Historical Yanaimalai Jain caves turn haven for rogues
By M Vandhana | Published: 16th July 2012 08:07 AM |
An early morning trek to the Jain caves in Yanaimalai may seem like a good way to spend the weekend. But do not be surprised if you see locals urinating inside the historical monument.
“This monument has been declared to be of historical importance. Whoever destroys, removes, injures, alters, imperils, defaces or misuses this monument shall be punished,” reads a warning put up by the Department of Archaeology near the caves.
For locals however, the warning of up to three months of imprisonment with `5,000 fine means nothing. Anti-social elements wreak havoc over this heritage monument that was once the abode of Jain saints.
The pathway from the village to area where the Jain caves are located is full of human excreta. Sadly, the caves themselves have not been spared. From human excreta to liquor bottles, cigarette stubs and even discarded clothing, everything implies that the heritage monument is a haven for rogues.
A watchman is supposed to prevent wrongdoing but, according to residents of Othakadai, the hired person does not even guard the place for one hour a day. He comes at 10 am and stays there for a maximum of half an hour. “He in fact tried locking the gates to the caves. But when visitors come it is difficult to locate him and get the keys. Besides, he is also employed elsewhere. So he leaves the gates open all the time,” said a villager.
“There are a few people in the village who use the caves to gamble, drink liquor and also bring women to the caves at night. But questioning them will put us at risk, so we ignore them,” the villager added.
The untrimmed and overgrown bushes along the pathway are an added advantage for anti-social elements, apart from the fact that there is no one to guard the caves at night. “On a few occasions, visitors who went to see the caves at dusk had to return on spotting locals in an inebriated state,” said another villager.
Even if the gate is closed, the locals have marked a way through the fences to access to the caves. Young couples have carved their names on the walls inside alongside ancient Brahmi inscriptions from the eight to 10th century.
“It is not just the plight of the monuments in Yanaimalai, all Jain abodes are neglected. It is impossible to place one’s feet in the caves strewn all over with broken glass from liquor bottles,” said a scholar, who insisted that the police should step in and guard the monument. When contacted N Ganesan, Assistant Director of the State Archaeology Department, assured action in two days to clean up the heritage monument.
“We do create awareness among students by taking them on a heritage tour. We have also employed part time watchmen to clean up the monument periodically. Now that incidents of unlawful activities have been brought to our notice immediate actions will be taken,” he told Express.