Antiquity of Jainism in Andhra Pradesh

The antiquity of Jainism cannot be disputed as the most ancient religion in the word as the most ancient texts of Hinduism, i.e. the Vedas and the Puranas also mention the fact. However, in the passage of time, it declined considerably. Today also, countless ancient statues of Jain Tirthankars are excavated by archaeologists which prove its antiquity. One such region where Jainism used to thrive but declined subsequently is the Andhra-Telangana belt. Today we can find several relics which tell us about the glorious past of this region.

My recent wanderings took me to these remote areas of Andhra Pradesh of which Jain’s seldom know about. Although this region has witnessed the growth of many new tirths, let us go through a virtual trip to those places which have significant antiquity related to it.

For the detailed map click here

We start from Kulpakji Tirth which is approximately 80 km from Hyderabad city.

Kulpakji Tirth
One of the most famous Jain pilgrimages of the Andhra region is the Kulpakji tirth. Nearly 6 km away from the Aler railway station in the Nallagonda district of Andhra Pradesh, lies the ancient temple of Kulpakji which houses the very ancient 42” beautiful pratimaji of Shri Adinath Bhagwan, also fondly called “Manikyaswami” by the locals in the “Ardha-Padmasan” mudra.

According to Vividha Tirtha Kalpa (14th century) of Acharya Jinaprabhasuri, the statue was made from the Markat Mani (Emerald) encrusted in the ring of King Bharat Chakravarti (the eldest son of Lord Adinath). After years of penance, the demi-gods gifted this statue to Lankeshwar Ravana who used to worship the deity till his last breath. After the destruction of Lanka, the demi gods requested his queen, Mandodari to submerge the deity in the ocean, where the Samudra dev’s worshipped it for years. Subsequently, after 11 lakh 80 thousand years, demi gods on being pleased with the penance of Raja Shankar of the Kalyan Kingdom gifted this deity to him, who constructed this beautiful temple towering 81ft and housed this deity. He also installed a very beautiful, cheerful and miraculous 51” statue of Shri Mahavir Swami Bhagwan made from a single piece of Jade (Feroza Stone). This type of statue cannot be found elsewhere and is considered very miraculous.


A number of Jain antiquities have been discovered in Kulpak. The region flourished as a Jain center during the Rashtrakuta period. Over 20 Jain inscriptions have been found at Kulpak. The Jain activity declined after 1276 AD and was re-established in 1711 AD when the temple was renovated.


Kulpakji Jinalay

Jade stone statue of Shri Mahavir Swami Bhagwan

Mulnayak Shri Adinath Bhagwan- Manikyaswami

Gummileru Tirth
On travelling 420km eastwards from Kulpakji (via Vijaywada), lies the sleepy village of Gummileru on the east bank of Godavari river near to the Bay of Bengal. In 1977, during construction of the national highway 5 in this village, ancient statues of lord Parshwanath and other Tirthankars were excavated in the “Ardha-Padmasan” mudra. On inspection of these statues, historians derived that these belonged to the Mauryan age were approximately 2000 years ancient. The locals started worshipping the deity and later, the Jain sangh placed these statues on a beautiful Jain temple erected on the very spot where these statues were excavated. Acharya Shri Jayantsen Surishwarji maharaja re-installed the statues in 2006.


Gummileru Tirth

Mulnayak Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan

Achanta
Nearly 34 km from Gummileru lies the beautiful Achanta village nestled in palm groves on the banks of the Godavari river. Recently a 66” idol of Lord Padmaprabhu swami in “Ardha-Padmasan” mudra was found from a nearby pond. Inscriptions on the statue show that the idol is 2600 years ancient. The temple was erected and the statue was re-installed recently by disciples of Acharya Shri Bhuvanbhanu Surishwarji Maharaja.


Achanta Temple

Shri Padmaprabhu Swami

Pedamiram Tirth
In the West Godavari district, around 5 km from Bhimavaram town and 45 km from Achanta, lies the Pedamiram tirth where the” Jata-yukt” 45” ancient and beautiful statue of Shri Adinath Bhagwan in “Ardha-Padmasan” mudra was excavated 130 years ago. The inscriptions on the statue date back to the Mauryan period and state that the statue is approximately 2500 years ancient. The idol is equally revered by the non-jains who have great faith in the lord. It has been witnessed over the years that whenever the idol was bathed with 108 coconuts, droughts used to get converted into rains.


Pedamiram Jinalay

Mulnayak Shri Adinath Bhagwan

Gudivada Tirth
In the main bazaar of Gudivada town, 60 km from Pedamiram tirth lies the beautiful temple of Shree Parshwanath Bhagwan. The statues of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan in “Ardha-Padmasan” mudra were excavated from an unknown basement of a Shiva Temple opposite to the Jain temple during its renovation. Inscriptions on the statues date back to the 8th century.


Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan

Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan

Amaravathi Tirth
Around 80 km from Gudivada , on the banks of the Krishna river, lies the Amaravathi Tirth in the Amaravathi city which was recently declared as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. In 1905, the Parikar-yukt pratimaji of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan was found from the Krishna river and was subsequently installed on its banks. Inscriptions on the statue date back 1000 years. Very recently the structure was renovated and a Shikharbandh jinalay was constructed on the spot.


Amaravathi Tirth
Pedda-Tumblam Parshwamani Tirth.
Nearly 600 km from Amaravathi city towards Karnataka, lies the Parshwamani tirth in the village of Pedda-Tumblam (17km from Adoni town). Around 60 years back during digging of a well in the village the Shyam Varn, Lakshan Yukt beautiful idol of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan was excavated along with statues of 2 Tirthankar Chovisis, Parshwa-Yaksh and Padmavati Devi. What makes this idol so unique is that although Jata is only found in idols of Adinath Bhagwan, this idol is bestowed with long locks on Parshwanath Bhagwan. The idol was excavated along with its Aasan in “Ardha-Padmasan” mudra. Upon excavation, the locals refused to part with the statues to Jain sangh, therefore a beautiful temple was constructed on the same spot. Inscriptions on the statue state that the statue was installed in 12th century. The statue of Shri Padmavati Devi is also very unique and such statues are not found elsewhere. This temple was renovated in 2008.


Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan

Jata on Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan

Shri Padmavati Devi

Parshwamani Jinalay

Let us all pledge to visit these wonderful tirths once in our lifetime to witness divinity in antiquity !

Comments

  1. Namo Jinanam.... Very useful information of all Jain tirths, plz add more tirths info in this region, eagerly waiting to explore more tirth

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