Cave temple in Keeranur

Malayadippatti, near Keeranur – Pudukkottai has a wonderful cave temple popularly known as Olipathi Vishnu Graham (Kan Nirantha Perumal). This Pandya cave temple belong to 7th – 8th Century CE.

The Vishnu temple was carved out of a small hillock in the village.

Photo by Krishnan

In front of the temple, one can see the Garuda, Bali Peedam and a Dwajasthambam. The temple was built with a Mukha Mandapam (front hall) and then the sanctum. The temple has a number or reliefs which are covered with Stucco & paint was applied on top.

In the Mukha Mandapa, on the eastern side there is a relief of Mahavishnu in the standing posture. The Vishnu has four hands with top ones having Shanka & Chakra. The lower right hand in Abhya Hasta & left hand rests in waist. Sridevi & Bhoodevi are on either side

Before entering the sanctum, on the right hand, there is a unique sculpture of Narasimha in the sitting posture known as Maharaja leelasana. He has four hands with top ones having Shanka-chakra. The lower right hand rests in the bent right knee & the left hand on the left thigh.

Photo by Krishnan

In the Sanctum, Perumal is in Ananthasayana Kolam on Adisesha. The 15ft Moorthi’s right hand is stretched in a protective pose & the left hand raises in Kataka Mudra. The Sesha has five hoods. Brahma raises from naval with the other devas seen in the wall.

Photo by Krishnan

The temples sculptures has lots of similarities with Gupta architecture which shows Pandya cave temples are modelled based on the Gupta temples. There is a inscription in the temple by Sundara Pandya of later Pandyas who calls the pond near the temple as Arangan Sunai. This temple is believed to have power to cure eye related ailments

T S Krishnan

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