Mogalrajapuram Caves – Vijayawada

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About Mogalrajapuram Caves

The Mogalrajapuram Caves are five rock-cut cave temple groups located in different parts of Vijayawada, dedicated to Lord Shiva, they were excavated during the Eastern Chalukya reign or the Vishnukundins reign.  They are generally dated to about the 7th-century, after the Akkanna Madanna Caves. They are simple and small, yet the artwork and iconography are more sophisticated than Akkanna Madanna Caves.

These include Nataraja, Ganesh, and Ardhanadheswara swamy. They are generally numbered as Cave I through V, with Mogalrajapuram Cave II being the most architecturally and iconographically evolved of the five. It is a centrally protected monument of national importance and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Mogalrajapuram consists of five excavations. Some of them look similar at a glance but differ in the architectural elements and details.

Cave I: Cave I has a simple facade with two pillars and two pilasters. Between these, above each bay, the facade has a notch. The pillars are square, surmounted by an uttira with bhuta-Gana decoration. The kapota exterior merges into the ceiling. The interior is more sophisticated and of a square plan. It consists of three mandapas – mukha-mandapa, maha-mandapa and aardha-mandapa . Each mandapa has its own vajana frame, with ganas and hamsa malavahakas motifs.

The single sanctum is on a faux-jagati carved from the rock. In front are profiles of two Shaiva Dvarapalakas(Dindi and Bundi), deliberately mutilated and gouged out. Their elegant Kati-vastras can be traced, suggestive of the clothing popular around the 7th-century. Their profile is similar to those found in Pallava and Pandyan rock-cut monuments.

Cave II: Mogalrajapuram Cave II outer artwork, The Cave II is on the south side of the Shivalayam hill in Vijayawada, and is the most evolved of five Mogalrajapuram caves. It has a more elaborate frontcourt that was created by cutting out about 9 meters of rock. The facade consists of two pillars and two pilasters. Inside is a rectangular mandapa supported by four pillars and two pilasters. The mandapa leads to three sanctums.

The front is flanked by two  Dvarapalakas(Dindi and Bundi) (damaged). They are in tribhanga-pose, both equipped with Shaiva motifs. Between them are two pillars, square at their ends and octagonal between. Three gavaskas decorate the top of the facade. The nasika kudus, vyalamukhas and sakti-dvaja artwork can readily traced. The entablatures here include playful elephants, lions, bulls, and mythical fused animals. Inside the damaged Stambha Torana, at the top of the rock face is a Tandava Shiva.

It is damaged, but three items can be identified – the Dhamaru, the Parasu, and Trisula. A notable aspect of this dancing Shiva and Naga is that it reflects the Odisha tradition; it was likely carved by a Shilp in from Odisha. This iconic style of Nataraja becomes a standard relief on the Sukanasi or the ceiling in the Eastern Chalukyan temples of later times.

The facade pillars are notable for their upper shadurams with 7th-century Vaishnava artwork. In particular, one shows Krishna with Putana legend, another shows Krishna with Kuvalayapida elephant legend, while a third shown Kaliya-Vamana legend of Krishna. Thus, like other parts of India, Chalukyan artists were reverential including Shaiva and Vaishnava themes within the same time before the 7th-century.

The steps between the pillars lead into the mandapa inside. It is small, yet suffices for few families of devotees inside the temple. The three sanctums are dedicated to the Hindu trinity – Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. The central sanctum is provided with a circular monolithic linga-pitha. The statues of Brahma and Vishnu are missing.

On the western wall is a niche, likely a secondary shrine for an unknown deity. This is now empty. Outside, however, near one of the Dvarapalaka is a niche where the profile of a valampuri Ganesha can be traced. He has a broken tusk in one of his hands and of course, a bowl of sweet modaka in another.

Cave III and IV: They are close to each other, on the southern side of the same rocky hill. Both have a facade with two pillars flanked by two pilasters and a square sanctum. Cave III is larger of the two, with auxiliary shrines to the main rock-cut temple. Cave III is notable for the traces of Durga Mahisasuramardini bas-relief in the sanctum, though it is gouged out and damaged. Cave IV, in contrast, has a square pitha for a Shiva linga (lost), as well as with niches with Padma-pitha of a four-armed Vishnu to the north and a four-armed Brahma to the south.

Cave V: It’s on the north side of the same hill that contains Cave III and IV. Cave V is unfinished, three shrines excavation. It is about 26.5 feet by 5.5 feet in size, with three square sanctums of 7.5 feet wide each. The mandapa pillars are square in their cross-section and plain. The pilasters have a series of animal friezes. Eight of these can be traced, the rest have been gouged out. The floor of this cave is restored with a thin layer of plaster poured in modern times.

Mogalrajapuram Caves

Timings to visit Mogalrajapuram Caves

09:00 AM – 05:30 PM

Duration to visit Mogalrajapuram Caves

1 – 2 hours

How to Reach Mogalrajapuram Caves

By Air: Vijayawada International Airport – 19.6 km

By Train: Vijayawada railway station – 4.7 km,

By Bus: Vijayawada – 4 km

Address

Siddhartha College Rd, Moghalrajpuram, Christurajupuram, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, 520010, India.

Also Read Place To Visit In And Around In Krishna District

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