From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Sittanavasal
Mains level : NA
The Sittanavasal Rock Cave Temple, a major centre of Jain influence for 1,000 years just before the Christian era, is in need of better upkeep.
- Sittanavasal is a small hamlet in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu, India.
- It is known for the Sittanavasal Cave, a 2nd-century Jain cave complex. From the 7th to the 9th century A.D., the village flourished as a Jain centre.
- Sittanavasal is the name used synonymously for the hamlet and the hillock that houses the:
- Arivar Kovil (temple of Arihants — Jains who conquered their senses)
- Ezhadipattam (a cavern with 17 polished rock beds), megalithic burial sites and the
- Navachunai tarn (small mountain lake) with a submerged shrine
What makes it special?
- The artwork on the ceiling of the sanctum and the ardha mandapam of Arivar Kovil is an early example of post-Ajanta cave paintings of the fourth to sixth centuries.
- It was also done using the fresco-secco technique (a process that dispenses with preparation of the wall with wet plaster).
Features of the cave paintings
- The ceiling paintings show ‘bhavyas’ (exalted souls who work to achieve moksha or spiritual liberation) enjoying themselves in a pool, full of lotuses; today much of it is obscured by patchy plastering.
- Faint outlines linger of dancing girls on the ‘ardha mandapam’ pillars.
- The colours are a mixture of plant dyes and mineral elements such as lime, lamp black, and clay pigments such as ochre for yellow and terre verte for the greyish-green tints.
Why in news now?
- Unrestricted public access and general exposure to the elements have led to a gradual fading away of these paintings.
- At the Ezhadipattam, inscriptions have been vandalised beyond recognition.
Also try this PYQ:
Q.There are only two known examples of cave paintings of the Gupta period in ancient India. One of these is paintings of Ajanta caves. Where is the other surviving example of Gupta paintings?
(a) Bagh caves
(b) Ellora caves
(c) Lomas Rishi cave
(d) Nasik caves
Post your answers here.