Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Kalugasalamoorthy Temple (Kalugumalai Murugan temple), Kalugumalai, Thoothukudi – The Temple

Kalugasalamoorthy Temple (Kalugumalai Murugan temple), Kalugumalai, Thoothukudi – The Temple
The temple is located in Kalugumalai, a rocky hill in Thoothukudi district in southern Tamilnadu. The sanctum of the temple is approached through a pillared hall near the gateway. The temple tank is located outside the temple. The sanctum is built in a rock-cut cave, which houses the image of Murugan in the form of Kazhugachalamurthi in seated posture. The sanctum faces west and the image of the presiding deity is 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall.

The image is sported with six hands with one of them holding Vel (divine spear), his left leg over the shoulder of the peacock and right is left hanging. There are separate shrines of his consorts Valli facing south and Deivanai facing north. There is a separate shrine for Shiva and Parvathi and all the Parsvatah Devatas (attendant deities) associated with Shiva temples.

Usually in Murugan temples, his vehicle peacock would be heading towards his right, but it is sported on to the left of Murugan in this temple. It is believed that Indra, the king of celestial deities, appeared as peacock to worship Murugan. The image of the peacock is hence covered during the festivals. Also Kalugumalai houses the 8th century Kalugumalai Jain Complex and Vettuvan Koil, an unfinished Shiva temple.

Kalugasalamoorthy rock cut cave temple excavated on the south-eastern slope of the low rising Araimalai hillock. The present rock cut cave temple has transformed into huge complex with the structural additions such as shrines for associate (Parivara) deities, mandapas and cloister mandapas and holy water tank. The Lord Jambukesavara (form of Lord Shiva) appear as Shivalinga in the east facing sanctum at the mandapa and the goddess Akhilandesvari also appears in a separate south facing sanctum. The pillared mandapa is supported by pillars with aesthetic bas relief sculptures. 

The rock cut cave temple can be accessed through a mahamandapa or entrance pavilion (hall) which has two entrances, one at west and the other at north. The structural mahamandapa is actually an extension of the rock cut cave temple. There are two sanctums adjoining to the northern wall of the mahamandapa housing Lord Nataraja and Lord Arumuganayanar (Lord Muruga). The rock cut cave temple consists of a facade, mukha mandapa and sanctum.

The facade comprises two stupendous pillars in the middle and pilaster on both ends with the features of square, octagonal kattu and square. The pillars and pilasters are insulated with brass sheets. The original facade of the rock cut temple has been modified to suit the flight of steps and the plinth (floor) formation of the structural main mandapa. The facade, with evenly leveled floor, is 2.05 metres in the east - west and 6.30 metres in the north - west. 

The facade also extends by 6.46 metres in the north - south and 60 cm in the east - west and the height is 2.08 metres. The flight of four steps (only three in the north) leading to the mukha mandapa pass through the anganas of pillars.  The kapodabandha Adhishtanam of the facade comprise elements such as upana, supporting upana, Thamarai, jagadi, eight patta kumuda, kantha with pada flanked by kampa, pattika and uparikampa and kapota.  

The octagonal kattu of pillars rest on the wide-angular vettu potikas (corbel brackets) which supports the prastara elements such as Uttara (beam), vajana and roof. The prastara elements also extend as unsculpted kapota. The north and south walls forming part of the mother rock extends evenly up to one metre.

Mukha mandapa:
Another row of two pillars and two pilasters are cantoning the part of facade and mukha mandapa. The angana (space between pilaster and pillar) at north bears a brick wall partition. The south angana (between pilaster and pillar) modified with brick wall partition with an entrance to the rock cut sanctum. A flight of single step leads to the sanctum.

The angana between the two pillars is also modified as the main entrance to the cave sanctum. The brass sheet insulated pillars bear lotus medallions. The lintel of the main entrance (below the kapota insulated with brass sheet) shows makara torana with goddess Gajalakshmi at the center. The square section of the pillars and wide angular vettu potikas support the prastara elements like vajana and roof.  

Inner mandapa:
An inner mandapa is located in between sanctum and mukha mandapa, measuring 6.50 metres in the south - north and 2.00 metres in the east - west and 2.77 metres in height. 

The flight of single step leads to the sanctum.  The sanctum is a cubical cell with 1.98 metres in east-west and 2.48 metres in north-south directions. The height of the sanctum is 2.48 metres. The anterior wall of the sanctum is sectioned with the four pilasters. There are two platforms constructed adjoining to the south wall of inner mandapa and sanctum.  The sanctum houses Lord Kalugasalamoorthy with consorts.

Lord Kalugasalamoorthy appears seated on his pea-cock vehicle in utkutikasana posture. The Lord is accompanied by his two consorts: goddess Valli on his left and facing north and goddess Deivanai on his right and facing south. The jewelry of the goddesses includes Karanda makuta, pathra kundalas, sarapali, armlets, bracelets and silk garments on their waist. Goddess Deivanai alone wears breast band. The Lord wears Karanda makuta, patra kundala, pearl and Rudraksha beads malas, and silk garments on his waist.

Of the twelve hands the upper right hand holds Vajra (thunderbolt), middle right  hand holds the khadga (sword), the lower right hand shows abhaya hasta mudra (gesture of fearlessness); the upper left hand holds sakthivel (spear), middle hand khetka (shield) and lower hand varada hasta mudra (gesture of generosity).


The Vikrama Pandiya’s 15th regnal year inscription engraved before the sanctum of Lord Jambukeswarar (on the south wall) records the gift of fifty goats and one sheep to provide ghee for burning perpetual lamp by the Sri Rudramahesvara of this temple.  The inscription also mentions about the tank for collecting the ablution water.

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