It's been long since I heard of this place first. For some reason we could not made it to so far. This time while at the Pazhassi Raja memorial in Mananthavadi, we saw the photographs of the ruined Jain temples on display in the museum. The guides at the museum were kind enough to give direction to the Jain temple at Panamaram from Thirunelli, where we stayed overnight.
So Panamaram was the first item in the itinerary. As we drive out of the Thirunelli forest, at the Thettu Road we noticed something interesting. A pleasant surprise! It was that elusive shop we were trying to figure out since long. That's another story anyway.
After a steep left turn after crossing the Panamaram river (a tributary to Kabini) we were on the road to Beenachi. The Jain temples are a little away from this road. In fact the first Jain temple needed no sign as the facade projects well on to the road.
Its open and unguarded. Though in ruins and shrubs grown all around, its amazing to see the structure and its sculptural art quite well preserved.
Like the lady guides at Pazhassi Raja memorial explained to us, the Jain temple contained a great deal of Vaishnava iconography, on every pillar of the 'Ardha Mantapa' and also on the doorjambs of the sanctorum. The sanctorum was empty however. The image of the Tirthankara, once stood inside the sanctorum could have been moved to another temple or museum.
By looking at the layout and style of architecture, one thing is sure. It was an important place of worship during the functional days of this temple.
For the second temple, we got back to the main road to Beenachi and drove a little ahead in the direction of Nadavayal. This temple was less obvious, except the sign post by the tourism department.
The temple was quite small compared to the first one. Also its buried deep inside a coffee plantation. The sanctorum and the cubical 'Ardha Mantapa' is intact. I would see a big pile of crumbled granite slabs, possibly parts of a stairway that led to a stream beneath the slop.
If you are traveling between Mananthavady and Kalpetta or between Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery, its a short de-tour from a small town called Panamaram.
Both the Jain temples are about 3km from the Panamaram village square. At Panamaram, just at the end of that big bridge take the diversion to Mathoor. If in doubt , ask for the Nadavayal road via Mathoor. After 2½km you'll see a junction with a left diversion. This diversion can take you to Kuruva Island also. Take this road , about ½ km ahead you can see the porch and the pavilion of the temple projecting on to the road.
For the second Jain temple, return to the Nadavayal road junction and proceed towards Nadavayal. At about ½km you can spot a tiny signpost by the Kerala tourism directing to the Jain temple. A jeep track through the plantation pass by this temple (about 100 meters from the main road).
A tailpiece: Both these temples are inside privately owned coffee plantation. Its needless to say to maintain the etiquette expected, both to preserve a valuable remains of the heritage as well as not to trouble the plantation.