Thirumalapuram Rock-Cut Cave Temples
At a distance of 1 km from Thirumalapuram Bus Stop, 24 km Tenkasi, and 62 km from Tirunelveli, the Thirumalapuram Rock-Cut Cave Temples are situated on Varanasimalai hill in Sankarankovil Taluk of the Thirunelveli district. Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, it is one of the important heritage in Tamilnadu, and among the major places to visit as part of Tenkasi trip.
There are two rock-cut cave temples which are excavated by Pandyan Kings in 750 AD. Among the two caves, one is finished and the other is unfinished. The finished one is more significant with rectangular Ardha-mandapa with a flight of steps and cells on the western wall. It contains bas-relief sculptures and two inscriptions from the Pandyan period.
This temple has 3 sections with 3 bas-relief structures. The first one is a beautiful dancing Siva with a bhootha gana and bull on both sides. Lord Shiva is seen in the dancing posture of Chatura. A dwarf near his foot plays the musical instrument. The second carving is a standing Lord Vishnu with 4 hands and 2 seated bhootha ganas on either. Seated Ganesha is seen next to him. On one side is the sanctum sanctorum with a Siva Lingam. On either side of the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum are dwarapalakas. There is another relief sculpture of Brahma with 4 hands and 3 visible heads. On the center of the hall, facing the Siva Linga is a monolith Nandi which is in a broken state.
These figures in these temples are excellent examples of Pandyan art. An inscription of the 12th century mentions a gift of land to the temple by a prince named Chakravartin Srivallabhadeva.
Timings: 9 AM - 5 PM