Originally this is rock-cut cave temple representing the sanka and chakra –
interior ceiling and the exterior the overhanging huge granite rock
representing the bold relief of Ugra Narasimha with eight headed (at present
three right side heads are available) having 16 hands, one of the unique and
rare sculptural representation of Lord Narasimha, depicting the complete
story of the Prahalada. There are some evidences of human/divine figures in
damaged condition in single panel probably representing the episode of
The above mentioned cave temple probably expanded slightly later period. On
plan the structural temple consists of garbha-griha (cave?), with closed
pillared mukha mandapa. The presiding deity is facing west. Just opposite to
the main shrine there is another temple within the complex dedicated to
Rama, having pillared mukha mandapa. Both the shrines are facing each other
but the garbha-griha of Rama is in the north- west corner and sharing the
common dwajasthamba mandapa which is open to sky. The whole temple is
secured with raised walls and as if it is one unite. Outside the temple
complex there is 16 pillared open mandapa on west side. The temple is
located slightly in elevated area and series of steps leading to approach
the temple. It has mandapa type entrance gateway located in south lost its
sikhara. In the mid way there is a huge bas-relief depicting the Veera
Anjaneya (Kshetrapala) of this temple. He is facing Lord Narasimha.
Eight headed Ugra Narasimha – at present only three heads on the right
is survived rest all damaged.
Sixteen hands with different attributes – right hand from bottom holding
Hiranya-kasipu’s head (but it should hold vajra), the second hand
perhaps holding the cut off head of the Hiranya-kasipu, but it should
hold goad, arrow, spear, axe, sword, discus respectively and left hands
holding from bottom – club, noose, bow, sakti, mace, shield and conch
respectively. The Vaikahanasagama, Paramesvara – samhita specifies the
weapons carried in the sixteen hands of Narasimha.
The Hiranya-kasipu’s kept on the right thigh of the God seated in
virasana. Both the main hands engaged themselves with their sharp nails
in ripping open the belly of the demon and pulled out the intestines
from the demon’s belly and throw them as a garland round the god’s neck;
and one of the hands is about to administer a blow to the demon
(Chapetika-mudra / Pathaha hastha– fifth right hand – from bottom).
There are some evidences of human/divine representations carved as
panels witnessing the episode of Prahalada storey. His left feet kept on
the lotus pedestal – damaged now.
The panel on right side perhaps depicting– below the right leg of the
God, a female figure standing in tribhanga posture – except the head &
the leg portion rest is damaged and chipped off. Probably the standing
lady figure representing the Hiranya-kasipu’s wife Neelavathi and a sage
– Vashista in seated position – totally damaged. On the left leg of the
God two standing male figures may be Prahalada and the other devotees.
Below the left foot of the God, portion of leg in reclining position
shown, may be Hiranya-kasipu? After he defeated by the God. This
beautiful panel representation is totally damaged and through the
outline of the chipped off portion one can reconstruct the
representation of the episode of Prahalada.
Similar sixteen handed sculpture representation is noticed in the village
called Singerkoil (Singer = Lion, Koil = temple), near Pondicherry (UT).
It’s a famous living temple dedicated to Ugra Narasimha. Sixteen hands and
other attributes are strikingly similar to that of Narasimhulapalle Ugra
Narasimaha bas-relief panel. Originally the Singerkoil is datable to Pallava
period. The Vijayanagar period inscriptions mention this temple was
renovated shows its existence in the early period.
Another cave temple in Singaperumalkoil (Singa = Lion, Perumal = Vishnu,
koil = temple) dist. Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu dedicated to Narasimha in
seated posture without crown. The Lion’s mane is elaborately shown and He
has third eye. This cave temple datable to Pallava period.