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9th century Jain bas relief found

Author: M T Saju, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 15, 2016
URL:   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/9th-century-Jain-bas-relief-found/articleshow/52755270.cms?

A 9th century bas relief of Parshwanath and some ruined Jain beds have been discovered on Mudipalli, a hill near Tiruttani, about 90km from here.

Jain priest P Nagakumar and his friends decided to climb the hill in search of an idol of Buddha said to be nestling inside a rock dwelling, according to local villagers.

The relief, however, was that of Parshwanath, the 23rd Thirthankara of Jainism, and not that of Buddha. The team also found some ruined rock beds and a tiny tank supposed to have been used to grow medicinal plants.

"The relief faces ruins and we couldn't spot it while ascending the hill. It was while returning we could see this great piece of art," said Nagakumar, who is a priest at a nearby Jain temple.

Nagakumar and his friends could reach just half way up the hill. He said there could be more sculptures and beds atop the hill, for which further excavation was needed.

As the hill is located on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border, the archaeology departments of both states have shown no interest in maintaining the site, which could be one of the ancient Jain settlements in the region.

Scholar K Ajithadoss, who inspected the site recently, said, "Mudipalli falls is located on the border of two states. Sculptures of Jain Thirthankaras have been discovered from nearby places like Nagallapuram (Andhra) and Punniyam (TN).

It shows that the region must have been a place of great significance for the Jains once."

"The style of the bas relief shows it was done somewhere during the 9th century AD. May be even earlier. We have to study more the Jain sculptures found here," said Ajithadoss.

With the support of the local people and heritage enthusiasts, Nagakumar organized an awareness meet in Mudipalli a couple of weeks ago.

"There are many Jain sites which lie unnoticed in the region. Mudipalli alone deserves a large-scale excavation. It was difficult to climb the barren rock-hill so we could reach only half way up. We are planning to climb it again and we hope we will find more sculptures," said Nagakumar.
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