To be exact it should be kunnathoor. Could call it as the only good thing that i did during this vacation, which was destroyed by Diablo, lord of destruction. Coming back to the trip, once again should thank Prabhu anna for interacting with history professor Dr.Venkataraman and inviting us for the trip. This time i thought i went prepared with a scribble pad and a pen which doesn not write!!! So it was once again had to rely on my memory, which i know is a bad option. Anyway will try to list whatever i remember.
Varichiyur is small village near Madurai, around 10-15KM from here. There were two rock cut temples built by Pandiyas around 790AD. Here are a few points gathered from Dr.V's talk.
* Udayagiri temple will be built always facing the east, usually built for the new king who comes to power.
* As usual, there is a lingam that is scooped out of a single rock.
* There are two dwarapalakas and they have two hands, which means they are a bit older. Later the dwarapalakas, were sculpted with four hands to show that they are not common men.
* Regarding Nandi, looks like the worship of Nandi or the bull started at around 1500BC.
* There is a statue of standing Vinayagar in the front of the temple. Looks like this is supposed to be rare. It is a customary to sculpt a Murugan statue opposite to it. This is missing here. So historians feel that the temple is incomplete.
* Dr.V also talked about the lingam. The lingam is built as a long shaft. I have no clue on how they arrived at the conclusion, but looks the lingam represented Brahma, lord of creation, Vishnu, who protects and Shiva.
* And regarding the dravidians and Aryans, initially people from Persia, came and settled in India and they are the dravidians. Later, people from Europe, drove the aryans to the south and settled in northern part of India, and they are Aryans.
* Later the different sects were formed, where Brahma was ignored and the feminine nature was given importance, forming the sakthi cult.
There is another temple in the west, called asthagiri. So the sun rises in the east, where we have the udayagiri. The whole hill is also considered as a huge lingam. So the sun moves from east to west, having a view of the lingam, and in the west, we have the asthagiri. Asthagiri is built for the old king and the difference is that, it has a arthamandapaa which is a empty space for the king to sit and pray. So a temple can have a Mahamandapaa where the people gather, arthamandapaa for the old king and the sanctum sanctorum or karbagrihaa where the god resides.
After that we visited another rockcut cave in the same hills. This was supposed to be a place where the buddists or jain monks resided. There is also a long cave inside that. One has to crawl if he wants to continue the journey into the cave. Looks like people ventured into the cave forty fifty years ago and from their words, it is believed that there is larger space inside the cave, where around 20 people can sit. He explained a bit about the inscriptions there, which he had also deciphered.
Everytime i hear his lecture about the idols, my belief that it was nature that was worshipped as god by men doubles and the athiestic feeling increases, and free time is wasted thinking about it.
Would suggest referring to Prabhu anna's blog entry for further details. He was the one who had written some points from what Dr.V said, so might have accurate and missed out details of this post.
Anyway altogether it was a good trip, informative and the only reason i woke up at 5.00 during two weeks of my vacation.