- May 21, 2021
🛕 Laguleesar Cave Temple is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at Arittapatti near Melur in Madurai District of Tamilnadu. Arittapatti is also called as Kalinjamalai and Thiruppinaiyanmalai. This rock-cut Siva temple is now under the protection of the ASI but it is still used for worship by the locals and is called Idaichchi Mandapam. This Temple is situated at the outskirts of Arittapatti.
🛕 Lakulisa was born in Gujarat, and when a little boy, was struck by illness and given up as dead. He was taken to the Ghats to be cremated, when he is supposed to have “come back to life”. He asked the people to leave him, and grew up in the Ghats, with special mystical and spiritual powers. His name could mean “Na-Kula-Isa” – a god with no Kula/ancestry. The popular meaning is that it stands for the lord with the club. Lakulisa then grows up to become the proponent of the Pasupatha dharma, a strongly ascetic, Saivite way of life.
🛕 He had four main disciples – Kushika, Gargya, Maitreya and Kaurusha. His disciples spread their dharma across ancient India. This Sect is very popular among Nepalis. The presence of this Lakulisa in Arittapatti indicates that his influence had spread so far south – in the 8th Century AD. The sect had shrunk and became restricted to Gujarat and the Himalayan region including Nepal by 15th Century AD.
🛕 The hillock which looks like a pack of rocks is steeped in 2300 years old history. On one side of the hill are natural Jain caves called Pandava Padukkai and on the other side, a rock-cut Siva temple. Pandava Padukkai has got nothing to do with the Pandavas of Mahabharatham. Yet people assume the stone beds might have been used by Pandavas during their exile. These are actually the beds used by Jain saints.
🛕 The Siva temple is a fine example of the early Pandya rock-cut temple architecture. This is a simple but beautiful edifice, belongs to the 7th – 8th century CE, has a garbhagriha and a front mandapa. Now the local people call this temple as Idaichchi mandapam. There are rectangular wall niches on either side of the sanctum entrance. Dvarapalas sculptures, embraced by Brahmakanta pilasters are seen in these wall niches. These Dvarapalas may be the later added structures.
🛕 The Siva Linga of this temple has been chiseled in the centre of the same rock. The bas-relief sculptures of the Vinayaka and Siva as Laguleesar adorn the two niches of the exterior wall of the front Mandapa. This is one among the rare Laguleesar sculptures found in Tamil Nadu. Another similar sculpture is found in Kudimallam near Vellore. There are several sects in Saivism and one of them is Lakulisa Pasupatham.
🛕 On the eastern face of the hill is a cavern with a drip-ledge cut into the outer face of the rock. On the brow of the cave is found a Brahmi inscription which has been dated to between the second and first century B.C. The inscription, engraved as a single line with 33 letters and running for 3.10 metres, reads as follows:
“ilanjiy vel mapparavan makan emayavan nalmuzhaukai kotupithavan”
🛕 It means, “Emayavan, son of Mapparavan, chief of Ilanji, has caused the carving of this auspicious cave.”
🛕 The Temple is situated on Melur – Alagar Kovil Route. The Temple is located at about 8 Kms from Melur, 14 Kms from Alagar Kovil Kallazhagar Temple, 5 Kms from Narasingampatti, 20 Kms from Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Terminus, 25 Kms from Madurai, 26 Kms from Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, 27 Kms from Madurai Railway Junction, 27 Kms from Madurai Periyar Bus Stand and 35 Kms from Madurai Airport.
Laguleesar Cave Temple,
Tamil Nadu – 625106.