A few kilometres away from Panamaram in Wayanad — on the Punchavayal-Neervaram route, to be more precise — lies this stone structure that stands testimony to Wayanad’s long standing relationship with Jainism.
It is believed that Jains came to Wayanad in the Middle Ages. Considered to be among the first settlers in Wayanad, these Jains who came from Karnataka are said to have settled beside that part of Kabini River near Panamaram. To this day, Wayanad is home to a community of Kannada-speaking Jains whom the locals often refer to as Gowders. Wayanad is also home to a good number of Jain temples in several parts of the district, many of them functional with Jain priests to conduct the holy rituals.
Owing to its ancient history with Jains, Wayanad also has within its territory, a few age-old Jain temples that today attract visitors. Among these is this temple on the Neervaram road.
This Jain temple, now in ruins found its way into the tourism map of Wayanad just a few years ago. Due to its proximity to my place in Wayanad, I’ve seen this structure over a hundred times. However when we drove past this temple recently, I thought I should stop by and take some pictures for posterity.
Jutting out onto the road is a rectangular part of the temple that is sure to catch one’s eye while driving this way. Right at the middle of this structure is the entrance to the temple. The sculptured doorway lets you witness an admirable stone mantap supported by sculptured pillars. Look further inside and you will see what must have been the sanctum sanctorum.
Partly concealed by coffee estates, this Jain temple, to us locals (if I may call myself that) has always been what we called it Kal Amabalam (meaning Stone Temple). It might be featured in several brochures as a must-see location but it is not one that is overflowing with tourists all day. Given its long life, the extremely quiet locale it is part of and the sculpture you find here, more travellers deserve to see this ancient site.