22 June 2008

Jain sites in Tamil Nadu

Over the last three months, two rock art sites, two caverns with Jaina Beds, and Dolmens have been discovered nearby this area of Tamil Nadu. The discovery of Jaina beds confirmed the earlier view that the area was once a prominent centre of Jainism. The presence of rock art sites and dolmens shows that the area had been under continuous human occupation for 3,000 years.

On June 1st, 2008, researchers found a big cavern with Jaina beds and rock art on a hillock called Pancha Pandavar Kal, near Vadagal village located 15 km behind Gingee fort. The hillock is part of a chain of hills in the area. The team found a series of Jaina beds on the floor of the cavern and pre-historic paintings on the boulder surface opposite the beds.

Jaina beds found in a cavern

The beds are about 2,000 years old. Raised “pillows” had been hewn out of the rock-floor at one end of the beds. Channels were cut to drain out rainwater from the beds or the floor was scooped out to collect rainwater.

The rock art (about 1,000 B.C.) consists of a painting of a deer (three feet by three feet) done in white kaolin with outlines in red ochre and smaller drawings of deer and lizard on the adjacent rock surface, as if to contra-distinguish their size. The paintings are believed to have been done by pre-historic men hunter-gatherers, who used to live in the cavern. Which much later were occupied by Jain monks.

Jaina Beds have also been recently discovered at Thirunarungkondai, Paraiyanpattu and Melkudalur and remains of Jaina Temples at Melmalayanur near Tiruvannamalai, Tirunarungkondai, Melsithamur and Thondur.

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