An ancient Tamil Śramaṇa complex of caves from the 2ndcentury, Sittanavasal Cave is a rock-cut monastery situated in Sittanavasal village in the Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu.This historical site is situated on a hilltop in the Pudukkottai district and is renowned for its unique architecture, vibrant frescoes, and sculptures that date back to the 7thcentury. The name Sittanavasal is derivedfrom Sit-tan-na-va-yil, a Tamil word that means "the abode of great saints". The cave is believed to have been a Jain monastery and is considered to be one of the most important and well-preserved examples of Jain art and architecture in South India. Thisrock-cut monastery iscreated by Tamil Śramaṇa and is called the Arivar Koil. Thesecaves have been decorated with murals painted with vegetable and mineral dyes and thepaintings have been created by applying colors over a thin wet surface of lime plaster. Comparatively this Sittanavasal Cave is a less appreciated cave, although because of its great significance, the Archaeological Survey of India has listed Sittanavasal Cave in the list of ‘Adarsh Smarak Monument’.The Sittanavasal Cave is a significant attraction for tourists and historians alike, providing a glimpse into India's rich cultural heritage.
The Sittanavasal Cave is located in a small village named Sittanavasal in the Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu. The cave is situated on the hilltop located 54 km from the city of Trichy and nearly 7 km from Sittanavasal town.The geographic coordinates of Sittanavasal Cave are10.7628° N, and 78.6117° E.
The Sittanavasal village is dated backfromthe 1st century BC to the 10th century AD, at the time when Jainism was expanding, while the Sittanavasal Temple cavecame into existenceduring therein of Pallava King Mahendravarman I (580–630 AD),antecedent to his conversion from Jainism to Hinduism as a Shaivite. However, according to an inscription Sittanavasal Cave was renovatedamid the rule ofa Pandyan king. The Sramaṇa beds located on the hilltopareassociatedwith the Jain-era pilgrimage center which lasted till the 9thcentury AD.
The Sittanavasal Cave came to light because of the two publications done in the 20th century. One was ‘General History of the Pudukkottai State’ by S. Radhakrishna Iyer in 1916, and another was ‘Monograph on Sittannavasal’ written by Jouveau-Dubreuil and Gopinatha Rao, in 1920. These two books played a vital role in attracting archaeologists from all over the world to this ancient Sittanavasal Cave. The maintenance and cleaning of the cave’s paintings were started by Dr. S. Paramasivan and K. R. Srinivasan in 1942. Today, Sittanavasal Cave has been maintained and administered by the Archaeological Survey of India as a ticketed monument
Planted on the western side of the central part of a hill,Sittanavasal Cave is an ancient rock-cut cave, located in the Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu. The temple is known for its beautiful architecture, intricate carvings, and stunning frescoes painted on the walls of the caves. The cave is situated on a hill and can be accessed by climbing a flight of stairs. The caves are cut into the rock face and feature complex carvings and sculptures.
The cave temple is relatively small in size, with a height of around 18 feet and a width of around 25 feet. The interior of the cave is divided into three parts: the front chamber, the middle chamber, and the sanctum. The front chamber is the largest and is supported by four pillars. The middle chamber is smaller and features a raised platform where the devotees can sit and meditate. The sanctum is the smallest chamber and is where the main deity of the temple is placed.One of the most notable features of the Sittanavasal Cave temple is the beautiful frescoes painted on the walls of the cave. The frescoes date back to the 7th century and portray various scenes from the life of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism. The paintings are executed in vibrant colors and intricate designs, and showcase the artistic skills of the ancient craftsmen. The frescoes also depict various other deities and celestial beings, including Yakshas and Yakshinis.The Sittanavasal Cavetemple also features various sculpturesincluding the Jain Tirthankaras and other deities. The carvings are executed in stone and reflect various stories from the life of the Tirthankaras, including their birth, enlightenment, and nirvana. The sculptures are highly detailed and showcase the skills of the ancient sculptors. The architectural style of Sittanavasal Cave is a testament to the skills and craftsmanship of the ancient Indian artisans.
- Pudukottai Palace
: The Pudukottai Palace, also known as the Rajagopala Vilasam Palace, is located in the city of Pudukkottai, about 25 kilometers from Sittanavasal Cave. Built during the early 20th century Pudukottai Palacefeatures a blend of Indian and European architectural styles.
- Thirumayam Fort
: Thirumayam Fort is located in the town of Thirumayam, at a distance of about 35 km from Sittanavasal Cave. Constructedin 1687 by Vijaya Raghunatha Sethupathi, the Raja of Ramnad,and features impressive stone carvings and architecture.
- Kudumiyanmalai Temple
: Kudumiyanmalai Temple is located in the town of Kudumiyanmalai, about 18 kilometers from Sittanavasal Cave. The temple dates back to the 9thcentury and isliving proof of ancient art and culture.
- Saraswathi Mahal Library
: The Saraswathi Mahal Library is located in the city of Thanjavur, about 76km from Sittanavasal Cave. Also known as Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji's Saraswathi Mahal Library, Saraswathi Mahal Library was established in the 16thcentury and is known for its collection of rare manuscripts and palm-leaf manuscripts written in Tamil and Sanskrit. It is one of the oldest Libraries in Asia.
- Brihadeeswarar Temple
: The Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in the city of Thanjavur, about 75 kilometers from Sittanavasal Cave. Located on the banks of the Cauvery River, it is a ShaiviteHindu temple built in a Chola architectural style.Locally known as Thanjai Periya Kovil or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the largest and most famous temples in India.
- Swamimalai Temple
: Situated in the town of Swamimalai, Swamimalai Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan and is known for its unique architecture and sculptures.
- Aiyarappar Temple
: Aiyarappar Temple is located in the town of Thiruvaiyaru, about 90 kilometers from Sittanavasal Cave. Devoted to Lord Shiva, the temple is known as Dakshina Kailasham (Kailash of the South) and is the place whereNandi (the spiritual bull of lord Shiva) was born and became the mount for Shiva.
- Sangam Hotel, Trichy: A luxury hotel in Trichy,Sangam Hotel is located at a distance of 57 km from Sittanavasal Cave. The hotel features many modern amenities including a lavish rooftop restaurant and an outdoor pool.
- Grand Arcadia Hotel:Grand Arcadia Hotel is a modern hotel located in the heart of Trichy, around 57 km from Sittanavasal Cave. Situated on the banks of Cauvery, The hotel features contemporary rooms, a restaurant, and a rooftop bar.
- Hotel Royal Sathyam:A Comfy hotel in Thanjavur, Hotel Royal Sathyam is situated at a distance of around 53 km from Sittanavasal Cave. The hotel features comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a well-equippedfitness center.
- Hotel Gnanam:A mid-range hotel in Thanjavur, Hotel Gnanam is located at a distance of 80 km from Sittanavasal Cave. The hotel features spacious and comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a fitness center.
- Raya's Grand:A mid-range hotel located in Thanjavur, Raya's Grand Hotel features comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a rooftop pool. It also features a spa, offering guests the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate.
- Sree Ariya Bhavan: Sree Ariya Bhavan is a vegetarian restaurant located in Pudukkottai, around 74km from Sittanavasal Cave. The restaurant is known for its South Indian cuisine, including dosas, idlis, and vadas.
- Ariyaa's Kitchen:Ariyaa's Kitchen is a casual dining restaurant located in Pudukkottai, around 16 km from Sittanavasal Cave. The restaurant serves a wide range of Indian and Chinese dishes, including biryanis, noodles, and fried rice.
- Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant:Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant is a popular chain restaurant located in Trichy, around 50 km from Sittanavasal Cave. The restaurant is known for its authentic Chettinad cuisine, including spicy non-vegetarian dishes.
- Banana Leaf Multi Cuisine Restaurant:A casual dining restaurant in Thanjavur, Banana Leaf Multi Cuisine Restaurant is located at a distance of around 70 km from Sittanavasal Cave. The restaurant serves a variety of Indian and Chinese dishes, including biryanis, noodles, and curries.
- Kurinji Restaurant:A vegetarian restaurant located in Thanjavur, around 71 km from Sittanavasal Cave,Kurinji Restaurantrestaurant is known for its authentic South Indian cuisine, including dosas, idlis, and vadas.
How To Reach
- By air: The nearest airport to Sittanavasal cave is the Tiruchirappalli International Airport, which is about 70 km away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Pudukkottai, and then proceed to Sittanavasal cave. There are also several flights available from major cities in India to Tiruchirappalli.
- By train: The nearest railway station to Sittanavasal cave is Pudukkottai Railway Station, which is about 22 km away. Pudukkottai is well-connected to major cities in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India. Once you reach Pudukkottai, you can hire a taxi or take a local bus to reach Sittanavasal cave.
- By road: Sittanavasal cave is situated on the Trichy-Pudukkottai highway and is easily accessible by road. You can take a bus or drive from Trichy or Pudukkottai to reach Sittanavasal cave. There are also several private and state-run buses available from major cities in Tamil Nadu to Pudukkottai.