Palakkad (Kerala), December 16, 2016: Efforts to preserve Palakkad district’s rich Jain tradition got a boost on Saturday when the Kozhikode regional chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) undertook the task of protecting two ancient idols of Tirthankaras, found at Eswarancode, near Mundur, here. According to Jainism, a Tirthankara is a human being who achieves ‘moksha’ through asceticism, and then becomes a role model and teacher for those who want spiritual guidance.
Situated in a private property at present, the idols require more research and studies to determine the time and purpose of their installation. INTACH activists have cleaned up the premises after obtaining consent of the property owners and installed signs detailing how significant the Tirthankara idols are as per Jain tradition. INTACH activists have also begun an exercise to find other major Jain cultural remnants that require protection and promotion.
Talking to The Hindu here after the cleaning-up drive, Arun Narayan of INTACH said at least half a dozen sites with Jain symbols can be traced in Palakkad district, which along with Wayanad had housed the largest Jain congregation in Kerala.
“We have taken up the Eswarancode initiative as a first step in forming a Palakkad chapter of INTACH. The organisation will seek the help of historians and Jain community leaders to unravel the past of the idols there. Our Jain cultural mission will cover the whole district in the coming months and the focus will be extended to other historical and cultural spheres in the district thereafter,’’ he said.
“Historians substantiate that Jain monks had entered Kerala through three routes — namely Mangalore, Wayanad and Konghunadu enclosing Salem and Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu, in the past,’’ he said. Historian A. Velupillai, in his epigraphical evidence of Tamil studies, had stated that the monks hailed from Shravanabelagola, near Srirangapattanam, in the present day Karnataka.
In Palakkad town, a ‘Digambar’ shrine dedicated to Chandraprabha, the eighth ‘Tirthankara’ of Jainism is located at Jainimedu, on the banks of the Kalpathy river, between Olavakkode and Chunnambuthara.
As per legend, the Jainimedu temple was constructed on a 12-acre plot by a family of diamond traders who came from Kanahalli in Karnataka 500 years ago.
The temple, hitherto in a dilapidated condition, is under renovation now. The shrine, built on huge granite blocks, is now located in 70 cents of land. The 32-feet-high structure comprises four ‘aras’ (divisions) with walls devoid of glittering ornamentations and decorations. – News Courtesy: The Hindu