Chennai: Mahendravadi, known for the famous Vishnu cave temple, may attract heritage buffs and energetic visitors keen on exploring the scenic splendour and the exquisite rock carvings.
A research scholar, who went on a scholastic expedition, stumbled upon a few Pallava grantha letters inscribed on a huge boulder near the main cave temple of Mahendravadi in Arakonam taluk, about 56 km from Kancheepuram near here. The inscription is said to belong to the 7th century AD.
The cave temple is the only such shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the area and is believed to have been constructed by Mahendravarman I (600-630 CE). The east-facing cave temple was excavated on a monolithic boulder. Its front façade is propped by two cubical pillars with octagonal intermediate portion. The cave temple has two rows of pillars and pilasters. As per the inscription found at the place, the temple is called as Mahendra Vishnu Graha.
The earliest known inscription from this place explains that this cave temple was constructed by Gunabhara (one of the titles of Mahendravarman I) at Mahendrapura on the banks of Mahendra tataka. “This was the only inscription discovered till now. When I recently visited Mahendravadi for my thesis research, I chanced to find few Pallava grantha letters inscribed on the adjacent boulder of the rock-cut cave monument,” said S. Deepika, Ph.D research scholar in archaeology, State Archaeology Department.
Immediately, she informed her doctoral guide Dr S. Vasanthi, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, State Archaeology Department, about the traces of Pallava grantha. After being advised to record the inscriptions by using estempages to enable easy reading of the letters, a total of 13 letters – seven in the first line and six in the second row - became visible.
“The first line ends with ‘chita’ therefore there are possibilities that it may be a biruda of Mahendravarman I. The two words are not decipherable because of corrosion and nevertheless it can be said for sure that this Pallava grantha inscription belongs to the 7th century AD,” said Deepika....