522615. The geographical Coordinates of Chejarla are 16° 18`' 59" North (latitude), 79° 50' 58" East (longitude). Chejarla village should not be confused with Chejrla Kandriga (Nellore) village in PithapuramChejerla Mandal, SPSR Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh or with Chejarla (Nellore) village, Chejarla Mandal, SPSR Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh. The village is situated 22 km north east of Narasaraopet, (நரசராவபேட்) the nearest town and railway station, and 57 km away from Guntur, the, district headquarters. From Nekarikallu bus facility is available for every one hour. It has a total population of 4,094 peoples (2050 male and 2044 female). There are about 1,093 houses in Chejerla village. The village situated in the plain land surrounded by thick jungle and rocky hills.


Chejerla is reputed for Sri Kapotheswara (கபோதேஸ்வரா) temple, one of the very earliest temples in Andhra Pradesh and its origin dates back to third or fourth century A.D. Most probably it is the only temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva as Kapotheswara. The prime deity is the Shiva Lingam. The prime sanctum houses Lord Kapoteswara in the form of Shiva Linga. The barrel vaulted eka-tala vimanam is apsidal or gaja-prishta vimanam (shape of an elephant back) with apsidal sala shikara. It is believed by scholars that the vimana was originally Buddhist Chaitya and was modified for purposes of Shiva worship.


The legend Sibi Chakravarthi (சிபி சக்ரவர்த்தி) is in Mahabharata (மகாபாரதம்), the Hindu epic. The Jataka tales (ஜடகா கதைகள்) of Buddhism have the tale of Sibi Jataka. Usinara's son Sibi of Lunar dynasty (சந்திரவம்சம்) was known for his selflessness and philanthropy. The legend details the philanthropy of Sibi who sacrificed his own flesh to redeem the life of a dove (Lord Agni transformed into dove) hunted by a hawk / vulture (Lord Indra transformed as vulture). The dove came as a refuge to the king Sibi. The legend gained popularity in Sangam Tamil literature i.e., Purananuru (புறநானுறு) verses 37, 39, 43 46 and 228; other Sangam anthologies i.e., Aka Nanuru (அகநானுறு) (36) and Natrinai (நற்றிணை) (14) and Tamil epics Silappadikaram (சிலப்பதிகாரம்) and Manimekalai (மணிமேகலை)  gave more details about this legend. The legend of Kapotheswara is related to this legend and Lord Shiva himself sacrificed part of his body to an eagle to save a pigeon (Kapotha) that took refuge with him.  The temple is erected to this pious king under the title 'Kapotheswara.'

புள் உறு புன்கண் தீர்த்த, வெள் வேல்,
சினம் கெழு தானை, செம்பியன் மருக! -    புறநானூறு 37 (Purananuru 37)

புறவின் அல்லல் சொல்லிய, கறை அடி
யானை வால் மருப்பு எறிந்த வெண் கடைக்
கோல் நிறை துலாஅம் புக்கோன் மருக!
ஈதல் நின் புகழும் அன்றே -        புறநானூறு 39 (Purananuru 39)

நீயே, புறவின் அல்லல் அன்றியும், பிறவும்
இடுக்கண் பலவும் விடுத்தோன் மருகனை, - புறநானூறு 46 (Purananuru 46)

எள்ளறு சிறப்பின் இமையவர் வியப்பப்
புள்ளுறு புன்கண் தீர்த்தோன் - சிலப்பதிகாரம், வழக்குரை காதை

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Kapoteswara Shiva Lingam (Sarasvatam)

Shiva Lingam

Interestingly, in the white marble idol of Shiva Linga, even today you will find large pits / cavities as if portions have been scooped or cut out, and these are said to be the places of the body, from which the Lord cut off his own flesh, in order to save the life of the Kapotha. Also on top of Shiva Lingam there are still two large vertical cavities. The water used for ablution of Shiva Linga drained through one these cavities. Surprisingly the smell of raw flesh is felt and blood oozes from the cavities occasionally. 

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Mahendravarma I Inscription on a slab (Sarasvatam)

The Sanskrit language (grantha script) inscription of Mahendaravarma Pallava I (600 - 620 A.D.), which is not cited frequently by scholars, is seen on the face of the slab fixed behind Nandi Mandapa in front of the prime sanctum. Though this inscription is fully disfigured, yet few portions could be readable and translated, Still the inscription continues to retain significant value since it stands as the evidence for Pallava rule in Guntur region which was later captured by Pulakesi II (610 - 641 A.D.)... The inscription is assigned to Mahendravarma Pallava I of Pallava dynasty which is clearly ascribable by the salutation (title) "Avani Bhajana," "Vegavati-sanatha" and "Mahendra Vikrama Varma." The inscription also documents the construction of this temple by appointing twelve Devakanmis (S.I.I. vol. VI no. 595). The initial construction of this temple by Mahendravarma Pallavan I is evident from this inscription. But the brick structure of Mahendravarman was revamped later by the successive rulers. Hence it can be claimed that Mahendravarman, constructed brick structure, though he was concentrating in rock cut cave temples. 

Inscription of Krishnaraya, dated Saka 1440 (current), Isvara, Jyestha ba. Friday, solar eclipse corresponding to 1517 A.D., June 19, on a slab near mandapa in the temple S.I.I. Volume XVI No. 60. (Telugu Inscriptions Vijayanagara dynasty) (A. R. No. 335 of 1915.) registers a gift of 12 puttis measured by the peddapatinagari-ambaram and 12 varahas, to Namassivaya, the Srikarana of god Kapotesvara by Saluva Timmarasa at the command of the king for the merit of his family.  The Sanskrit verse with which the record begins, refers to Chemjerla as the sarvamanya-agrahara.  Also records the remission of certain levies and specifies the quantities of rice, dhall, ghee, etc., for the daily use in the temple as well as the shares of the offerings to the various officials and temple servants including the Srikarana.


Shivaratri is the main festival in this temple.

Temple Timings: 06.00 to 08.00

  1. Chejerla inscription of Mahendra Pallava I by Sakaranarayanan in Sarasvatam 5th December 2015 (
  2. Kapotheswara swamy Temple (
  3. Select Andhra Temples. Dr.M.R.Rao
  4. Sibi (King) (Wikipedia)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Gudimallam Parasurameswara Temple: Most Ancient Shiva Lingam in the World

Shiva Lingam @ Parasurameshwara Temple

Gudimallam (குடிமல்லம்), a freaky village located in Yerpedu Mandal (எர்பேடு மண்டல்), Chittur (சித்தூர்) district, Andhra Pradesh state, India Pin Code 517526. Gudimallam village should not be confused with Mallam (Pithapuram) village in Pithapuram Mandal, East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh or with Mallam (Nellore) village, Chittamur Mandal, SPSR Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh.

The geographical Coordinates of Gudimallam are 13° 60' 1" North (latitude), 79° 57' 0" East (longitude) It is located on a diversion from the Tiruchanur (திருச்சானூர்) road at a distance of 18.9 km from Tirupathi (திருப்பதி) and 8.7 km from Renigunta (ரேணிகுண்டா) Jn. railway station; 82 km towards East from District head quarters Chittoor (சித்தூர்).  It is 10.4 km from Yerpedu (எர்பேடு), 25 km from Pallam (பள்ளம்) and 438.5 km from State capital Hyderabad (ஹைதராபாத்). Renigunta (8.3 km), Tirupathi (20.8 km), Srikalahasti (ஸ்ரீ காளஹஸ்தி) (21.6 km,) Narayanavanam (நாராயணவனம்) (20,1 km), Puttur (புத்தூர்) (17.8 km) are the nearby railway stations. From Chennai (சென்னை) the village is 95.6 km away. The other state capitals are Pondicherry (பாண்டிச்சேரி) 186.7 km and Bangalore (பெங்களூர்) 228.3 km. Buses to Gudimallam village are available from Tirupati Bus Stand and the frequency is less on this route. However you will get auto-rickshaws from Renigunta Jn. railway station and the to and fro trip may cost around Rs. 250/- The Gudimallam village has the population of 2071 of which 1025 are males while 1046 are females as per Population Census 2011.

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Gudimallam Gateway
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Gudimallam Temple Prakaram
The curling muddy road will be leading along the Swarnamukhi river bank, and its dry Swarnammukhi river bed, picturesque paddy fields towards Gudimallam village. The age old temple stands amidst paddy fields. The tall gateway appear without any tower. The temple usually appear deserted except occasional visitors. 


Historically, Gudimallam village is significant since it is the home for the ancient  Parasurameswara (பரசுராமேஷ்வரா) (Shiva) Temple. The temple is protected by ASI since from 1954 and according to some learned sources the Parasurameshwara temple has a 2200 year old history as the longest continuously worshiped Shiva temple (சிவன் கோவில்) in the world. The centuries-old prime sanctum is built with brick super-structure (hara, griva and shikara) studded with stucco images (சுதை உருவங்கள்) and the granite substructure (from adishtana to prastara) and the plinth of the vimana has prativaribanda adhistana (பிரதிவரிபந்த அதிஷடானம்) with the components of upana (உபானம்), jagadi (ஜகதி), vritta (round) kumuda  (உருள்குமுதம்) mouldings. The external walls are segmented by pilasters (அரைத்தூண்கள்) and carry niches (கோஷ்டங்கள்) housing the images of Ganesha, Vishnu and Brahma.  The upper tala (தளம்) (storey) built with brick and lime mortar carries hara with apsidal sala shikata (கஜபிருஷ்ட சால சிகரம்). Three metal stupis (finials) crowning the shikara of the vimana.

The vimana over prime sanctum has an apsidal shape i.e., gaja prishta vimana (கஜபிருஷ்ட விமானம்) meaning 'back of an elephant' due to its structural design. The apsidal vimana of Parasurameswara is hollow inside  and the vimana is named as Lingakriti (லிங்கக்ருதி) vimana since the elevation of the vimana resembles the shape of the Shiva Lingam. The sanctum has a false ceiling over wooden joists. Gaja prishta vimanas, in general can be seen in many Chola built temples around Chennai and its suburbs. This east facing sanctum is enclosed all around externally by a peristylar cloister (திருச்சுற்று மண்டபம்) and the entrance to the sanctum is through the south side of the mahamandapa.

A separate shrine for goddess is located at north west corner of the temple. Also there are shrines for minor for parivara devatas (associate deities) like Kartikeya (Subramanya) and Suryanarayana. The temple sanctums are enclosed by tall perimeter wall around the periphery with towerless gateway from the west.

It is believed that the bana and the peeta were under the tree. Successive rulers i.e., Pallavas, Cholas, Banas and Vijayanagara kings augmented the structures. The apsidal shaped sanctum could be the most ancient part of this temple since sanctum flooring is much lower than the floorings of antarala and mukhamandapam.  

The excavations carried by ASI (former director of ASI Dr.I.K.Sarma) during 1973 has retrieved black and redware sherds (date) assignable to 2nd - 3rd century A.D. The potsherds and the large size bricks (42 x 21 x 6 cm) retrieved from the site made the scholar to assign the temple to Satavahana  (சாதவாகனர்கள்) period. ASI prefers to call it the earliest extant Shiva Lingam in India.

Iconography - Shiva Linga

The prime deity seven sided monolithic Shiva Lingam (Savedika Linga), measuring about five feet (1.35 meter) in height and one feet in diameter is housed in the prime sanctum. The Shiva Lingam is believed to be the manifestation of the Hindu Trinity; Brahma manifests at the bottom; Vishnu at the mid-part and Shiva on top. The Shiva Lingam depicts the tall and wide bana. The Linga is openly set up within the square base. The square base is surrounded by a low three barred railings on slabs and the top railings found damaged and now replaced with new slabs during renovation. The bana and the peeta alone are considered as the most ancient form and all the remaining structural augmentations are later additions by rulers of various dynasties.  

It is interesting to find a deep slanting groove cut about one floor from top of the bana. Within the groove the sculptors have carefully sculpted the high relief image of a hunter! The hunter exhibits perfect anatomical proportions and his torso resembles the shape of a bull's head. The image is well built with broad shoulders, narrow hips, tight buttocks and toned abdominal muscles. He is radiating an abundance of vitality and energy. The hunter stands in sthanaka posture and spreading his legs wide apart and his feet are firmly planted on the shoulders of Amarapurusha (crouching dwarf yaksha). His face is peaceful and serene, if not smiling.The two armed idol exhibits both hands keep hanging loosely. His right hand holds the dead goat by the hind legs and his left hand also holds a globular pot and it also clutches the long thick battle axe (parasu) (கோடாரி) at its handle. The fierce weapon also rests on his left shoulder. According to some scholars the image of the hunter represents 'Vedic (வேதகால) and proto puranic (புராண காலத்திற்கு முந்தைய) concepts of Rudra (உருத்திரன்).' 

His hair is arranged like jatabhara 'burden of braids' characterized by large number of penetential plaits worn in a bunch. His elongated ear-lobes wear heavier ring shaped kundalas. Elongated ear lobes have become a sign of power, nobility and wealth. His neck is adorned with sarapali (most elaborate neck jewelry) around his neck; armlets with keyura / tholvalai (ornament around arms) on his shoulder-arms; elbow with kangana (elbow jewelry - bracelets of beads on each wrist (thick usually 3 – 5 strings) on his elbow; wrists with kataka valai / bangles in the wrists; rib cage with udarabandha - broad ornamental belt below the ribs; and thin garment worn around the waist are generously pleated and also wears beaded katibandha (hip belt) around the waist. Unusually the hunter has no yagnopavitha. 

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The dwarf / Amarapurusha
The Amarapurusha seen seated on his knee and his body appear shrunken. His face show tight teeths - may be he is finding it difficult to balance the weight of the super Lord. His ears appear like leaves.


Gudimallam temple legend speaks about puranic tale about Sage Parasurama. The sage beheaded his mother at the behest of his father. He sought advice of his guru the ways and means to relinquish his sin of killing one’s own mother. He was advised to pursue and locate the Shiva Lingam and observe penance as a remedial measures. 

Sage Parasurama, after much pursuit, located Gudimallam Shiva Lingam and dug a pond nearby to observe penance. The sage noticed the blossoming of single holy flower everyday at the pond and he submitted the flower at the feet of Gudimallam Shiva Lingam. To protect the Lingam from external beasts, he assigned the task of guarding the flower with Chitrasena (சித்திரசேனை), a yakshi (celestial servant). The yakshi received toddy and the hunted animal from Parasurama as a reward for her guarding duty. One day Chitrasena offered the holy flower from the pond to Lord Shiva. Parasurama got enraged by the yakshi's act and attacked her with his axe. Chitrasena also retaliated severe blow. The fight prolonged for 14 years and finally a pit formed nearby. From then on wards the temple was known as 'Gudipallam' or temple at the pit. Over the period the temple name changed as 'Gudimallam.'


Number of inscriptions have been identified on the inner walls of the Parasurameshwara Temple and also over stone slabs in the courtyard of the temple. Many of the inscribed records speak of the perpetual gifts made by several rulers and these  have been assigned to the rulers of Ganga Pallavas, Pallavas, Cholas and Bana dynasty. 

The most ancient inscription of the Parasurameshwara temple is assignable to twenty-third regnal year of Nandivarma Pallava III and datable to 802 A.D.  An inscription dated in twenty-fourth reganl year of Nrpatungavarman records the donation from Vanavidyadhara-Mahabali Vanaraya.  In the 49th regnal year inscription of Dantivarman (778 - 829 A.D.) speaks about the grant was to Gudimallam (no. 226 of 1903) when the Bana king Vijayaditya I, (796 - 835 AD.) son of Jayanandivarman served vassal / feudatary of Dantivarma Pallvan. The geneology of Banas of the Perumbanappadi is furnished by the Gudimallam and Udayendiram plates. The latest inscription at the temple is assignable to Yadava Devaraya (AD. 1346). Gudimallam (as well as Kolar) served as the capital of Bana dynasty. An inscription of the time of Vikrama Chola refers to a complete rebuilding of the temple in 1126 AD., along with flat gopura and the wall. Surprisingly none of these inscriptions refer the village name as ‘Gudimallam.’ However the village is referred to as ‘Viprapita’ i.e., ‘Brahmana Agrahara’ and Lord Shiva represented as fierce hunter. 

Temple Timings: The temple is open from 06.00 am to 08.00 pm

  1. Gudimallam (Wikipedia)
  2. Gudimallam. Papanaidupeta, Kalahasti, Tirupathi .(
  3. Gudimallam Linga - Satavahana Style. (
  4. Mysterious saga of a 2,200 year old lingam. ( 

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