Seeyamangalam-cave temples of the Pallavas
When we think of Pallava art and architecture, the rock cut caves and the shore temple at Mahabalipuram comes to our mind. However there are quite a few cave temples built by Mahendravarman 1 in early 7th century which were the inspiration for his descendants to build the monuments at Malai or Mahabalipuram as its now called.
One such place is Seeyamangalam, which is about 80 kms from Madras (Chennai). Dedicated to Stambeshwarar, a form of Shiva, the temple has been further extended by the Chola and the Vijaynagar kings who have built the Gopurams and the Mandapams, besides the Murugan temple atop a rock with small steps carved on the stone.
A simple shrine with pillars and pilasters , the temple was called h“ Avanibhajana Pallaveshwaram, Avani, being a title of Mahendravarman 1.
The temple has one of the earliest interpretations of the Ananda Thandava posture of Shiva that we know as Nataraja carved in one of the pilasters, while the other has a low bass relief of Rishabhantara. We were anyways not allowed to take pictures of the deities inside the cave, but were allowed to take a few of the sculptures on the pillars and pilasters – so am sharing the Nataraja or the Ananda Thandava here .
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