Thirunandikarai Cave Temple

Thirunandikarai Cave Temple

Saivite Temples, Kanyakumari District


Shiva, facing east



Other Deities


Thirunandikarai Cave Temple is a simple Pandya style cave temple excavated at the base of a hillock facing south. A flight of stone cut steps leads to this ancient rock cut temple. The facade has two pillars in the middle and two pilasters at the corners. The front facade has three openings which lead into the Mukha Mantapa which measures 0.86 m in the north-south, 3.28 m in the east-west directions and 2.23 m in height. There are four stone inscriptions here, one each on either side of the facade and two in the pillars. Inside, to the left is a east facing square cell 2.26 meters on the sides and 2.17 meters in height. Inside this cell is the Shivalingam which has a square Aavudayar and stands about a meter tall from the floor. On the northern walls of the Mantapam are some Mural paintings of Mahapurusha, Elephant and Palace scenes. This Mural represents the early phase of Kerala Mural Art. On the western face of the Mukha Mantapam is carved an image of Ganesha

Holy Water (Theertham) – No information

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – No information


Thirunandikarai Cave Temple was excavated by the Ay Ruler Vikramaditya Varaguna in the 9th Century CE. The inscriptions here in Vattezhuthu and ancient Tamil (Reference – Travancore Archaeological Series (T. A. S.) Vol. III) are as below:

The inscription, dated in the 18th regnal year of Rajaraja Chola I found on the western cave wall, registers the gift of Muttom, the village in Valluva-nadu. The gift was made for the celebration of a festival for Mahadeva of Tirunandikarai and also for ablution of the deity in the river, on the Satabhisha, star day in the Tamil month Aippasi, (October – November) in the year 1003 A.D, being the birthday of the king. Records a provision made by the king for supply of one Nazhi measure ghee every day for lighting the perpetual lamp in the name of Rajaraja Chola I in the temple.

The inscription on the eastern wall records gift of nine buffalo for the provision of burning a perpetual lamp with one uri measure ghee each day for Tirunandikarai Lord by Ainurruva Mutharaiyan alias Sithakutti Ambi of Veikottumalai under Nanjilnadu and the buffalo were handed-over to Idayarmangalavan Pavithiran, an official serving under the village elders. The inscription commences with these words ‘the year of annihilation weaponry in Karaikanda Eswaram refering the date of inscription.

(According to Gopinatha Rao, the temple ‘Karaikanda Eswaram’ is the saivite temple located near Katikaipattinam in Eranial taluk. The inscription was inscribed in an year when the Chera war-ships were destroyed in Karaikanda Eswaram.)

Inscription on a pillar, whose date assignable to eight century A.D., records the gift of ‘Ur’ (village). For this purpose one Dhaliyazhavan along with the ‘elders’ of Tirunandikarai assembled in Kurunthambakkam. The assembly converted the Ur’s name into Sri Nandimangalam and gifted to one Nambi Ganapathi for purposes of mid-night offerings to the Lord of the temple. The four boundaries are cited for the village under gift and include a river (name not known), Nandhi river, Mudukonur and Pakkamangalam.

The Inscription on another pillar records the gift of land by Mangalacheri Narayanan Sivakaran to Tiruvallavazh Mahadevar of Tirunandikarai. The inscription lists out the land pieces. Resolved the wages to be issued from the land produce accrued from the above land: four measures to Santhipuram, five measures to Uvachar (category of temple staff), five measures to Udayar (category of temple staff) and cleaning staff as well as for puja rituals, The perpetual lamps were lit using 60 measures of ghee from the remaining land produce.


No information


Thirunandikarai Cave Temple is 4 kilometers north of Kulasekaram in the Pechiparai road. If you are going by bus you have get down at the main road and walk a kilometer inside to reach the temple.

Stay and Food

None locally. Closest place for food is Kulasekaram, stay is Nagercoil.

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