The somewhat fantastically named Tiger's Cave reflects both a great lack of imagination and lazy historical assumptions on the part of those who committed the act. Deed done, the name stands. Mercifully, so does the monument.
Just 4 km before Mamallapuram on the East Coast Road are these structures of spellbinding beauty, standing in an ocean of green manicured lawns and beach casuarina trees. Large boulders, uncarved, rise near it, and these too have been protected within the enclosure, entry into which is by a rather amusing turnstile, which snags and creaks as it traps visitors of more than average girth.
Once inside, the 'Cave' is hard to miss. A survivor from the age of the Pallava dynasty that ruled the region between the 2nd and 9th centuries, this fine, rock-cut structure has fine carvings that have softened with weathering. The scripts on the walls praise the Pallava king Parameshwara.
There are several inscriptions and two nearly complete monuments of note within this complex of boulders and excavated ruins - the Atiranachanda Mandapa and the Yali Mandapa. The latter, with its carvings resembling feline features, was accorded the name Tiger's Cave.
Also read: Looking inside the Tiger's Cave
PHOTOS: AZHAR MOHAMED ALI
TEXT: BIJOY VENUGOPAL