Panamaram Jain Temple
Panamaram - Nadavayal - Kenichira - Bathery, Kerala 670721, India
Amidst coffee plantations and right on a the sides of a highway remains the ruins of a Jain Temple, one of the oldest in India.
Location of Panamaram Jain Temple
More about Panamaram Jain Temple
Panamaram Jain Tample, situated in Panamaram village in Wayanad district of Kerala State in Southern India is an ancient Jain Temple in its ruins. The temple sits in the middle of absolute greenery amidst a coffee plantation with its great stone pillars and beautiful carvings on them.
History of Jain community in Wayanad
Jains are one of the early religious groups to migrate to Wayanad. Their history in Wayanad starts in the 12th century when Hoysala Kings were the rulers of Karnataka, when Wayanad was a part of their Dynasty. Wayanad was known as Bailand during that time. The rulers of Hoysala dynasty were Jains till Vishnuvardhana, the king of the dynasty who came under the influence of Hindu philosopher Ramanujacharya and converted to Hindu Vaishnavism (followers of this Hindu tradition consider Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Lord).?
Migration of the community to Wayanad
Around the medieval time, Shaivism (followers of this Hindu tradition consider Lord Shiva as the Supreme Lord) became strong in Karnataka and the frequent attacks from followers of Shaivism lead the Jain community to Kerala and especially to neighbouring Wayanad.
The migrated Jains came first to Panamaram on the banks of the river Kabini and from there the group spread to multiple areas of Wayanad. The migrated Jains were mostly farmers but digging and ploughing were against their belief. To keep their belief, they introduced eco farming in Wayanad. Since Panamaram was a fertile land due to the presence of Kabini, the place become ideal for agriculture and to earn a livelihood. Belonging to Digambara sect of Jainism, the migrated Jains were Kananada speaking and still today, the small community in Wayanad speaks Kannada at home.
Present population of Jains in Wayanad
For all the miseries endured by the early Jains, not many in Kerala are aware that there is a Jain population in Wayanad. The total number of Jains stands somewhat less than 2,000 in the district but the different line of history and culture they brought in makes the community an outstanding presence.
Jain symbols in nearby places
It is believed that some of the wall inscriptions of the famous Edakakl Caves in Wayanad are closely related to Jainism. The Swastik mark, the mark of the seventh Tirthankara (spiritual teacher of the dharma), Suparswanatha (seven headed serpent carved on head of an image). The Chandrabimbamark, the mark of eight Tirthanka also can be seen on the wall of the cave. There are inscriptions of the Hoysala Kings as well.
Exploring the temple and its premises
The temple and its surroundings are striking. Amidst the thick of rain-fed coffee plantations that are typical of the hilly stretches of Wayanad lies the architectural relics of the temple.
Some of the heavily carved black and grey walls are still standing and some pieces of the carved granites are laying around as if waiting for someone to solve a jigsaw puzzle.
Though seriously damaged, the temple is an excellent example of stone sculpting tradition, not to mention the sense of mystery it hides in plain-sight.
The carvings on the stones depicts both Vaishnava and Jain beliefs, in lieu with the influence of religions during the time when the migrations happened. The relics are just next to the road and its interesting to see the structure still standing in-spite of the plantation and scrubs grown all over it. The Thirthankara statue inside the temple is missing, likely that it is transferred to some other place for safe keeping. Few sculptures are in a good shape, others wearing of slowly with the changing seasons and weather patterns.
Getting to the temple by public transportation
The temple can be accessed from Mananthavady (31KM), Kalpetta (20KM), and Suthan Bathery (23KM). The nearest railway station is in Kozhikode.?