There are many natural caverns in and around Madurai which once served as the abodes of Jain monks. The caves are found amidst picturesque surroundings. The natural caverns were made suitable for habitation by cutting stone beds in them. The beds were chiseled smooth with one side raised a little to serve as pillows. The over hanging rock was cut in the form of drip ledge so as to prevent rain water flowing into the cave shelters.

We have listed only four of the caves to wet your appetite. We have selected them on the basis of accessibility and the historical importance. We are taking steps to make several other caverns easily accessible and protected for tourists to visit. Among the many such caverns few have been identified for easy accessibility to the hills by road and caves themselves. These caves are located on three major highways from Madurai

Samanamalai & Pechipallam

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Samanamalai & Pechipallam It is located in the village of Kuyilkudi about 8 km west of Madurai city near Nagamalai Pudukkottai on Madurai – Theni Highway. At the southern part of the hill is Settipodavu, a cavern with images and inscriptions dating back to 9th Century A.D. At the centre of the hill after climbing a bit on the hill, there is a galaxy of Jaina sculpture...

Yanaimalai

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Yanaimalai On the Madurai – Trichy highway, about 8 km North of Madurai, Yanaimalai (Elephant Hill) is located on the western side of the highway. On the south western side of the hill, a Jain school was run in a natural cave that dates back to 1 CAD. Many stone beds as well as bas – relief sculptures of Thirthankars are found in this cave. Vattel...

Keelavalavu

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Keelavalavu On the Madurai – Melur – Thiruppathur – Karaikudi road, about 45 km from Madurai, there is a hillock before the Keelavalavu village, just off the highway. In this cavern, Jain schools existed from 2 CBC to 12 CAD. There are many stone beds, and natural spring found in the caverns as was typically seen in other Jain schools. Brahmi...

Arittapatti

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Arittapatti It is a small village located 25km from Madurai off Melur road. The hillock which looks like a pack of rocks is steeped in 2300 years old history. On one side of the hill are natural Jain caves called Pandava Padukkai and on the other side, a rock -cut Siva temple. Pandava Padukkai has got nothing to do with the Pandavas of Mahabharatham. Yet peopl...

Kazhugumalai

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Kazhugumalai It is located about 120 km from Madurai off the highway to Kanyakumari. It is situated near Kovilpatti on the main road to Sankarankovil from Kovilpatti. The hill where the Jain School was situated is named Thirumalai and Araimalai in inscriptions. Unfortunately, the natural caverns and beds that served as an abode of Jain monks have been converted...