THRISSUR:With the completion of the first phase of excavation at Thrikkanamathilakom in Thrissur, there emerged evidence that could possibly justify the existence of a Jain temple rumoured to have endured the 12th century.
According to the archaeological team, the evidence regarding the Jain temple is by no means conclusive, but they have discovered the remnants of a high wall bearing a striking resemblance to the one that might have existed in such a temple in that era.
“The excavation team has discovered pieces of ‘Marottu’, the kind of roofing systems seen in temples upto 12th century. They have also discovered coins used in the era of Chera rule, ancient iron needles and remnants of an ancient temple wall,” said MLA V S Sunilkumar.
What is even more mysterious, according to the excavation team, is that the 12th century temple, the existence of which they have confirmed, was destroyed by an external force. “Some locations of the temple, which we have discovered, bear signs of having come under attack by an external agent. How it happened can only be understood after we get a clearer picture of what the building used to be,” B Mohanachandran of the Archaeology Department, who is in charge of the dig said.
There have been literal versions of the existence of a Jain temple in Mathilakom, corroborated by the inscriptions found near Pulpally in Wayanad which is considered as the major entry point of Jainist monks into Kerala. The engravings have described Thrikkanamathilakom temple as a ‘model’ Jain centre. The temple in Thrikkanamathilakom has also been rumoured to be the home of ‘Digambara’ or sky clad sect of Jains, characterised by their complete nakedness, a traditional umbrella made of fallen peacock feathers and a perpetual clothing over their mouth.
The archaeological team refutes the arguments that the site was destroyed during Tipu Sultan’s military regime, as some historians have suggested. “The upper caste Hindus or the Brahmins were not allowed entry into the temple and this might have resulted in a fight that brought down the site. The temple at Kodungalloor used to be a Buddhist place of worship and Koodalmanikyam was believed to have been a Jain temple earlier,” said members of the excavation team.
With the discovery of the wall, the next job, according to the team, is to find out the architectural structure of the rumoured Jain temple. “The Digamabara sect is known to be a very isolated lot, living in secluded areas. We will try to find out whether there are any caves that might have been used by the monks in the area,” said MLA V S Sunilkumar. The excavation team had dug two trenches, 2X2 and 5X5 in dimension, near Ilavanjikkulam. It took less than a one-metre dig in the 5X5 trench before the team figuratively started hitting gold.