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Sithannavasal Caves

Sithannavasal Caves, one of the most significant tourist places, is a combination of 2nd century Jain temples carved out of caves. There are lots of cave temples situated all over India and Sithannavasal is one of the most prominent and most-visited of them all. This is located in the district of Pudukottai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The history of these caves dates back to around 2nd century BC and according to experts, this was the place where the great Jain monks and sidhhars resided. Sithannavasal means “abode of the great saints” in Sanskrit language. This place is located at about 58km from Tiruchirapalli or Trichy, a famous spot in Tamil Nadu. The hill on which the Sithannavasal cave temple is situated is 70m tall. All along the hill, there are many Jain monuments located and they are visual delights for the tourist.

The Sithannavasal village was a well-developed place during the times of the Jains (around 7th to 9th century AD). Many cave-paintings and historic sites that could be traced back to 1st century BC were excavated from this place, thereby proving the rich history of the caves.  Also known as Arivar Koil, the Sithannavasal Cave traces its history to 7th century BC. The paintings that are found inside the temple are of “fresco-secco” pattern, these are quite intricate and make use of lots of mineral colours. Even today, we can see paintings of potus, flowers, pond, people collecting water from the pond, lilies, fish, elephants, etc. done in this pattern inside the cave. Lots of green, blue and purple shades were used to paint these images. The ceiling of the Arthamandapam is intricately carved and adorned with 7th century murals on them. As tourists go inside the cave, they can see many more sculptures of the Jain Thirthankaras and other Jain saints. However, the disappointing thing is that these frescoes are not maintained properly as a result of which they were subject to attacks in the last few decades. Initially, the entire premise of the cave temple was well-protected with a full plaster cover, but this method was not followed consistently. All the paintings inside the cave temple follow “Jaina Samavasarana that indicates these paintings prove to be the divine and beautiful platform to attain Nirvana and Khatika Bhuma.


Excavations done on the megalithic sites next to Sithannavasal suggest that the village has been inhabited right from the 1st century BC. The temple is dated back to the times of noted Pallava ruler, Mahendra Varman I (580 – 630AD). The megalithic excavations done here also proved that Jainism was the most flourishing religion here between 1st and 10th centuries AD. After the rule of the Pallavas, the temple came under the control of Pandyas. Inscriptions suggest the rule of a Pandya ruler named Maran Sendan (654-670AD) or Arikesari Maravarman (670-700AD). This cave temple, replete with many Jain monuments and sculptures of Jain Thirthankaras, was considered as the most significant place of worship by the Jains, till 9th century CE.

Visitor Information

It is best to visit these cave temples from October to March. This is the time when the climate is pleasant and comfortable. The months between April and May are too hot in the areas around Trichy and hence there are chances of high discomfort when the cave temple is visited during this time. Entry into the caves is free for kids and adults and it takes close to 2 hours for enjoying the beauty of the caves, paintings, sculpture etc.

How to Reach

Tourists who want to go to Sithannavasal can first reach Pudukottai district and then go to the temple by bus, car, taxi etc.

By Bus

There are lots of buses that go to Pudukottai district, from almost all the districts in Tamil Nadu. Government and private sector buses (luxury, deluxe, Volvo coaches, AC, non-AC and many more) can be used to reach Pudukottai district. The frequency of these buses is also quite high.

By Train

The main railway junction of Pudukottai is about 2km from Sithannavasal caves and is the nearest railhead to this temple.

By Air

Trichy Airport, at a distance of 34km, is the nearest airport to Sithannavasal caves. There are lots of domestic flights that connect Trichy with Chennai, Bangalore, Madurai, Kochi and almost all South Indian cities. Tourists coming in from north or abroad can first reach Chennai airport and then take a flight from there to Trichy.

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