Tag Archives: Kallil temple

Jain Temples of Calicut

Entrance of Calicut Jain temple, south of Valiyangadi and west of railway station. Also known as Setji Lalji Jain temple managed by the Gujrati diasporic community of Jains

The Jains who belong to the Swetambara sect from Gujarat believe that it is more than 2000 years old. According to legend the present temple was eructed at the site of an ancient Jain temple that was converted to a Hindu temple in the 9th century.  The Zamorin of Calicut returned the temple to the Jains after repeated appeals in the middle ages.  The current structure has undergone a series of modifications over the ages.

Old Jain Basati, Calicut. Returned to the Jains by the Zamorin after their appeal. Originally Jain, Hinduized in the early middle ages and returned to the Jains later.  More than 2000 years old.

M R Raghava Varier observes that the current temple shows medieval architectural and iconographic style (2012: 39).  It was built on the site of an older temple having round sanctum sanctorum and granite base.  The Calicut Jain temple is locally known as the Aryan Trikovil.  It stands in Trikovil lane.  The local name showing the regional tone also suggests its antiquity.  It is said that the relics of the old Digambara temple is still in the vaults of the current temple.  Raghava Varier adds that apart from this temple Thalapozha, north of Mananthavady alone, is associated with the Swetambara sect.

Interior of the new Jain Basati, Calicut, built by the Gujarati trading community of Swetambara Jains

Today there are two temples inside the courtyard.  One old and one new.  both have exquisite sculptures in wood and plaster.  The old temple has a treasure trove of wooden carvings.  The detailed wooden sculptures represent the iconographic connection between the Hindu and Jain temple architecture.  Saraswati and Lakshmi images are seen all over the place.  Distinct Gujarati style icons and idols are also on display.

Wood-carvings in front of the old Jain temple, Calicut


Varier, M R Raghava. 2012. Jainamatham Keralathil.  Kottayam: N B S.

A White-rumped Munia at the Jain Temple Calicut. 14 July 2012

Link to more information

Jain Sage in a Hindu Temple: Paruvassery Pallyara

Jaina Thirthankara idol in Paruvassery Pallyara Bhagavathy temple, Vadakanchery, 26 Jan 2012

Paruvassery temple near Vadakanchery in Alathur taluk of Palakad district is an ancient shrine of Jain antiquity.  It is around 5km north of Vadakanchery town on NH 47 between Thrissur and Palakkad.  It is locally called Pallyarakavu showing clear linkages to Pally the Pali word signifying a non Hindu sacred space.  Now it is a Hindu temple and is called Pallyara Bhagavathy temple where the idol of the goddess is worshiped in the central shrine.  The granite idol of the Jain Thirthankara is placed  outside the Nalambala complex in a roofless shrine towards north west.  It is facing east.  The temple is facing north and is surrounded by wooded domestic plots.  There is also a Siva temple nearby with a small sacred grove with Naga deities and a large pond nearby.

Paruvassery Pallyarakavu temple, Thirthankara shrine towards left, outside the complex

The temple overlooks vast paddy fields and a lotus pond.  Nelliampathy Mountains dote the background with a few Palmyra palms in the foreground.  A Pipal and mango tree stand before the temple in deep embrace.  When I visited the place with friend Madhavadas from Thrissur in the evening of 26 Jan 2012 there were plenty of birds around.  Parakeets and Mynas were vocal on the great Pipal.  Jacanas were busy in the drying lotus pond.  Small Green Bee-eaters were sitting pretty on the electric wire as if they were ruminating over the Sramana past of the place.  Palm swifts were flying around and egrets were returning to their roosts.

Open shrine in which Thirthankara idol is kept outside the Paruvassery Pallyarakavu temple

The Jina idol is in black granite and is around two feet high.  Yaksha and Yakshi figures adorn its left and right.  The iconic three-tied umbrella is clearly visible over the head of the sage.  This Jain marker confirms the religious affiliation of the statue.  The Jina is seated in Padmasana and early interpreters mistook the image as that of Buddha.  The face and head of the relief is mutilated and it could be a clear imprint of obliteration attempts during the takeover and conversion of the temple into a Hindu Brahmanical one.  This mutilation mark is also similar to the destructive mark on the Jina image at Kallil temple near Perumbavur and the half demolished Buddha at Karumady, popularly known as karumady Kuttan.

Ayyappa shrine near Pallyara temple. Said to be Swayambhu. Having Jain antiquity

Historians and researchers like M R Raghava Varier, K T Ravivarma, V V K Valath and others have recorded and written extensively on the Jain antiquity of Paruvassery Bhagavathy temple.  It shows the modification of Sramana shrines into Hindu Brahmanical temples that occurred in the period from 8-12thcenturies in Kerala.  The general pattern is changing the sub deities of goddesses or Yakshis attending the Thirthankaras into main deities called Bhagavathy or goddess and cleverly excluding and erasing the main deity in a systematic way.  Another small shrine towards a few miles east now dedicated to Ayyappa is also having Jain antiquity as it is referred as Swayambhu or self originate.  The pre existing Sramana temples and idols were termed as Swayambhu by Brahmanism all over south India. The examples at Kallil and Paruvassery show such iconographic and architectural modifying strategies of Brahmanical invasion in Kerala.

Madhavadas before Paruvassery Pallyara temple


Ravivarma, K T. Pandathe Malayalakara

Valath, V V K. Thrissur Jilla

—-. Palakad Jilla

Nelliampathy ranges beyond the paddyfields at Paruvassery