Tiruchirappalli Rockford Temple
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The rock is said to be one of the oldest formations in the world. It is 3.8 billion years old, making it as old as the rocks in Greenland and older than the Himalayas, Quartz, used in glass making, and feldspar, used in ceramics, are found in this rock formation. As the name suggests, the Rock Fort Temple is situated on 83 meter high outcrops. The Pallavas initially built this temple, but the Nayaks made use of its naturally fortified position and designed it again. It is a long climb up the 344 steps cut into the stone to the top.
The temple complex in the fort complex is a collection of three temples and the Manikka Vinayakar temple at the foot of the hill, dedicated to Lord Ganeshathe Ucchi Pillayar temple at the top of the hill, dedicated to Lord Ganesha the Taayumaanavar Koyil Shivastalam, a rock cut temple dedicated to a Nayaka era saint, Taayumaanavar. Mathrubutheswarar, dedicated to Lord Shiva, has a lingam which is a projection of the rock itself. It is reached by a flight of steps on the way to Ucchi Pillayar Temple.
There are two rock cut temples in the fort, one in the lower part of the fort called Lower Cave temple and other in the complex outside the Thayumanswamny on the way up to Ucchi Pillayar Kovil, called the Upper Cave temple. An archaeological study in 2010 revealed that the layout of the rock-cut caves in the temple is similar to that of other rock-cut temples such as the Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple at Thiruvellarai and Pechipalai cave temple.
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