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Chittamur – Reputed Jaina Center Of Digambara Sect In Tamil Nadu

Chittamur, located 20 kilometers northwest of Tindivanam and ten kilometers east of Gingee, is a reputed Jaina center of the Digambara sect in Tamil Nadu. Chittamur has been the headquarters of the Digambara Jaina community with a matha (mutt) presided over by a succession of pontiffs, catering to the spiritual aspirations of the people, from the time of its inception down to modern times. The matha at this place, commonly known as the Jina Kanchi Matha, is one of the four important pontifical seats in India. It was established by Virasenacarya of Uppuvelur in the 16th Century CE.

There are two Jaina temples in Chittamur.

The first temple, the Malainatha temple, enshrines an oblong panel representing Neminatha, Adinatha, Parshvanatha and Bahubali carved on a single boulder. It was built in the 9th century CE.

An ancient stone inscription indicating an endowment made by Mathiyan Arndigai who lived in Puttampur in Cholamandalam at this temple, belongs to the seventeenth year of the king Aditya Chola’s reign (888 CE). This temple consists of a sanctum sanctorum, mukha mandapa , a surrounding wall and a gopuram.

The second temple is a huge structural edifice dedicated to Parsvanatha, a 23rd Tirthankara and was built in the 12th century CE. Apart from the main temple of Parsvanatha, Neminatha and Dharmadevi are also enshrined here. There are also smaller shrines in the north wing of this temple for Brahmadeva, Ganadarar, and Goddess Saraswati, Padmavati and Jwalamalini.

Adjoining the Neminatha shrine a chitrakuta (picture gallery), alankara mandapa, manastambha, balipita and a dhwaja stambha are located in the eastern wing of the temple.

Small sculptures of 23 Tirthankaras, Dharanendra Yaksha and Padmavati Yakshiare also found here. The temples owe their origin to the time of the medieval Cholas. But alterations and additions were made in later times.