Rock-cut Jain temple called Arivarkovil or Arivar Temple alias Temple of the Arhats is situated at Sittannavasal near Trichy in Tamilnadu. It was built during the region of Pallava King Mahendravarman I (580–630 AD). The temple was renovated during the reign of the Pandya kings, in between AD 654 and AD 670. This temple is rich in sculptures and mural paintings. This caves is believed to be in use from second century AD.
Rock-cut Jaina temple at Sittannavasal is believed to be built during the reign of Pandya Dynasty rulers Maran Sendan (AD 654- 670) and Arikesari Maravarman (AD 670-700). Arikesari Maravarman was a Jain, before being converted to a Hindu.
You need to climb around 100 steps or so to reach this rock cut cave temple. Within the hall, there are rock cut sculptures of Jain Tirthankara Parsvanatha in seated in meditation pose with a five hooded serpent above his head. There is also another rock cut sculpture of a saint seated in meditation pose under an umbrella. Behind this sculpture, there is an inscription which reads as Tiruvasiriyan (great teacher).
In the sanctum area of Arivarkovil or Arivar kovil, three rock cut sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras can be seen.
Temple of the Arhats has many mural paintings made with vegetable and mineral dyes. The theme of the paintings is Samavasarana, one among the Jain heavens. A large tank with full of lotus flowers is painted on the tiles. Elephants, goose, buffaloes and fishes are also painted here (each symbol represent different tirthankara).
Rock-cut Jain temple at Sittannavasal figures are related to the time of Pandya king Srimara Srivallabha. You can also see the sculpture of the queen (wife of PandyaKing Srimara Srivallabha) paying respects to a famous saint from Madurai, Ilam Gautaman.
The name Sittannavasal is derived from Sit-tan-na-va-yil, which means “the abode of great saints” in the local language, Tamil.
How Do I Go to Arivarkovil at Sittannavasal?
Pudukkottai is the nearest major town, at around 16 kilometers distance from the Arivar kovil.
Arivarkovil is at a distance of around 58 kilometers from Thiruchirapally alias Trichy, a major town in the state of Tamilnadu.
There is an Entrance Fee of Rupees 25 to be paid for Indians and SAARC citizens. Others, need to pay an entry fee of Rupees 300. Children up to the age of 15 need not buy entry tickets.