Places of interest in Tamilnadu

Trip to Mahabalipuram on December 5, 2007
Trimurti Mandapam

This cave temple is a three celled mandapam. There is no maha mandapam or ardha mandapam. All three shrines are on one common platform with independent steps leading to each garbagriham.

The first cell is dedicated to Brahma Sastha, the second to Siva and the third to Vishnu. Beside the Vishnu is a Durga panel.

The dwara-palakas in the first shrine are two rishis in three fourth profile with beard, their hair knotted above their heads. They are both holding a flower in their inner hands, while the outer hand rests on their hip. The sage on the left is holding a ladle in his left hand (the spoon used during yagam). The deity in the garbagriham is Lord Subramanya as Brahma Sastha instead of the usual four headed Brahma. He has four arms - the main right hand in abaya mudra, the main left hand on his hips and is wearing a crossed rudraksha malai on his chest.

The dwarapalakas in the Siva shrine are also seen in three-fourth profile with a slight smile. Their outer arm is resting on their hips. The one on the left is holding a mace in his inner arm. In the garbagriham, there is a carving of Siva on the wall and a lingam is installed in front of it, which could be a later addition. Siva has four arms. The main right hand is in abaya mudra, the main left hand is on his hips.

The dwara-palakas in the Vishnu shrine are also in three-fourth profile. On the rear wall of the garbagriha is a Vishnu idol. He has changu & chakra in his arms, while the main right arm is in abhaya mudra & the left on his hips.

In all three shrines, there are two ganas on either side of the Lord at the top and two devotees seated on either side on the floor. As a rare feature the ganas have been carved in the Vishnu shrine too.

There is a Durgai panel on the wall to the left of the Vishnu shrine - Vishnu Durgai sporting changu and chakram in the back arms. She is standing on Mahishaís severed head. Out of her eight arms, the main right arm is in abhaya mudra and the left is on her hip. She has weapons in the other 4 arms. The sthapathi, Mr.Umapathi pointed out the makara thoranam above Devi's head.

Makaram is the combination of animal forms Ė Elephant's trunk, tusk, monkey's eyes,crocodile posture (bhava), fish body, lion's legs, pig's ear and bunch of creepers (tail portion). This animal form is symmetrically represented on either side.

The roof of the Mandapam is more ornamental than most mandapams with the usual kudus and salas. There are several boulders lying in front of the mandapam and a water tank at a raised level just opposite the mandapam.

On the other side of this mandapam, is a beautiful carving of a group of elephants with a baby elephant playing under the adult. A damaged baby elephant can be seen between the adultís front legs and trunk. The head of a second elephant is visible at the back with its trunk outstretched. A monkey and a peacock are seen perched on ledges.

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