Jain Temples of Wayanad
The Jain temples of Wayanad are a major tourist attraction. Jainism which shares with Hinduism the concepts of nirvana and reincarnation, first arrived in Kerala around the 3rd century BC. The original settlers migrated from Mysore in Karnataka and settled at Panamaram on the banks of Kabani River. From there the Jain groups spread to different parts of Wayanad.
Of the many Jain temples in Wayanad, the Glass temple of Kottamunda located 20 kilometers away from Kalpetta on the slopes of the Vellarimala is worth a visit. Locally known as Kannadi Kshetram, the temple is dedicated to Paraswanath Swami, the third Tirthankara of the Jain faith. It is believed to have been constructed 200 years ago. The highlight of the temple is the set of mirrors placed on the inner side of the temple walls, which reflects the image of the idols into a thousand beautiful patterns.
The Ananthanatha Swami Jain temple at Sultan Bathery is another example. This 13th-century temple has splendid stone carvings and is one of the most important amongst a series of ruins spread across the state of Kerala that testify to a period of a strong Jain presence in this region. Made wholly of granite, its stone slab roof is supported on numerous carved square pillars sitting on a raised platform. Intricate cornices run all along the sides. The inner sanctum surrounded by an open verandha holds a large square granite slab with carvings of Mahavir.
Other reminders of Jain influence include a small Jain temple perched atop a rocky outcropping a little way from Kalpetta. The boulder goes by the name of Myladipara, and during March every year devotees clamber up the slopes to perform pooja in the small shrine. The temples at Punchavayal and Puthenangadi are other significant Jain remnants in Wayanad. Despite there being so many Jain temples in the district, there are only around 1500 Jain families in Wayanad today.