Friday Jun 14, 2024

Kuranganilmuttam Kal Mandakam Cave Temple, Thiruvannamalai


Kuranganilmuttam Kal Mandakam Cave Temple, Kuranganilmuttam, Mamandur Via, Cheyyaru Taluk, Thiruvannamalai District, Tamil Nadu 631702


Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma


The Kal Mandakam Cave Temple, located in Kuranganilmuttam village in the Thiruvannamalai District of Tamil Nadu, is an ancient cave temple with unique characteristics.

Location and Historical Significance:

  • The Kal Mandakam Cave Temple is situated in the middle of the Kuranganilmuttam village. This cave temple is an exceptional example among cave temples as it is excavated below the ground level. It is believed to be more than 1500 years old.
  • The temple was cut during the reign of Pallava King Mahendra Varman – I. Although there are no Pallava inscriptions in the cave, it bears many archaic features of Pallava architecture.
  • This site is located about 8 kilometers to the southwest of Kanchipuram on the Vandavasi road, near the banks of the River Palar.

Cave Temple Layout:

  • The cave temple has an interesting layout with seven cells. Three shrines are excavated from the back wall, and four side shrines are cut into its side walls—two on the side walls of the ardha (half) mandapa and two on the mukha (front) mandapa. This configuration makes it a rare specimen of a seven-celled rock temple, showcasing the elaboration of Dravidian temple plans with numerous subsidiary shrines.


  • The cave temple is notable for its unique location. It is excavated below the ground level, and it appears that the original rock was scooped out of the ground to create a vertical shaft for the excavation.
  • The front façade of the east-facing cave is supported by two pillars and two pilasters. These pillars are carved in the characteristic style of Mahendravarman, while the pilasters are tetragonal. There is another row of pillars and pilasters behind the front row, marking the ardha-mandapa and mukha-mandapa of the cave temple. This double bay arrangement is commonly seen in Mahendravarman’s cave temples.
  • The back wall of the cave is adorned with ten pilasters, which accommodate the three cells and three pairs of dvarpalas (doorkeepers). As there are three cells carved at the back wall, it is assumed that this cave temple was dedicated to the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
  • The cave temple layout includes various architectural elements, such as upana, jagati, tripatta-kumuda, kantha, and kampa molding, and these are found above and below the platform.

Shrines and Deities:

  • The central cell of the cave temple appears to be dedicated to Shiva, while the southern cell is believed to be for Vishnu. Both of these cells have dvarpalas at their entrances.
  • Inside the central cell, there is a stone image of Shiva. The southern cell also contains an image of Vishnu, which appears to be a later addition.
  • The northern cell is thought to be dedicated to Brahma, but it is currently empty.
  • There are two side cells on the mukha-mandapa and two more cells like structures on the lateral walls of the ardha-mandapa, making a total of seven cells in the cave.

Special Features and Inscriptions:

  • The cave temple features two dvarpalas at the entrances of the central and southern shrines. The dvarpalas are depicted in distinct styles and postures.
  • Although the cave temple is missing inscriptions from the Pallava period, it holds great historical and architectural significance.

The Kal Mandakam Cave Temple is a unique site that showcases Pallava architectural style and ancient craftsmanship, making it a significant archaeological find in Tamil Nadu.


1500 Years old

Managed By

Archaeological Survey of India.

Nearest Bus Station


Nearest Railway Station

Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai

Nearest Airport


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