Kalugumalai Jain rock-cut temple, Tamil Nadu, an important National Monument

Kalugumalai rock carvings.Know Your Heritag

Tamil Nadu has many rock cut temples, a good example is those at Mahabalipuram near Chennai city and the Tiruchy Rock Fort temple (Malaikottai) at Tiruchirapalli. 

Of particular interest to  us are those of Kalugumalai Jain beds in Kalugumalai, in Thoothukudi district in the SE Tamil Nadu,  Dedicated to the Jain and Hindu religious figures in rock cut style,  the unfinished temple is  said o have been built during the reign of Pandyan king Parantaka Nedunjadaiya (768-800 CE). It exemplifies  the rock-cut architecture and craftsmanship of  early Pandya period. Also included are the other portions of Kalugumalai that have the 8th century unfinished Shiva temple, Vettuvan Koil and Kalugasalamoorthy Temple, a Murugan temple at the foothills.

Kalugumalai rock carvings.newsnviews.online
Kazhugasalamoorthy Murugan temple//en.wikipedia.org/

Amazingly, there are as many as 150 niches in the  beds that contain images  of Jain saints - Gomateshwara, Parshvanatha and other Tirthankaras It shows the influence of Jainism in this part of Tamil Nadu. It is a protected monument under the administration of  Department of Archaeology of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

The rock cut carvings and the caves, according to researchers, suggest the prevalence of  Digambara sect of Jainism in this  region. It is said in the recent century  some of the Digambaras  wanted to  replace the idol of Murugan in the lower cave temple with that of Mahavira. We also come to know the important  role of women in Jainism along with  their male counterparts. In the Monastic Order; women held higher position and travalled far and wide. Among the 21 places where women carried on their religious duty,  Kalugumalai is one. In the District of Ramanathapuram, there are five places of jain worship, one in Kanchipuram district, four in Kanyakumari district. Through these places, the Jain religious workers including women promoted education . From the inscriptions  we understand that  the Pandyan rulers gave due importance to education and established an education centre on the model of  a Jain University near Kanyakumari exclusively for women. The conclusion one can draw from the records is Jainism had an upper hand over Buddhism in this region and Madurai had a large community of Jains. 
Kalugumalai rock-cut temple. Tamil Nadu Tamilnadu Tourism
Ramanathapuram Raja gifted five  villages to the Hindu temple - 
Kalugumalai rock carvings. paadunar
Alugasalamoorthy Temple  and the hill was under the control of  Ettaiyapuram Zamindar until 1954. Kalugumalai is about 21 km from Kovilpatti and 22 km from Sankarankovil.