VELLORE: A group of self-motivated individuals keen on protecting ancient monuments undertook a walk to Vallimalai Hills near here on Sunday to create awareness on the significance of such monuments while underlining the need for protecting the abandoned ones by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Led by Puducherry-based businessman Sridharan, volunteers from across the State held the‘Ahimsa Walk’ to publicise the importance of non-violence and peaceful living, which was preached by Jain saints in Vallimalai region in the eighth century.
“Most of such ancient sites that contain Jain inscriptions are not known to the people by and large. We would like the messages of the Jain saints, who had stayed in caves in various parts of the State since the Sangam period and which have a lot of relevance in today’s turbulent lifestyle, to be understood by the locals and the general public,” said Sridharan. He said the neglected cave temples created by Jain saints and kings in the southern part of Vallimalai should be taken over by ASI or “otherwise we would lose these valuable messages to anti-social activities in these caves,” he said.
Further, he said, Jain saints had evolved these caves as monasteries of peace and social work where they had extended healthcare to locals and inscriptions in this regard could be found out in Vallimalai caves. These monuments contained wealth of information, which were relevant even today and hence should be protected, he added. Sridharan and his team have been undertaking ‘Ahimsa Walks’ since January 2014 mostly in Villupuram district to promote the concept of Ahimsa and to create awareness about the Jain saints of yesteryear who preached ahimsa.
“We started our first walk in Chenji area in Villupuram to create awareness on many abandoned sites that contained Jain monuments. An estimated 500 such sites are present in the State and we would like to organise walks to highlight the significance of each one of them while emphasising the need for protecting them,” he added.
Professor Ramesh, who is heading the Departments of History and Archaeology at a private college in Villupuram and is participating in the walk, said the Sunday walk was the first one in Vellore district. “We usually study the inscriptions in the abandoned sites and document the same during walks,” he said. The abandoned monuments in the caves in the southern part of the Vallimalai Hills eulogised the period of Ganga dynasty in Vellore region during the eighth century, he added.
Noted epigrapher Venkatesan(retired director of ASI), who accompanied the team, quoting an inscription found in Vallimalai caves, said a Jain monastery had been established there by the Ganga King Rajamalla after he captured this region from Chola king and another one at Seeyamangalam.
The next walk by the team would be in Tiruvannamalai district in Seeyamangalam area near Thellar to create awareness about some abandoned Jain caves in the region next month.