Temples are built in all conceivable places. In the plains, seafronts, hills, towns and forests etc. In the plains these are built without elevation (no need to have steps to climb… like Keerimalai), or built on plinths (short elevation… like Ketheeswaram) or having number of steps (maadakkovil… like Thiruveezhimizhalai). Chozha temples like Thanjavur, Gangai konda chozhapuram, Tarasuram etc. have also been built in an elevated positions. These Chozha temples are not called madakkovils (though they are) since Kochchengan’s temples alone got the epithets.
So it became necessary to have steps to go up and down. This is a write up on the kinds of steps that I have Modern temples may have steps to climb up. These have stainless steel hand rails to facilitate climbing. In the olden times steps existed without protective means. Personally I need someone’s help to negotiate these. ”Then Thirumullaivayil” temple is an example.
In some temples these steps have protective walls on either side.
In some old temples the protective walls are plain i.e. without decorations.
In some temples these side protectors are decorated. These can be sculptures of elephants.
The sculptures of just Yali with its trunk curved and the yali looking back are usually seen.
These yali sculptures may have extra figures as well.
In few temples the stones have been drilled to make these three dimensional.
In some temples lions and other animals grace these steps.
There are more elaborate sculptures adorning the steps. You can find these in Thiruvannamalai, Thanjavur, Tharasuram etc.