It is famous for rock cut shrines and cave temples carved out of red sandstone outcrop surrounded by Lake Agastya. The rocks out of which 4 caves are carved out are huge and has rich deep hue of red. The giant rocks are good 100 meters tall. The rich red hue of the sandstone looks more stunning and charming in the evening light.
Facing the rock cut shrines is the Agastyamuni lake which is serene and enhances the beauty of the place. The first cave temple is dedicated to Shiva and is probably the oldest. The next 2 cave temples are Vishnu temples while the forth one is the Jain temple.
Cave temple planning :It is pretty simple. The entrance is a hall/verendah called as mukha mantapa, with numerous pillars with exquisite carvings on the walls and on the ceilings. It leads to main hall - maha mandapa and then to the shrine; the sanctum sanctorum which is the garbagruha
The atmosphere was awesome, perfect place for the sages t meditate; seems that was why these temples are located high above the cliffs. But it was crowded that day and I could not appreciate the architecture and beauty as much as I would have loved to. People were jostling and pushing and were very keen to pose standing near to the carvings. No one bothered to notice the details; no one wanted to know the story behind those carvings; neither did they realize the treasure their ancestors left them.
Only thing that went in their mind was to have their faces captured in all the photos and taunt the monkeys. I could not experience the richness; I did not get a chance to stand there still and appreciate the art. :-(
Let me get straight to few pictures.
Path leading to the temples. The sandstone cliff is huge and massive. The atmosphere is cool and breezy.
First cave temple dedicated to Shiva. This one is the Nataraja with 18 arms which can yield 81 mudras in combination.
Sandstone cliff overlooking the cave temples.
One distinctive style is the two in one figurines. An elephant as seen from left and an ox as seen from right. The two heads have been carved in such way.
The second cave temple.
The second and third temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu's various avatars are sculpted on the walls.
An intricate carvings on the ceiling.
One more...fish wheel.
Vishnu with a serpent.
Vishnu as Trivikrama
These temples were inhabited by munis and sadhus. They had lot of time for prayer and play.
The lower walls of the temple
The third Vishnu temple
The forth temple - Jain temple. Sculptures of Tirthankaras can be found here
Tirthankara Parshavnatha with a serpent at his feet.
The evening was perfect. It was a surreal but true- red sandstone cliffs with a lake.
Lake Agastya. The lake gets its name from Vatapi legend of Ramayan and takes its name after Sage Agastya. Also seen on the banks of the lake is the Bhootnath group of temples.
The moon was early that day. The twilight was beautiful and beyond words.