Bhagavati Chitharal

Bhagavati Chitharal

Other Temples, Kanyakumari District


Bhagawati, facing west

Other Deities

Mahavir, Ambika, Parshwanatha, Thirthankaras, Padmavati

Bhagavati Chitharal is a Jain Cave temple located on a hilltop. The shrine of Bhagavati was added later as an extension without creating any modification to the existing structure. The walk up to the temple starts a kilometer downhill. Gradual winding steps go up to the top. At the top are the remnants of a gopuram which was apparently struck by lightning and destroyed. It has been renovated to the base level. On one side of this structure is a small passage through rocks that goes down to the Cave Temple. On the north side of this cave are bas reliefs. The main carvings are that of Parshwanatha, Padmavati in standing posture next to each other, Mahavira in a sitting posture under a three-tiered parasol with a tree above and a standing figure of Ambika. Distributed in between and on top in rows are the images of many of the 24 Thirthankaras. The cave facing west comes next. Below the cave in front of it is a beautiful pond. Steps lead up to the cave from the pond. The cave temple has three entrances, and three sanctums inside, one each for Parshwanatha, Mahavir, and Padmavati. Padmavati was also revered by the Hindus and considered as part of the Hindu pantheon of gods. Thus this came to be considered a Bhagavati Temple. This is clearly a Jain Temple that has not been converted into a Hindu Temple, as no changes have been done except the addition of the Bhagavati shrine, a Balipeeda, and a Madapalli (kitchen) on the south side. The two faiths of Jainism and Hindusim have co-existed in the past in the erstwhile Travancore region and this is an example of such harmonious co-existence. While the Hindus have been visiting and worshiping Goddess Bhagavati (Padmavati) the Jains also continued to add bas reliefs to the existing carvings on the north side and continued their worship. In front of the sanctums is a pillared hall common to all sanctums.

Holy Water (Theertham) – Pond in front

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – None


Bhagavati Chitharal portion of the existing Jain temple was added during the reign of Vikramaditya Varaguna Pandya (884—911/920 CE). There are several inscriptions found here relating to donations to the Bhagavati Temple. This site is also referred to as Thirucharanathupalli, Tiruccaranam, and the hill as Tiruchcharanattu malai, which means the “hill holy to the charanas” (Jain ascetics). The Archaeological Survey of India states that the beds are from the first century BCE to the sixth century CE. The cave temple and main Jain monument are from the 9th century and the Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Bhagavati was likely added after the 9th century and expanded with a mandapam and other Hindu architectural elements through the 13th century based on epigraphic evidence mentioning the donors. One of the inscriptions dated in the 28th year of Vikramaditya Varaguna Pandya, mentions that Kunantangi Kurattikal, the disciple of Arattanemi Bhatara of Perayakkudi gifted some gold ornaments to the Bhatariyar of Tiruchanatu Malai. The inscription is in the Tamil language in Vatteluttu script.


No Information


Bhagavati Chitharal is about 7.5 kilometers northeast of Marthandam and can be reached by taking the road that goes via Thickurichi.

Stay and Food

None locally except a tea and snack shop run by the parking attendant. The closest is Marthandam for food and Nagercoil for stay.

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