Inscriptions in Tamil Brahmi at Perumalmalai and a Jain idol carving near Samanarmalai, Tamil Nadu. These writings, idols and the caves are attributed to the Jain monks who lived in these areas more than 2000 years ago. Though most people don’t know about it, Jains have had a huge impact on Tamil Nadu through culture and language.

There is still a small community of ethnic Tamil Jains living in the state. Known as the samanar, they used to be a dominant group, who are now reduced to a tiny minority. We discovered these historic treasures and met a number of people from the community on the 53rd Ahimsa Walk. The Ahimsa Walk is an effort to raise awareness about these legacies, set in stone, and alive in the samanars of Tamil Nadu. [The inscription are dated to 3rd century BCE or older, this is amongst the oldest decipherable writings anywhere in India. The carved idol is dated to around 8th or 9th century CE. The inscriptions say “Kavai” and “Saialan (from) Vindai (village has donated these caves)”]