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Historical hillock

Hills that boast of history and religion



RARE RELICS Rare posture of Shiva and the rock-cut linga Photos: S. James

THE HILLOCK, which looks like a pack of rocks arranged vertically, can leave any new visitor with the feeling of rolling down any moment. `Kalinjamali', as the locals call it, is located in Arittapatti, a small village 25 km from the Temple city. The hillock is steeped in 2,300 years old history.

Two phases

On one side of the hill are natural Jain caves called Pandavar Padukkai. And on the other, a rock-cut Shiva temple.

Interestingly, Pandavar Padukkai - as the name may suggest - has got nothing to do with the Pandavas of Mahabhratham. Yet people on seeing the stone beds assume Pandavas may have stayed here during their exile.

Whereas it is the bed of Jain saints, who retreated from the world into the caves before 300 B.C. The Archaeological Department has found two Tamil Brahmi inscriptions mentioning names of Sangam Pandya rulers, who patronised the religion. Names of a few kings Nelveli Chezhiyan and Ilamperathan and his son Imayavan are inscribed in these inscriptions, according to Archaelogical Officer, Dr. A. Santhalingam.

Next to the inscription, another Jain Thirthankara sculpture is carved out with engravings in Vattalethu characters below. The inscription dates back to 10th century AD suggesting the name of the village as `Pathrikudi' and the hill as `Thirupinaiyan Malai.' It has carries details about a Jain saint Accanandhi, who worked for the revival of Jainism during 9th and 10th century A.D. during the Pandya rule.

A rare specimen

On the other side of the hill is scooped out a Shiva temple called `Edaichimandapam' by the locals. The architectural features and sculptural art of the temple indicate that it belongs to the 8th century AD. It is a simple temple with a small sanctum sanctorum and an open mandapam. Inside the sanctum sanctorum, a Shivalinga is carved out from the natural rock.

On the right side of sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful sculpture of Shiva in the form of `Lakulisa.' There are several sects in Saivisim and one of them is `Lakulisa Pasupatham.' The presiding deity of this sect is Lord Shiva. On the left, rests Lord Vinayaka.

The Lakulisa Shiva is apparently a rare specimen in Tamil Nadu. One similar sculpture is found at Kudimallam near Vellore, where Lord Shiva is seen in a standing posture.


Here in Arittapatti, the figure of Shiva is in sitting posture of `Suhasana' and holding a club in left hand.

The temple is a protected monument under State Archaeological Department. Recently renovation work was carried out at the cost of Rs.2.32 lakhs. College students often visit the temple to study the sculptures, says Dr. Santhalingam.

The village might have derived its name `Arittapatti' from a Jain saint Arittanemi (nemi means wheel). "It is just an assumption as there is no evidence," says Santhalingam.

Though the inscriptions found in the village lack the name of Jain saint Arittanemi, the name is found in other Jain inscriptions unearthed in the Pandya region. In those days the village might had served as a busy trade centre, he adds.

Though little known, the village has a continuous history from 3rd century B.C to 13th century AD.

S.S.KAVITHA

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