- Famous for: Scenery, History, Architecture
- Entrance Fee: No entrance fee for this public place
- Visiting Time: Sunrise to Sunset (Daily)
- Visit Duration: 1 hour to 2 hours
The Samanar Hills is a hill complex located in the district of Madurai, present in the state of Tamil Nadu. Present in the village of Keelakuyilkudi, about 15 kilometers from the city of Madurai, this spot is revered for its historical and cultural significance. Locally known as Thiruvuruvagam, this is the prime location where the Jain monks lived about 2000 years ago and practiced their religion within this part of the country. Present on the hill, the caves consist of a lot of carvings within the walls, which depict their most famous and revered monks. The inscriptions in Tamil and Kannada give a lot of insight into the history of the location as well as their way of living and the rules that they follow. The serene location, with a storehouse of information on the Jain way of life within the monastery which was present there, makes it a totally worthwhile place to visit.
- Start climbing towards the top of the hill in the early mornings or evenings to escape the heat of the afternoons.
- The climb can take upto two hours.
- Visit before 6 PM as the space can get deserted after this time.
Things to Do
- Be transferred to a totally different timeline when you visit this historical site which has got an ancient ambience to it.
- A great place for adventure lovers, as there is a climb involved to the top of the hill, where the monastery once was.
- This is also a perfect place to photograph the carvings and inscriptions, as well as the view from the top of the hill.
- Look into the Karuppusamy temple at the foothills, which has also got some idols carved by the monks when they lived there.
- A beautiful lotus pond is situation nearby the temple which can be visited.
- Visit the numerous temples in and around the city of Madurai, especially the famed Meenakshi temple.
- The authentic food around the region has to be tasted at the various local eateries present within the premises.
- Shop within the local bazaars of the city to buy some handicraft products which the region is famous for.
Availability of Guides
Local guides are available to explain the history of the place and the various carvings and inscriptions. Their services can be availed for a certain fee.
Best Time to Visit
This hill complex can be visited at any time of the year. During the monsoons, the rainfall makes it impossible to climb up the hill. So, a better time to visit would be during the summer months of April to July and also the winter months of November to March when the climate is relatively mild. The summers can be really hot and hence it would be better to avoid the afternoons while visiting this spot.
How to Reach
Madurai is a central city visited by a large number of tourists annually. It has got its own international airport, railway station and bus stand, making the city easily accessible. Once we reach the city, the hills are about 15 kilometers away and can be reached by cabs and auto rickshaws, which are found in plenty throughout the city. There is also a local bus to the village of Keelakuyilkudi, about four times a day, which can be used to reach the spot.
Interesting Facts and Trivia about the Samanar Hills
- Samanar Malai, as it is locally known as, translates to the hills of the Jain.
- A lot of stone beds which were used by the monks to rest on, can be found here.
- There are two major caves located within this complex. Settipodavu is more easily accessible while the cave of Pecipallam, containing about eight sculpures, requires a more arduous climb.
- The carving of Mahavira, the last tirthankara of the Jain religion is found within the cave of Settipodavu.
- There are also sculptures of other great personalities of Jainism like Gomateshwara, Yaksha and Yakshi found within these premises.
- Sri Meenakshi Temple
- Gandhi Museum
- Koodal Azhagar Temple
- British Bakery
- Murugan Idli Shop
- Bamboo Garden
- Sree Sabarees
- Heaven’s Park Fried Chicken
This eye-opening spot, located in the region where a rich culture and way of life has prevailed, is lesser visited by tourists, making it a serene location to look into. The core of the Jain religion along with its history, can be known by visiting this abode of their monks.