sithannavasal caves art



This former residence of the Jains dating from the 2nd century B.C. is approximately 16 km from Pudukkottai . The Rock-cut cave temple here has beautiful frescoes painted in natural colors as in Ajanta is trying hard. The natural cave with beds of stone in which the Jain monks have sought refuge for meditation. This cave contains lithic record (Brahimi Report Script of the 2nd century B.C. ).  There are a few sculptures of Jain Thirthanharas in the ardhamandapam and the inner sanctum of the temple cave. The ceiling of the ardhamandapam contains frescoes of the 9e Centaur A.D. the cave temple is said have been excavated in 9th century A.D. , and it is a pandya creation and s.
Sittannavasal is one of the oldest housing rights in the district and is rich in megalithic sites. The cave temple and other sites are under the control of archaeological survey of India. Sittanavasal rock-cut cave is located on prominent rock which rises up to 70 m high on the surrounding plain. This site is very rich with superb archaeological monuments. The name "Sittanavasal" has several explanations. One says that it is a distorted version of "chir-ran-nal-SAV-April" which means in the Tamil language "the place of residence of the great saints".  Another said that it was a suburb of Annalvayil (chiru-anal intercourse-vaayil - "small Annalvayil".
The painted rock-cut temple is newcomer in the ancient Jain center of Sittanavasal. To the south, on the top of the hill, there is another, natural shelter known as Eladipattam (also Ezhadippattam).  He has served as a Jain housing since the 1st century before Jesus-CHRIST . Eladipattam has obtained its name of seven holes cut in the rock - they serve as follows to fit the housing. The inside of this cave there is ten-seven polished stone berths aligned in rows, each with a raised part - probably these beds were of jains with "pierre pillows".
The largest of these beds ascetic contains the inscription in script Brahimi Report, Tamil language of the 1st century before Jesus-CHRIST . Some more inscriptions in Tami language are of much later - 8th century AD. These inscriptions name beggars - monks, for example - Tolakunrattu Kadavulan, Tirunillan, Tiruppuranan, Tittaicbaranan, Sri Purrnacandlan, Nityakaran Pattakali. Probably these people have spent their lives in isolation in this hill. Eladipattam has served as a site of very severe penance - kayotsarga (meditation posture in standing until the salvation) and sallekhana (fasting until death).  This stone housing has continued to be the "Holy Sramana Abode" until the 7th - 8th century AD.
the famous paintings are located in later rock-cut temple named Arivar-Koil (temple of the Arhats) in the north-west side of the rock. This temple has been carved into a rock in 7th - 9th c. AD. Facade of the temple is simple, with four rock-cut columns and a pilaster to the right. This construction is new, 20th century, constructed using the details of other monuments of architecture. Temple is composed of polesitter - and hall - Ardhaoui mandapam (Ardhamandapam) and a small cell - sanctum sanctorum (garbha griham) - at the level of the rear wall. It seems to me that in Pandya times there was also adds another forepart - mukha mandapam, which later collapsed.
Polesitter contains the inscription on the right side - Tamil inscription with 17 lines. He tells Jain Ilan-Gautaman who repaired or renovated the Ardhaoui-mandapam during the reign of king Srimaran-Srivallabhan (815 - 862 AD).
After several steps, it goes through two columns and enters the Ardhaoui mandapam. It is 7 m wide and 2.3 m deep. Ceiling is approximately 2.6 m high. Left wall of this room contains images of Parsvanatha ( 23e Thirtankara), right wall - image of acharya - Jain teacher. At the level of the rear wall, after several steps, we reached another room - garbha griham. Hall contains the main treasure of this monument - ancient paintings on the ceilings and in the upper part of the columns. Paintings are also on the ceiling of garbha griham.
Initially all the inside of the temple, whose sculptures, has been; and painted. Unfortunately, the paintings on the walls were lost. Temple and the paintings of it has been noticed at the beginning of the 20th century by S. Radhakrishna Iyer, local historian and he described this wonderful discovery in a book devoted to the interesting sites of its region. Wider scientific community learned well to frescoes later, after 1920.
Most frescoes paintings are made in Pandyan period - 9th century AD.
Central and the most important drawing is a pond of unfolding lotuses as bases, flowers in the pond are collected by the monks, ducks, swans, fish and animals of the pond. This scene shows Samava-sarana - important scene of Jain religion. Samava-sarvana is special, beautiful courtroom or Tirthankaras (large released souls of Jain religion) books sermons after they reached realization (kevala-gnana).  The bulls, elephants, many Apsaras emerging out and gods gathered in this hearing room to attend this grand theater.
Other paintings are floral patterns.
Tops of columns contain drawings drawings of dance of women (many Apsaras emerging out) with lotus. One of the pillars also contains a drawing of torque. These drawings were made of an exceptional talent. South pillar contains drawings of the king and queen with umbrella on them. It is likely that the colors were originally vivid, now they are more gray. The technique of drawing shows well developed in art nouveau style India has a long tradition of painting on rock with many Neolithic and later paintings in natural caves. The walls of Sittanavasal cave are not very even and therefore the plaster has different thickness - from 1 to 8 mm. First layer of plaster contains coarse sand, the second is more than fine - this is similar to the technique of european frescoes. Pigment was mixed with lime and possibly of the eraser (in the black pigment) as well. Color has been placed on the dry plaster. It has acceded to the plaster extremely well - which persist more than 1000 years. Medieval artists had deep knowledge (which is lost now) on the subject of natural pigments - color has not bleach when mixed with lime and very well withstood the test of time. Artists in Sittanavasal have used black, green, yellow, orange, blue and white pigments.
Moist air in the cave has facilitated the growth of slime composed of algae and lichens - throughout the centuries he was wearing on the paintings. This mud has had to be mechanically removed - with vigorous brushing 1942 (Shri S. Paramasivan, K. R. Srinivasan) - paintings fortunately resisted well.
Garbha griham
Garbha griham is small house square, 3 m wide and deep, with 2.3 m high ceiling. Rear Wall sculpted contains images of three figures - possibly two Thirtankaras and Acharya. On the ceiling it is carved a wheel - Dharma chakra - wheel of the law. Ceiling also contains frescoes - carpet design complex and also a scene of Samava-sarvana lotus pond. The small shrine is exceptional, unique echo effect: if one is "Humming" ohmmm murmur, the room starts in echo of sound frequencies. This effect is not what is happening if a humming sound is audible.
Surrounding Area
Sittanavasal is one of the important ancient Jain center in this region of India and there are many more interesting monuments of Jains, and also Hindus. Some are listed below: south of Arivar-Koil y are Tamil inscriptions of 7th - 13th century AD. Written Sources mention 7 inscriptions, today 2 could be fouond. The walls of the cliff to the temple are adorned with a few carved Jain Thirtankaras. At the front of the Arivar-Koil in the rock floor there are several holes - approximately 15 cm wide and 20 cm deep. Perhaps these have been used to grind the pigments. Between Eladipattam and Arivar-Koil , on the eastern slope of rock it is exciting monument - Navach-chunai (Jambunatha's Cave), small rock-cut temple submerged in a small lake. Some skills in climbing are required to achieve it. Near the Tarn it grows older tree landed at Jamba and was en route. It is a little late Shiva temple with a lingam in center. Sometimes, for the worship of the temple, the water is withdrawn from the lake. To the west of the hill there is a shrine of village deities including the beautiful horses in terracotta. There are a lot more ancient monuments around the hill the oldest past - megalithic funerary urns, stone circles, cairns, dolmens, cists of the Iron Age, called mudu-deployed-thaazhi. These monuments are located mainly in the south-west of Parliament Hill.


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