Rock Cut Cave Temples of Adavi Somanapalli

Rock Cut Cave Temples of Adavi Somanapalli locally known as Nainag Gullu located in a forest and one needs to walk 4km from Thadicherla on the hillock of Adavi Somanapalli, Malhar Rao Mandal, located 22km away from Manthani in Bhupalapally district, Telangana State, India.

Dates back to 5th - 6th century AD. To reach the caves, one has to trek through a jungle path from the Kataram–Manthani highway.

These are a group of four rock-cut cave temples facing west on the banks of Manair river. Locally, these shivalayas are called Naina Gullu. Unfortunately, it is partially in ruins owing to the inferior quality of the rock stone and natural calamities. These rock-cut temples resemble the famous cave temples of Moghalrajpuram near Vijayawada constructed by the Vishnukundins.

They were initially jain caves that were later converted into a Lord Shiva temple.

The first two temples have an ‘Ardhamandapa’, the ornate gateway or open hall that leads into the ‘Garbhagriha’ or sanctum sanctorum. “The striking feature is the ceiling with coloured paintings. Most of the paintings are lost, with with only traces of black, red, blue & yellow figurines remaining. We can make out scantilydressed men and women only till the thighs. These are richly adorned with crowns, necklaces, leaf-shaped earrings, heavy bracelets and yagnopavita or the sacred thread. We can also faintly see dancers, courtesans, battle-scenes, horsedrawn chariots, archers, palaces etc. The murals painted in the first rock-cut cave depict people in the kingly attire, archers, armed personnel, dancers, horses, palaces etc. The murals reminisce the style of Ajanta in Maharashtra. The second cave houses the sculpture of Mahishasuramardhini, which is in ruins.

The third rockcut temple only has an Ardhamandapa housing the statues of Lord Ganapati & a Dwarapalaka. The fourth temple has an incomplete inscription on the outer pillar of the Ardhamandapa. The inscription is in Telugu which belongs to either 10th or 11th century AD. 

The caves of Adavi Somanapalli under Malhar Rao Mandal that come alive only during Maha Shivarathri festival is otherwise disconnected from mainstream of life

Feb 25, 2018: 9th century rock art on temple whitewashed during shiva rathri celebrations. Following which, the State Archaeological Department swung into action and prepared a proposal to protect the indigenous art forms of the temple.