Samanar Malai is an ancient Jain hill in the Kilakuyilkudi village about 11 Kms from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. Samanar means Jaina and malai means hill, suggesting the name Hill of Jinas.
There are three different ancient Jain vestiges at Samanar Malai –
- A rock with an inscription
- Pechchipallam – A series of Jain sculptures and inscriptions engraved on rocks.
- Settipodavu – A cave with Tirthankar carvings and inscriptions.
Rock with An Inscription – It dates back to 2nd century B.C. It reads as “pool of Taatai or Peruterur”.
Pechchipallam – It is a picturesque place with a lotus pond at the foot of Samanamalai. At the top of the hill is seen a natural water spring along with a galaxy of Jain images carved on the face of the rock. It has the carvings of Lord Bahubali flanked by his sisters Brahmi and Sundari; the carving of Tirthankar Parshwanath in Kayotsarga with Kamatha’s Upasarga; carving of a Tirthankar in Paryankasana, the carving of a seated Tirthankar with its head being mutilated; Tirthankar Parshwanath in Kayotsarga with the image of Dharanendra Yaksha holding Chowris in his hands and snake hoods above his head; the carving of a Tirthankar in Paryankasana flanked by Chowri bearers.
Below these eight reliefs at the Pechchipallam site are six Tamil inscriptions in Vatteluttu script from donors.
Further up from the Pechchippalam reliefs is seen a temple, there is a 10th-century inscription. It has names of some visiting Gurus from Sravanabelagola. At the top of the Samanar hills is Velakatum , not too far from here is a 11th-century or more likely 12th-century predominantly Kannada inscription with one line in Tamil. This is also a Jaina inscription.
Jain Cave along Settipodavu Side – One can reach the cave by climbing a few steps shaded with trees and greenery along the path. On the face of rock, there is a huge 8 feet sculpture of Lord Mahavir at 15 feet above the ground level. Adjacent to that is the cave. There are 5 sculptures inside the cave. Among them three are of Tirthankaras in Paryankasana; to the extreme left is that of Yakshi Ambika and to the extreme right is a sculpture of Kotravai. The Jain inscriptions are seen below these sculptures. These are Tamil Jain inscriptions in Vatteluttu script.