Thirunathar Kundru (Sirukadambur) or Thiru Nathan Kundru rock cut Jain heritage structures are located in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu.
History – Gingee, also known as Senji or Jinji, originally called Singapuri is a town in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Historical references indicate that it was called Simmapurinadu. Gingee and its surroundings has a rich Jain hritage. The town comprises of 3 parts, viz: Srikadambur/Srikadampur, Krishnapuram and Chakrapura. Along the Srikadampur area about 2 Kms away from the Gingee town is found a hillock.
On the hillock are seen a few Jaina images, inscriptions are caves.
Twenty Four Tirthankar Carvings – One climbing up the hillock is seen the carvings of 24 Jain Tirthankars on a huge boulder in two rows. All the Tirthankaras are seated in Paryankasana (sitting) posture on a simhapeetha. Each of the Tirthankara images are flanked by Chamaras or Chouris and Mukkode or Chattris are found above each image. These carvings might have been carved in and arond 9th century A.D.
Other Tirthankar Images – Two Tirthankar images are seen here:
Tirthankar Mahavir – On one of the boulder is seen the carving of a Jain Tirthankar in Kayotsarga (standing) posture. The Tirthankar is flanked by Chouris above the idol’s head is seen Mukkode. This is said to be Tirthankar Mahavir, the 24th Jain Tirthankar.
Tirthankar Adinath – On one of the other rocks is seen the carvings of a Tirthankar in Paryankasana, above the Tirthankara’s head is seen the Mukkode and the idol is seen carved inside a mantapa. Only right side of the Tirthankar image is seen and the other half has been mutilated. This is said to be Adinath Tirthankar, the 1st Tirthankar of Jainism.
Jain Inscriptions – Interestingly 2 Jain inscriptions are seen on the hillock.
Chandranandi’s Sallekhana Inscriptions – An inscription found on one of the rocks dates back to 5th or 6th Century A.D. This inscriptions states that a Jain monk Chandranandi observed 57 days of fasting and attained Samadhi. Fasting unto death is called Sallekhana in Jainism and hence this is a Sallekhana inscription.
Ilayabhattara’s Inscription – Another inscription of 10th Century A.D. mentions that a monk Ilayabhattara attained Samadhi by observing 30 days of fast.
Fasting unto death and attaining Samadhi is called as Sallekhana in Jainism. Hence it can be concluded that both these inscriptions are Sallekhana inscriptions.
Jain Caves – On our way up the hill are seen 2 caves. These caves were used by Jain monks during their stay here.
Pooja and Celebrations – Daily pooja is not performed to the idols. However, Jains from in and around the region assemble here and perform abhisheka to the 24 Tirthankar carvings during the month of Chitrai – Mid April to Mid May. The pooja is performed as per the Digambar Tamil Jain tradition.
Jain Heritage Centre – Looking at the above facts it can be concluded that Thirunathar Kundru (Sirukadambur) was continously inhabited by Digambar Jain monks over the period of 5th to 10th century A.D. while there were passing by the region and Tirthankar sculptures were carved for their darshana. With the history of Jain monks visiting here the Tirthnkar images it can be concluded that the region was a hot bed of Jainism.
How to Reach – Thirunathar Kundru (Sirukadambur) is located at a distance of 2 kms north from Gingee town on Gingee-Vadapalai Road before Singavaram Village and about 42 kms from Villupuram, the district centre.
Coordinates – 12°16’22″N 79°24’26″E