After we landed Keeranur near Pudukottai, Trichy Parthy one of our Facebook friend took us first to the Jain monuments at Nanjur near Keeranur. Jainism was flourished once in Pudukottai area surrounded by the small small rocky hills with natural shelters where megalithic period human beings lived. Jainism spreads to Pandya Nadu through Kongu nadu & Thondai Nadu from North India. During Pandya Kings rule some of the Kings followed Jainism. Pandyas and Chozhas supported the Jainism and built Jinalaya for their worship. All most all the rocky hills of Madurai, Pudukottai, South Arcot, North Arcot are being occupied by the Jain monks and beds were carved on the rocks/ boulders by the donors. During 8th Century, revival of Shaivam and Vaishnavam started by the Thevara moovar Appar, Sundarar & Thiruganasambandar and Alwars, Jainism slowly lost its importance. A very few Jinalyas are in worship now. Due to dwindling of Jain population, old Jinalayas are not maintained and destroyed by nature. Some of the Tirthankara statues are found in Villages, are kept in worship by Hindus also. This post will cover the Jain monument visited during our Pudukottai Heritage Visit.
This is a dilapidated Jain Jinalaya, built by Paranthaka chozha. There are inscription on the Kumudam of the adhistanam speaks about a donation of a land to a Jain school by Karikandan, Karikesan and Karisadayan. Keeping an Yakshi in the middle Tirthankars are installed on both sides. On the Left may be Adhinath in standing posture with Mukkudai. On the right is also a Tirthankara without Mukkudai. He may be a monk too. These three statues are erected in the recent times.
A Tirthankara is kept along with Vishnu, Durgai, Kotravai and an inscription stone in open to sky. In Tirthankara statue mukkudai and whisk bearers / samaratharis are shown. The inscription belongs to Chozha King Rajaraja. It was told that a Chozha period Vishnu Temple and Jinalaya existed once and the statues are the remains. Now these statues are under the control of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
On the other side of the Malayadipatti Shiva and Vishnu Rock Cut caves, there are two boulders one is sitting on the other. Only small square holes of 1 inch depth are provided to climb up. 3 beds are carved on the flat surface with inscriptions belongs to 8th century. The inscription reads as “கறையுர் ஆலங்காரிக்குப் பிச்சும் பிராந்து“, the meaning is not known. There is also a telegu inscription and it reads as “எப்போதும் சேவை செய்பவராய் மங்கான்”. In addition to this there is a scratch art which will be posted separately.
TIRTHANKARAS & JAIN BEDS AT ALURUTTIMALAI.
The natural cave is facing east with two Tirthankaras on the face of the projecting rock. The first Tirthankara is in meditating posture. Mukkudai and samara are shown. The right side is Mahavir. Simhas are seen on both sides. Mukkudai and samaratharis / whisk bearers are also shown. The open floor is carved with beds.
On the slope there is a Pandya King, Sundara Pandya’s inscription. The inscription mentions this place as “Thiruppalli” and also it mentions the names of two acharyas Dharmadeva and his Guru Kanaka Chandra Panditha. From this we can conclude that a full fledged School was running in the natural cave. Also it mentions “கடலடையாத இலங்கை கொண்ட சோழவளநாடு”, a division of Pandya Nadu.
The Hill Aluruttimalai is also called as Ammachatram Hills. The name alurutti, came since, enemies, prisoners are rolled down from the top of the hill, from the vertical face as punishment.
Pandya period inscriptions
KUDUMIYAN MALAI JAIN BEDS.
On the west side of the hill there are some beds carved for the Jain monks with 3rd Century BCE Brahmi inscriptions. The inscriptions reads as Nazhal kottranthai paali in Tamil “நாழள் கொற்றந்தய் ப(ளி)ய்“ - Nazhal is referred in Sanga literature Kurunchi, as a flower, which is now called as Pulikonrai. A person with dignity called Kottranthai of the Village Nazhal had excavated these beds/ Paali.
This Tirthankara is sitting in meditating posture under a peepaul ( piNdi maram ) tree with curved branches forms like pandal. The kuncharas / bells are shown hanging from the pandal. On both side are whisk bearers / smaratharis. Prabai and mukkudal are shown above the Tirthankara’s head. A Pillow arrangement is also shown on the back of Tirthankara. The head is found neatly chiseled like a pillar from neck. Whether this was intentionally damaged or Tirthankara was made like this is not known. The Tirthankara statue is kept on a platform constructed by Archaeological survey of India ( ASI ). As per the experts this Tirthankara may belongs to 9th to 10th Century.
The Jinalaya and Tirthankaras and Ezhadipattam Jain beds are written as a separate post.
---OM SHIVAYA NAMA---