Vijayalayacholeswara & Cave Temples

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prakash manjrekar

Narthamalai is 36 km south of Trichy and 17 km north of Pudukottai.There are two cave temples facing east and a later structural temple complex, Vijayalaya Choleswaram, facing the caves. This larger cave is probably one of the largest cave of the Pudukkottai region.Outside large cave temple Sapta Matrukka are located in two congregations. In addition, a dwarapala and a Vinadhara Dakshinamurty can be seen at entrance. Inside the rectangular mukha-mandapa of the cave, there are twelve nearly identical images of Vishnu carved on lateral and back walls. They all are shown standing over a lotus pedestal.There is a mutilated square Shiva-linga base/Pedestal inside the sanctum.A most interesting feature of the cave is seen in the platform of its extended mandapa. A vyala & elephant row above kumudam is one of the most exquisite representation of these mythological animals.