Jain States : Madurai, Pudukottai, South Arcot, North Arcot Districts, Tirunelveli, Trichy And Periyar.
Presence of Carvens : Around One Hundred or even more than that.
Jain Caves : Majorly found in the Madurai District.
The presence of various natural caverns around Tamil Nadu had made vast number of Jaina Monks to reside and mark their presence in the hilly regions of Tirunelveli, Pudukkottai, Trichy, Madurai, Periyar, North Acrot and South Acrot Districts. Those abodes are huge in number because of the diligent efforts done by the team of archaeologists; who had been working with a sincere dedication since long. These caves give us the real view of the caves of ancient period and mark an imprint on every mind with picturesque image and splendid work in form of architecture that has been developed here. It comprises of all articulate structures engaging them in a very religious form.
The Jain Temples are very important for Tamil Nadu. There are many reasons for its significance and presence on this land. The major are like, it is constructed in the lithic form, which embark the historical background that was present there. These caves are well known for the epigraphic records that contain the Brahmi characters assigned by the paleographical team for the vast period beginning from second century BC to 4th Century AD and apart from this, they have also provided the evidence for the increasing spread of Jainism in Tamilnadu.
Caves Decorated In the Form Of
There are many significance and the salient features related to these caves. These natural caverns are the result of stone bed cutting that made them suitable to dwell in. The bed was designed in such a format with one side slightly raised in order to be comfortable for sleeping just like pillow. The rock present on the upper portion is cut in the shape of drip ledge just to prevent the entry of rainwater marking its way inside the cave shelter. Some of the Caverns were also designed with thatched roofs holding up with the wooden poles. This can be judged by the presence of various holes present in front of open rocks lying in the caves. These caves are mostly found in the region which is near any water resource or the springs of water. This holy residence is in places especially in the region where all the basic needs are fulfilled for the monks.
The Distribution of Jain Caves
There are many cities in Tamil Nadu who covers Jain caves but the major Jain Caves are found only in Madurai. The number goes to twenty –six which cover more than one hundred and forty bed stones under the region of Anaimalai, Arittapatti, ALagarmalai, Tiruparakundram, Vikramangalam, Muttupatti, Karungalakkudi, Kongarpuliyankulam, Kilavalau, Mankulam, Varichiyur and Tiruvatavur – all of them are located at a distance of around 20 kilometers away from Madurai. The Brahmi records found here have the evidence of the names of residential monk who had resided in the caves for many days.
After Madurai, Trichy district is the next to be counted to cover the major caves. There are three pallis or the Jain Temples at Pugalur, Trichy and Sivayam rock fort. In a similar manner, even Kurralan and Maruakaltalai covers the major Jain Temple with the Brahmi records and the cave beds lying in the Tirunelveli District. Pasumpon, Periyar, Pudukottai and North Arcot districts are designed with the lithic records.
Besides these there lie more than 30 natural caverns situated in the several region like Sittannavasal, Pudukottai, South Arcot and North Arcot districts with the number of stone beds located in it. The only point is that these caverns do not have the Brahmi inscriptions on them. ‘Hence, it is not possible for the archeologists to decide the period of its construction and thus, the mystery remains unsolved. The epigraphic evidence and the available sculpture were marked in the beginning of 8th and 9th century AD. The carvings of the Yakshas, Tirthankars and Yakshis are the evidence of existence of the jain foundation in that period.