Sri Subrahmanya Swami Devasthanam, Tiruchendur, South India

Valli's Cave or Dattatreya's Cave

Scene in stucco at Valli Amma's Cave: Muruga's stratagem
Scene in stucco at Valli Amma's Cave: Muruga's stratagem
Valli Amma's Cave by the sea as it appeared in the early 20th century
Valli Amma's Cave by the sea as photographed in the 1940's

A little removed from the main shrine and on the northern seashore under a cliff of over-hanging hardened sandstone there is a picturesque grotto carved out of it. Two images are installed there, one dedicated to Valli and another to Dattatreya.

The frontal shrine has been embellished by a stone mantapa of 16 pillars, 24-1/4 ft. long 21-1/4 feet broad. Behind the frontal cave, there is a circumambular passage with another grotto carved from inside, with a figure of Valli in a niche. The cave overlooks the sea as its waves dash against its sides.

The walls of the mantapa have recent paintings of Nambirajan. The king of the clan of hunters and his men had followed the flight of Valli with Muruga; and here they were confronted by the divine consorts and are shown their grace. On this account the cave is also known as Valli Olittavalanādu.

To the left of the mantapa, a plastic representation of Muruga's conquest of Surapatuma and of his transformation into a peacock and a chanticleer (cēvalum mayilum) is seen with Veerabahu and Veera Mahendran Muruga's generals looking on. Pujas are conducted here twice in the day out of the temple paditharam.

The cave and the expansive sea in front of it has a special charm; and the worshipper is reminded of the immanence of god Muruga. The cave has received recent renovations with a granite flooring and a layout on the sea beach.

A counter part of this rocky cave is to be found nine miles away on the rocky edge of Manalpad Beach. Curiously enough it had been occupied as early as 1542 A.D. by the early Roman Catholic Church, and bears a tablet saying, "This cave once, the dwelling of a Saivite Sannyasi, has been sanctified by the prayers and penance of Saint Francis Xavier." This is spoken of as another of Valli's caves, and had gone into the use of the earliest followers of Jesus.