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Mangulam inscriptions
Mangulam inscriptions explained
Mangulam inscription no.2 explained

Mangulam or Mankulam is a village in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is located 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Madurai.[1] The inscriptions discovered in the region are the earliest Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions.[2][3]


A hill in the region which is known as Mangulam hill or Kalugumalai[4] (eagle hill) or Ovamalai,[1] is where Tamil Jain monks lived in the caves during when their religion flourishing in the ancient Tamil country. They converted the caves into their Palli (monastery)[5] and lived here until the 9th century CE.[3]

Mangulam inscriptions were discovered by Robert Sewell in the caves of the hill in 1882.[6] This was the earliest finding of such kind of inscriptions. In 1906, Indian epigraphist V. Venkayya tried to read the inscriptions and found that it similar to the Brahmi script in Ashokan edicts, he thought that the inscriptions were in Pali language.[7][8] In 1919, epigraphist H. Krishna Sastri identified few Tamil words in the inscriptions.[8] In 1924, K. V. Subrahmanya Aiyar discovered that inscriptions are in Tamil with Prakrit loan words in the Brahmi script and concluded that script is Tamil-Brahmi.[6] In 1965, Iravatham Mahadevan recorded the inscriptions in the caves[2] and dated it to the 2nd century BCE.[9]

There are five caves in the hill of which six inscriptions are found in four caves.[6] These were inscribed during Sangam period, hence it is considered as one of the important inscriptions in Tamil Nadu.[10] The inscriptions mentions that workers of Nedunchezhiyan, a Pandyan king of Sangam period, made stone beds for Jain monks. It further details the name of worker for whom he made stone bed. For example, an inscription shows that Kadalan Vazhuthi, a worker of Nedunchezhiyan made stone bed to Jain monk Nanda Sirikuvan.[11] It is one of the protected monuments in Tamil Nadu by the Archaeological Survey of India.[12]

Archeologists found sherds, sling stones[1] and an ancient burial site[13] during the excavation in the region. In 2007, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department excavated the ruins of the Jain prayer halls of Sangam period.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Mangulam". Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b Iravatham Mahadevan (2003). Early Tamil epigraphy from the earliest times to the sixth century A.D. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01227-1.
  3. ^ a b "Kalugumalai". University of Bonn. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  4. ^ Gaṇeśa Lālavānī (1991). Jainthology: An Anthology of Articles Selected from the Jain Journal of Last 25 Years. Jain Bhawan.
  5. ^ Prema Kasturi; Chithra Madhavan (2007). South India heritage: an introduction. East West Books (Madras). ISBN 978-81-88661-64-0.
  6. ^ a b c d "Jaina treasure trove in Mankulam village". The Hindu. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  7. ^ "பழந்தமிழ்க் கல்வெட்டுகள்" (in Tamil). Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  8. ^ a b Iravatham Mahadevan. "Indological essays — Pulli in the Tamil Brahmi Script". Department of Statistics, Madras Christian College. Internet Archive. pp. 146–147. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  9. ^ John D. Bengtson (January 2008). In Hot Pursuit of Language in Prehistory: Essays in the Four Fields of Anthropology : in Honor of Harold Crane Fleming. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 427–. ISBN 90-272-3252-0.
  10. ^ "An epigraphic perspective on the antiquity of Tamil". The Hindu. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  11. ^ "மாங்குளம் தமிழ்க் கல்வெட்டுக்கள்" (in Tamil). Tamil Virtual University. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Protected Monuments in Tamil Nadu". Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 25 February 2014. S. No.8 — Ovamalai Kalvettu (inscriptions)
  13. ^ "Jain vestiges". The Hindu. 5 July 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2014.

Coordinates: 10°01′51″N 78°20′21″E / 10.0309°N 78.3392°E / 10.0309; 78.3392