Monday, November 29, 2021

Malaiya Kovil Temple Complex – Southern Cave Temple (Okkaliswara Shrine)

Malaiya Kovil Temple Complex – Southern Cave Temple (Okkaliswara Shrine)

The southern cave temple (Okkaliswara shrine) is a rock cut cave shrine excavated on the southern cliff of the hillock. The southern cave temple consists of sanctum, ardha mandapam, façade, maha mandapam and mukha mandapam. The open pillared mukha mandapa encloses the maha mandapa. It can be entered from south and west. There is a closed enclosure on the southeastern side of this mandapa.

A small niche carved on the mother rock enshrines a rock cut Linga namely Malai Kozhundeeswarar can be seen in this enclosure. Shrines & Idols of Navagrahas, Saneeswarar and Bhairavar can be seen in this enclosure. Dakshinamoorthy and Chandikeswarar can be seen on the western side adjoining the mother rock. The Maha mandapam has walls on three sides with entrance on the southern side.

The mandapam is supported by two rows of pillars with three pillars on each side. The façade consists of two pillars in the middle and pilasters each one at the ends. The façade leads to the ardha mandapam. Relief of Valampuri Vinayaga can be seen on the western wall and Jata Munivar on the northern wall of the mandapam. Nandi can be seen in the centre of the ardha mandapam facing towards the sanctum.

The sanctum is excavated on the eastern wall of the ardha mandapa. The sanctum is situated at little higher elevation from the ardha mandapam and can be accessed through flight of two rock cut steps. The sanctum enshrines the presiding deity in the form of Linga housed on a circular avudaiyar.

Presiding deity is called as Okkaliswara / Thiruvengai Kanaleesubhavar / Malaiya Lingam / Thiruvarut Kaaleswarar / Thiruvokalisvaramudaiya Nayanar. There is a separate north facing structural temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati can be seen opposite to the southern cave temple. Mother is called as Aram Valartha Nayagi / Thambiratti. The temple is built in medieval Chola style.