History – Ponnur Malai/Ponnurmalai is an ancient Jain heritage center in the Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu. Ponnur Malai is the place where the revered Jain ascetic/mont and scholar Acharya Kundkund who belonged to the Mula Sangha monastic order of Jain monks practiced his penances.
As per the Digambar tradition, it is believed that Acharya Kundakunda undertook his penance at Ponnur Malai. Further, it is believed that Achaya Kundakunda went to Videha Kshetra to visit Simandhar Bhagwan’s Samavasarana to clarify his doubts. After coming back he wrote the biggest wealth available to the Jain Community in the form of Samaysar, Pravachansar, Niyamsar, Panchastikay and Ashtapadhud, and many others.
About Acharya Kundakunda – His original name was Padmanandi but he was referred to as Kundkund as he was born at a place called Konakondla in Vajrakarur Taluk near Guntakal in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. He compiled several literary texts and devotional prayers. It is said that the great texts of the real philosophy of the world known as Dwiteeya Shruta Skandha which includes the Panch Paramagamas were written by him along with the Tirthankar Simandhar Swami and these were written at Ponnur hills. These texts motivate the pilgrims to follow the Jain principles of Right Faith, Right Knowledge, and Right Conduct.
A fair is held here every year on the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Posh. The people of this place begin an auspicious work after praying to him. Footmarks of Kundakundacharya, who is associated with this place, are installed on the hill.
Ponnur Malai Hill – On the Ponnur Malai hill with 333 steps old ‘charan/feet impression’ of Acharya Kunda Kunda is found. Besides the feet impressions we can also find an ancient idol of Tirthankar Mahavir in Sukhasana flanked by chouri bearers.
Jain Temples at Ponnur
Sri Adinath Tirthankar Digambar Jain Temple – This temple situated at foot of the hills at Ponnurmalai. It has the 30 inches high marble idol of Lord Adinath in padmasana as the main deity. We can also find the idols of Sahasrakuta made in a unique way. We can also find the idols of Tirthankar Adinath, Mahavir, Chandraprabha, Neminath and Parshwanath in padmasana.
and the other one is Sri Ajitnath temple situated at a distance of half (1/2) km from the hills. Adinath temple is an ancient temple adorned with spire, with the ancient idol of Bhagwan Adinath as principal deity installed. Idols of Neminath (black stone), Bahubali and Shanthinath in Kayotsarga are also found here.
Acharya Kunda Kunda Temple – This temple is situated beside the Adinath temple. It has about 2 feet high idol of Acharya Kundakunda in sukhasana posture made of black stone.
Samavasarana Temple – A Samavasarana temple was constructed recently (abut 2015) here.
Simandara Swamy Temple – This temple has the idols of Tirthankar Adinath, Mahavir and Simandara Swamy.
Munisuvrata Tirthankar Temple – This is a recently constructed temple dedicated to Tirthankar Munisuvrata. It has the black colored idol of Tirthankar Munisuvrata in padmasana as the main deity.
Vishakacharya Taponilayam – This is situated at a distance of 0.5 Kms from the Ponnur Malai hill.
- Bramhacharya Ashrama – It houses a Bramhacharya Ashrama and a Hostel School for nearby Jain, non-Jain students.
- Ajithnath Tirthankar Temple – This temple houses abot 3 feet high black coloured idol of Tirthankar Ajithnath in Padmasana as the main deity.
- Acharya KundaKunda Idol – About 7 feet black coloured idol of Acharya Kundakunda is installed in the open air on a 15 feet high platform.
Dharmashalas – We can also find two Dharamshalas been built at Ponnurmalai.
How to Reach – The nearest railway station of Tindivanam is at a distance of 40 kilometers to Ponnur Malai. Chennai is at a distance of 130 kilometers.