Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Asiatische und Islamische Kunstgeschichte


Pārśvanātha Temple complex

The large Jaina temple complex at Melsittamur consists of several walled temple compounds.

Pārśvanātha Temple

The Pārśvanātha Temple has a later open pillared hall, positioned on the ground, followed by a raised porch. The porch contains a model representation of Sameṭa-śikhara (sacred hill in Bihar), and has a lateral shrine dedicated to Dharma Devī, protruding from the north side. The closed hall of the Pārśvanātha Temple has four narrow tables of varying dimensions with a multitude of images, a gandha-kuṭī light frame and representations of the  eight auspicious symbols (aṣṭa-maṅgala), all grouped around the central pillared area of the hall. Other prominent temples inside the complex are the Nemināthe Temple and the Pañca Mandir.

View towards the Jaina temple complex © Julia A.B. Hegewald
View towards the Pārśvanātha Temple © Julia A.B. Hegewald
The image of Pārśvanātha is bathed with a mixture of milk and water © Julia A.B. Hegewald

Mallinātha Jinā-laya

The Mallinātha Temple at Melsittamur is a ninth to tenth-century Coḷa temple. Its unusual nature derives from the fact that it has been constructed around an earlier rock-cut relief, displaying several Jaina statues. The temple contains an unusual triple light frame (gandha-kuṭī), where the three frames have been lined up sideways in front of the three shrine doorways . The shrine houses the rock-cut images of the Jinas. In this triple frame, the traditional oil lamps have not yet been replaced with electric lights and are still used in the ancient ways.

Temple compound from outside © Julia A.B. Hegewald
View towards the temple from the northeast © Julia A.B. Hegewald
View towards the shrine © Julia A.B. Hegewald

Jaina maṭha

The triple-storeyed Jaina maṭha at Melsittamur was constructed in 1915. It represents the headquarters of the Tamil Jainas and primarily serves as the permanent residence of the bhaṭṭāraka. The maṭha has one open and one enclosed courtyard. The covered court at the front of the building was probably never open to the air. A metal grid, however, still establishes a connection between the ground and the first floor halls. The second floor has been provided with a solid roof. The open courtyard is located behind this main building, facing the large temple complex at the site.

View towards the maṭha from the west © Julia A.B. Hegewald
Side view © Julia A.B. Hegewald
Inside view © Julia A.B. Hegewald
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