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| Last Updated:: 14/09/2023

Vilappakkam Cave Temple







Vilappakkam is a small town in near Arcot in Vellore district of Tamilnadu. The hilly area, known as Pancha Pandava Malai, seems to be a flourishing Jaina center from ninth to eleventh century as evident from inscriptions on and near this area. The name Pancha Pandava Malai is associated with Pandavas, the heroes of Mahabharata; however this association is just because of some tradition to assign monuments to those people to show the antiquity of the monument. Another local name of the hill, Tiruppamalai, is evidently derived from the original name Tiruppanmalai and there are references of a figure of yakshi, Naganadi and a Jaina thirthankara. As per an inscription of Chola king Parantaka I, found in a structural temple in this village, it is suggested that in the first half of tenth century, this town was under the strong influence of the Jaina ascetics. 










Cave Temple – One of the largest cave excavations among the Mahendra style caves, this east facing cave is excavated at the foot of a large hillock. This cave is excavated about 4.5 feet above the ground level. There are two staircases, one on north and another on south; however these were not carved out of native rock. The front façade is supported on six pillars and two pilasters. This façade is carved little backward from the base. There seems to be no intention to carve dvarapalas as there is no space left on the sides beyond pilasters. The pillars are uniformly square from top to bottom. Pilasters are similar in the style as that of the pillars. There are curved corbels above the pillars and pilasters, another style mostly seen in Mahendra caves.







Behind this front row of pillars, there is another row of six pillars and two pilasters located half way between the back walls. These two rows thus form an ardha-mandapa and mukha-mandapa. This arrangement of two bays is also seen in many caves of Mahendravarman. There are seven niches carved out on the back wall of the cave. The niches are 5.5 feet by 2.5 feet in measurement with the depth of about 1 foot. All the cells are empty; however there is a sill in all the cells, perhaps to support a wooden or metal image. The side walls are left with square uncarved blocks, which suggest that the plan was to excavate these little deeper intended for a cell probably.