Anaimalai

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Anaimalai is considered to be one of the eight sacred Jaina hills. Situated a short distance from the village is a natural cavern which measures roughly twenty-two feet in length. eighteen feet in width and approximately three feet in height at its entrance. The height diminishes towards the interior. The cavern contains three carved double-berths, one single berth which is slightly lower than the others, and four other consecutive berths covered with earth. Eight more berths are found outside the cavern. Above the cave entrance, the overhanging rock is cut to a depth of two feet three inches in width and fifteen feet in length. Below this drip-line cutting is a solitary Bramhi inscription which can be dated to the first to second century It records that the stone berths found in the palli were the gift of Nathan of Kunrattur and that they were made for the merit of the monks Eri Aritan, Attuvay and Arattakayipan.

Although the relics, in the form of stone berths and Bramhi inscription, indicate an earlier date for the establishment, Anaimalai did not become a prominent lama centre until the ninth century. It was during this latter period that the first in a number of stone sculptures representing Tirthankaras, yakshas and yakshis were carved near the cave on the vertical surfaces of the rock-face by a number of pious devotees from several of the surrounding villages.

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Anaimalai is a village about five miles from Madurai.

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Post Author: JHC