Mangaluru, Apr 2 (PTI) A cave found during the renovation work of Sri Anantha Padmanabha temple at Paniyadi in Udupi district recently belongs to the megalithic period, according to T Murugeshi, associate professor of ancient history and archaeology at MSRS College in Shirva.
In a statement, Murugeshi said he visited the renovation site on Thursday and found it was a rock-cut cave after examining it.
The cave belongs to 800 BC and is 2,000 years old in antiquity, he said.
Similar megalithic rock-cut caves have been found at Pavanje Subrahmanya temple, Sooda Subrahmanya temple, Sasturu Subrahmanya temple and other places in coastal Karnataka.
Murugeshi said the discovery is unique in understanding the antiquity of the Phanis.
Pani and Haadi, together forming Paniyadi, means settlement of Phanis.
Phanis were referred to in the Mahabharata and the Puranas as ancient original inhabitants of the country.
Places such as Paniyur, Paniyadi in Udupi district indicate the existence of Phanis settlements in the past.
Phanis were famous for their Naga worship while Naga was their totemic emblem.
Paniyadi's presiding deity Anantha Padbhanabha was also related with Naga worship.
Iconographically, he was Para Vasudeva, a Vaishnavate God.
He sits on the Naga coil and the Naga hood stands high on his head.
A similar icon found in Keelinje near Udupi belongs to 10th century AD, while the Paniyadi deity belongs to 14th Century AD, he said.
The Anantha Padmanabha temple belongs to Udupi Puttige Mutt and its renovation was undertaken by the mutt with the help of villagers.
While digging earth for constructing the outer wall of the temple on March 23, the cave was found eight feet below the surface to the north of the temple.PTI MVG SS PTI PTI