- May 28, 2021
🛕 Singavaram is located in near Gingee town and is famous for a rock cut cave temple, known as Sri Ranganathesvara temple. This cave temple is taken as a Pallava cave temple by most of the scholars on basis of its architectural style. Scholar Dubreuil suggests that Singavaram could be Simhapura, the capital of Simhapuranadu. On the basis of the name similarity, this Simhapuranadu is assumed to be founded by Simhavishnu. He proposes that this cave temple could have been started by Simhavishnu, however after the finding of Mandagapattu inscription, it is very clear that Mahendravarman I was the first Pallava king to start this tradition. K R Srinivasan suggests that the association of Durga and Vishnu in same shrine shows similarities with few cave shrines of Mahabalipuram. Hence this cave temple could be assigned to Narasimhavarman II Mamalla or Parameshvaravarman I. Narasimhavarman II also had title Simhavishnu so this Simhapuranadu could have been founded by him as well. Whatever theory we accept here, the architecture and style puts this temple to the existing style during Mahendravarman I. Aagama followed here is Sri Vaikhanasa Agamam.
🛕 The 7th century Ranganatha Cave temple of Lord Ranganatha, the tutelary god of Raja Desingh is on a hill top with about 150 steps. It is a good specimen of South Indian type of rock cut shrine. The idol of Lord Ranganatha, in a reclining posture, measures 24 ft. in length which together with the inner sanctorum, is carved out of a single rock. It is said to be bigger than that of the idol in Srirangam. Like Thiruvananthapuram Ananthapadmanatha Swamy, the head, chest and leg portions of this Perumal have to be worshipped through 3 separate entrances. Mangalasasanam was done by Sri Ramanujar.
🛕 The rock-cut shrine of Singavaram, situated about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the fortress on a fifth hill called Singavaram hill. It is a unique Vishnu temple. The deity of the shrine is Ranganatha. Ranganatha is seen reclining on the serpent with his head turned to a side. The expression on his face is benign and charming. The Gingee Ranganatha is ranked as one of the most beautiful Vishnu idols.
🛕 The place where the Singavaram rock cut exists seems to have been originally a centre of Jainism. Several small and large Jain rock cuts and monoliths are found around the temple. Gingee, hence, has emerged as an important surviving link of the Tamil Jain tradition. Singavaram hill is visited both by Hindu and Jain pilgrims.
🛕 According to legend, it is the original image of Ranganatha from the famous Srirangam temple, which was taken away, from Srirangam and hidden in Gingee, for the sake of safety, during the plundering of Srirangam at the hands of the Muslim invader Malik Kafur. Ranganatha is said to have been the tutelary Lord of Gingee and the personal deity of Raja Desingh. There is an underground tunnel that connects the Rajagiri fortress with the temple and is supposed to have been used by Raja Desingh and his queen to visit the temple unobserved. The existence of the tunnel itself is an indicator of the authenticity of the image. The fact that the idol was hidden among the rocks in a discarded Jain rock cut cave and was being worshipped unobserved by the public is enough proof of the idol being a very ancient and important one.
🛕 This tunnel is supposed to actually connect two towns, the great and little Gingee, surrounded by a wall. This wall is three 3 miles (4.8 km) in circumference and encloses the two towns and five mountains of rugged rocks on the summit of which were built five strong forts. The fifth mountain is Singavaram hill – in addition to the four already mentioned forts, namely, Rajagiri, Krishnagiri, Chandrayan Durg and Chakkilli Durg.
🛕 According to E. Scott Waring, Great Gingee referred to the whole area including Singavaram, and little Gingee was very likely to be Gingee proper, i.e., the area covered by four other mountains. There were two separate towns known as Shiva Gingee (Siva Gingee) and Vishnu Gingee (Vishnu Gingee – the latter being regarded by him as a popular and flourishing town) surrounded by walls of considerable circumference. The court of Shiva Gingee was formed into a citadel with basements and battlements and consequently thinly inhabited; Vishnu Gingee was flourishing and the resort of a large number of pilgrims, hence it can with great probability be identified with Singavaram. A visit to Gingee would be incomplete without a visit to Singavaram to see the reclining Vishnu and the Jain rock cuts.
🛕 Singavaram is located about 41 km from Viluppuram and 4 km from Gingee and comes under Viluppuram district. From Chennai it would be around 162 km.
🛕 Demon king Hiranya Kashipu proclaimed a law that his subjects should worship only him and not any other Gods. Everybody obeyed except his own son Prahalada and opposed the order vehemently. The exasperated king used all the ways to eliminate his own son to establish his law. Lord Narayana (Perumal) destroyed the tyrant king, protected Prahalada and had him by his side. The temple is built on the philosophy that noble traits are not alien even to those born in a demon dynasty.
🛕 The idol is 14 feet long in a reclining form. It is believed that devotees of Perumal are not afraid of Yama, the Lord of death. We can also worship Prahalada, in the temple. On the rear wall of the sanctum sanctorum, Gandharvas (a community of the upper world known for their music skill), Brahmma on the naval of Lord Vishnu, Garuda, Madhu-Kaidaba, the demons destroyed by Vishnu grace the devotees. Consort Sri Bhoomidevi graces from the feet of the Lord. Prahalada near his knee and Lord’s discus grace the devotees.
🛕 The temple is on a hill. Lord graces devotees in a reclining form. Procession Perumal graces with Sri Devi and Bhoodevi. The temple speaks volumes of the skills of sculptors and architects. The temple has pillars in two rows and half pillars making the Ardha Mandap. The sanctum sanctorum is oblong in shape. Two pillars in the front space are square in shape with white flat forms in the middle where lotus flowers are carved.
🛕 A temple is noted for Sastiyappthapoorthi celebrations. Perumal is the family deity of King Desinghu Raja then ruling the region. Once, while preparing for a war, Desinghu came to the temple to worship Perumal. Perumal was not in favour of his war plans and turned his face against the king. We can have a look of this form today too. According to history, Desinghu only continued the march, defeated the enemies but died at the battlefield.
🛕 In Thirukkadaiyur, Lord Shiva destroyed Yama the lord of death. In Singavaram, Perumal faces south, the direction of Yama as if warning him from threatening his devotees of death. It is firmly believed that devotees of Perumal are not afraid of Yama.
🛕 Those completing 60, 70 and 80 years are advised to celebrate their birth days in this temple. Perumal has his consort Sri Mahalakshmi on his chest, keeping His feet facing north, the direction of Kubera, the lord of wealth. Those worshipping Perumal in this form will never have to face poverty in their lives.
🛕 Mother Ranganayaki shrine is just a little below the top hill level on a rock on the south. Sri Durgha graces from a rock.
🛕 There is a four pillar Mandapam at the steps leading to the temple. There are sculptures of conch, discus, Namam the Tilak of Sriman Narayana, His feet and Sri Hanuman in five forms. On the way to the hill is the Lakshmi Theertham spring and Sri Lakshmi temple.
🛕 This east facing cave temple has been extended and renovated many times since its creation. It is located high above a hill and can be reached via steps of flights. There is a mandapa created in front of the original cave which obscure the view of the cave in its full. The front façade of the cave is supported on two pillars and two pilasters, as seen in other cave temples of Mahendravarman I. The pillars are with cubical top and bottom parts with an octagonal shaft in between.
🛕 Nothing much can be said about the cornice and front parts of the cave due to later mandapa addition. The pilasters on the corners are like pillars, having cubical top and bottom with octagonal shaft in between, only difference is that they are still in antis. This feature is similar to the Mandagapattu cave temple. In the niches formed by pilasters are placed dvarpalas, which are very similar to Thalavanur dvarpalas. Behind the front row of the pillars and pilasters is another row of two pillars and pilasters.
🛕 Pilasters in this row are uniform from top to bottom, however pillars are similar to the front row.
🛕 Most of the faces of the pillars front and back are shown with full lotus medallion similar to Thalavanur. The two rows of the pillars separate mukha-mandapa and ardha-mandapa within the cave shrine. From the style of pillars forming three bays and two rows of the pillars, this cave can be assigned to Mahendravarman I.
🛕 On the back wall of the shrine is a magnificent image of Vishnu as Anantashayana, which covers almost the whole wall. Vishnu is shown reclining on the coil of Sesha, whose five hoods are shown above the head of Vishnu such as to form a shade. Brahma, seated on a lotus, is shown issuing out of Vishnu’s naval. Vishnu’s left hand is in kataka mudra while the right hand is patting the coil of Sesha. Brahma is shown with four heads, three visible, and four hands.
🛕 In his upper hands he is holding a akshamala and a vessel, while one lower hand is in vyakhyana mudra and another hand is resting on his thighs. On right of Brahma is shown a flying gana, who could be one of ayudha-purusha, personified weapon, of Vishnu. His one hand is raised above, holding something, while another hand is pointing in the direction of the legs of Vishnu, where two demons are shown standing. On immediate left of Brahma is standing Garuda. His left hand is raised in suchi mudra, such as warning the demons, while his right hand is on his waist. His wings are shown behind his body.
🛕 On Garuda’s left are shown two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha. One of them is holding a club while his other hand is stretched in the direction towards Vishnu, in suchi mudra. Another one is also holding his club but the club is shown resting over his thigh. It seems that both of them are planning how to attack over Vishnu. Seeing them planning and as Vishnu was sleeping, so Garuda is shown warning those demons.
🛕 In meantime Sesha also sees the demons approaching so he spits fire from his mouth to move them away. However later Sesha realized that he has not taken permission from Vishnu hence he is ashamed over his act. However Vishnu taps his coil in order to show his approval for his act of spitting fire to move away the demons. The best description of fire and movement of the demons is depicted in Anantashayana panel of Thirumayam. Below the coil of Sesha, on southern side, are shown four figures sitting on ground. Three figures are shown wearing kirita-makuta and raising a hand in adoration. The fourth figure is of Bhu-Devi, who is shown near the feet of Vishnu. This image has been redone many times since the original image of Pallavas hence the original image attributes is not very much clear.
🛕 There is a niche beyond the dvarapala niche on northern end. Durga is shown in this niche, standing intribhanga posture over a buffalo head. This buffalo head represents demon Mahishasura, hence this mudra of Durga is perhaps just after slaying the demon. She has four arms; in upper right hand is Prayoga chakra (discus) while upper right hand is holding a sankha (conch). Lower hands are resting on thigh and waist. She is shown with minimal ornaments, a characteristic feature of Pallava art. There are two devotees shown kneeling on the ground.
🛕 Devotee on viewer’s left is shown piercing his palm/wrist with a knife in order to offer his blood to the goddess. More violent depiction of the same can be observed in Draupadi Ratha, Mahabalipuram, of this sacrifice where the devotee is shown offering his head to the goddess. Another devotee is shown with one hand in kataka mudra, to hold a flower, while another hand is on his waist.
🛕 There are no inscriptions found in this cave shrine. There are few later inscriptions on the extended mandapa but these seem not to be of much importance.
🛕 The temple is open from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.
🛕 Those completing 60 years of age celebrate Sashti Apthapoorthi in the temple. Devotees offer Thirumanjanam and Vastras to Perumal.
🛕 Perumal moves to Puducherry to grace the devotees on Masi Magam day (February-March). Special pujas are performed on Vaikunda Ekadasi day in December-January.
🛕 Singavaram is 4 km from Gingee on the Mel Malayanur Road. Bus facility is available from Gingee. Singavaram is located about 41 km from Viluppuram and 4 km from Gingee and comes under Viluppuram district.
🛕 From Chennai it would be around 162 km. This is a small village hence you might not get proper and regular transport, so arrange a taxi from whichever town you plan to visit here.
Sri Singavaram Perumal Temple,
Singavaram, Villupuram district,
Phone: +91- 94432 85923.
Phone: +91 – 9952449661,