TAMIL NADU

A 1,000 years old, they still charm visitors

BEAUTY CARVED IN STONE: A stone sculpture located atop Yanaimalai in Madurai.

BEAUTY CARVED IN STONE: A stone sculpture located atop Yanaimalai in Madurai.  

T. Saravanan

MADURAI: Researchers have always evinced a keen interest in the rock-cut caves, stone inscriptions and Jain beds in and around the Temple City, as the Brahmi inscriptions and `Vattezhuthu' are more than 1,000 years old. It may also be noted that one of the earliest reference to the solar eclipse also finds its place here.

Having understood the historical significance of these places the number of tourists visiting has also increased manifold, which has propelled the Tourism Department and State Archaeological Department to renovate and conserve these monuments.

The department has been working hard to protect 17 sites that have been identified as monuments. The sites identified by the department are the Tirumalai Naick Mahal, 10 pillars, Yanaimalai (3 sites), Arittapatti, Varichiyur Cave Temples (2 sites), Jain bed at Thiruvathavoor, Jain bed and stone inscriptions at Mangulam, Jain bed at Karungalakudi, Dargahkudi Siva temple (near Kottampatti), Tirumalai Naick Mandapam at Alagar Koil, stone inscriptions at Konkar Puliangulam near Madurai Kamaraj University, Jain bed and stone inscriptions at Panamanathupuram near Vadamadurai, Dindigul, stone inscriptions at Ivar Malai (Palani), Jain caves at Kovalanpottal (near TVS Nagar) burial site.

Renovation work

The renovation work at Tirumalai Naick Mahal, 10 pillars, Ladan Cave Temple and Jain Theerthankara sculptures at Yanaimalai, was completed using State funds. This year the department has planned to renovate the Jain beds and stone inscriptions at Yanaimalai and Mangulam in a month's time.

The State has allocated funds to the department to renovate the stone inscriptions, which were in Brahmi script.The stone inscriptions of Mangulam are among the oldest found in these parts as it contains a reference to King Pandian Neduchezhian, according to department sources. The department has been planning to renovate the approach to these monuments located atop Yanaimalai and a hill at Mangulam by setting up new ladders and steps. The department will also make arrangements to set up a fence around the monuments.

Though everybody takes pride in looking at the inscriptions no one is able to decipher what the inscriptions say. So, it would be a great help to tourists and visitors keen on learning more about these monuments if the State Archaeological Department displays a board with English and Tamil translations of the inscriptions.

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