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Students adopt ancient Jain site

    Madurai (Tamil Nadu), April 3, 2012: Students of the history department of Fatima College in Madurai have come forward to adopt the ancient Jain site in Keelakuyilkudi in Madurai, as part of the Dhan Foundation’s tourism for development project.

    As part of the programme, heritage clubs have been formed by the NGO in the three colleges – Mannar College, Fatima College and Thiagarajar College of Arts. Interested students can become members of the clubs and participate in the crucial activity of preserving the heritage in the region.

    K P Bharathi, programme leader said that students of history often feel that they have selected one of least important courses of study, but this is not true. “They can contribute to the preservation of culture and heritage of the region,” he said. The heritage clubs have roped in students of history for this purpose.

    A memorandum of understanding to this effect was signed between the NGO and the college in March and 50 students toured Keelakuyilkudi, on Sunday. Dr V Vedachalam, archaeologist and Dr R Venketraman, retired professor of history at the Madurai Kamaraj University explained to the students the importance of the site, which has stone inscriptions to prove that it was inhabited by the Jain community in second century BC written in Tamil brahmi script.

    The site bears witness to many sculptures of Mahaveer and other Jain monks. There is also historical evidence that this place was the site of a flourishing Jain school in the ninth century. Keelakuyilkudi was also famous during the British rule and the buildings stand evidence to this.

    The students would first learn about the region and spread knowledge among their peers in their respective institutes and later educate the host community living in the region on the importance of preserving these sites, from further destruction by natural and also anti-social factors. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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