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Jaina vestiges in Pudukkottai
- Prof. Subramanian Swaminathan

December 2008

Pudukkottai, a district of Tamilnadu has a great Jaina tradition dating back to pre-Christian era.
The archealogical evidences show that Jainism flourished here for more than 1500 years, from 3rd century BC to till about 13th centure AD.

There are a number of Jaina vestiges found scattered throughout the district, like images and fragments of images, ruins of temples and monastries and inscriptions.

In this district, is located the highest number of centrally protected Jaina relics/monuments in Tamilnadu.

A natural cavern called Ezhadipattam, with 17 stone beds and numerous inscriptions, which includes the famous 3rd century BC Tamil Brahmi inscription, was an abode of Jain ascetics from 3rd century BC for their penances.

The Jaina cave temple called Arivar-koil with its internationally renowned paintings, the earliest Jain paintings of India, dates back to a period ealier than the 9th century AD.

Samanar-kudagu situated on the Mela-malai of Narttamalai Hills, has a Jaina cave-temple, converted into a Vishnu shrine later.

Alurutti malai, Ammachatram
A natural cavern, with stone beds. There are two Tirthankara relief sculptures carved on the facade and inscriptions.

To the west of the tank Pallikkulam, on a 25ft boulder is a relief sculpture of Thirthankara and two inscriptions.  Near the tank can be found a number of broken Jaina idols.


A mutilated Tirthankara idol near the road, 100 meters south of the Bommadimalai with an inscription on the Bommadimalai rock.

Karuppar malai, Mailaapatti

Basement of a ruined Jaina temple and a Tirthankara image and inscriptions


Remains of a ruined Jaina temple and a Tirthankara image in Kanakampatti.  Probably, the temple had a prakaram of laterite stone.


Brick basement of a ruined Jaina temple callled Mottai Pillayar koil with a Jaina Tirthankara idol and a broken sculpture.  The Tirthankara idol is about 4ft in height and sculpture fully in the round.


At Andar madam, a natural cavern on Tenimalai, there is a relief figure of a Tirthankara on a big boulder.  There are two important inscriptions - one below the figure and another on a boulder.
Three Tirthankaras, seated in padmasana are canopied by triple umbrellas and flanked by chauri bearers.  According to the inscriptions, the first was commissioned by Sricalla-Udaranaseruvotti.

Another inscription states an Irukkuvel chieftain gave pallichandam for the maintenance of the monk, Malayadhwaja, performing penance here.  The place was in use till about the ninth century.


A Jaina Tirthankara idol is seated on a pedestal.  The idol is presently worshipped by the local people as 'Samanakaali'.  ASI has erected a basement for the sculpture and protected it by providing fencing.


To the west of a tank, there is a Tirthankara, the head of which is broken - a seated figure with attendants.  There are also ruins of a temple.


A Tirthankara, probably Adinatha, originally a relief sculpture now exists as a sculpture in the round and is worshipped by the local people.  Known as Perunar killi, Cholaperumapani was a Jain centre during the 9th-13th centuries.

A large inscription, now mostly defaced, datable to the reign of Sundara Pandya I, informs the existence of a Jain temple, 'Kallaatruppalli' and records pallichandam to the deity of Perunarkilli cholaperumpalli for various offerings by the naattavar of Tenkavinadu.


A natural cavern on the western side of the hillock contains polished stone beds.  One of the beds contains an inscription in Tamil Brahmi script of 2nd century AD.

Chettipatti (Samanar Kundu)
A structural temple, dedicated to a Tirthankara, is in ruins.  Only the basement foundation remains, with loose sculpture kept at the site.  Mahavira is seated on a pedestal.  Parshvadeva with smiling countenance, half closed elongated eyes, prominent nose and curly hair arranged in small circles and the five hooded serpent canopy illustrate exquisite Chola workmanship.

These partially carved individual sculptures of chauri bearers, a lion- the mount of Ambika yakshi are other noteworthy sculptures.
A 10th century inscription identifies Dayapaiar and Vadiraya as two disciples on Matisagaracarya.

A fine sculpture of Mahavira belongs to this village.  The 11th century image is seated on a simhasana in padmasana posture.  The semi-circular prabhavali, creeper design and triple umbrella, the contemplative calmness of the face, the half-closed eyes, broad shoulders and the sturdiness of the torso are beautifully depicted in this carved relief.

Only a Tirthankara, a yakshi and a few lion based pillars found near the Palliyurai tank are the relics of the Jain temple of this place.  The Tirthankara, seated in padmasana is a small figure, while Ambika yakshi, also seated on a pedestal, is larger.

A 10th century inscription records that the yakshi sculpture was commissioned by an offcial of Rajaraja Chola I, Jayankonda Chola Muvendavelan of Kulamangalanadu.  Some of the structural elements have been used in the Hindu temples nearby.

Other places having ruins of Jaina temples/monastries
Mangathevanpatti - Melur (Thirumayam)

Melur (Satyamangalam) - Puliyur

Nattampannai - Nanjur

 Alangudipatti - Tirupur

Alathur - Veerakudi

Annavasal - Kannangarakudi

Kaayamppatti - Valavampatti


According to Mailai Seeni Venkatasami, the following places also have Jaina monuments / relics
Malayakkovil - Kunnandar koil

Thiruvarangulam - Viralur

Poovaalaikkudi - Keezhaththaaniyam

Thevar malai

Existence of such a large number of monuments shows that Pudukottai was one of the most important Jaina centres in Tamilnadu, in the past.