WAYANAD: The Jain Temple at Sulthan Bathery sheds light into the rich past of the Jain community that once constituted the majority in the hill district. Though there are many Jain remnants across the district, the one at Sulthan Bathery is the most prominent, according to historians.
Believed to be built in the 15th century, the place itself derived its present name from the Jain Temple which was used as a fort by the King of Mysore, Tipu Sultan.
Tipu converted the temple into his battery to store arms and ammunition. In the later period the British named the place as one that nestles the Sultan’s battery which has now metamorphosed into ‘Sulthan Bathery’.
Earlier there was a tunnel under the temple, the origin of which was reportedly traced to the palace of Tipu in Mysore. Later the tunnel was closed as schoolchildren started exploring the tunnel.
Once upon a time the place was known as Kidangad Basti and the older name of Bathery was Hannaredu Bedhi (Twelve Streets), both names came from the Kannada language.
Eminent historian MGS Narayanan told Deccan Chronicle that the monument belonged to 15th or 16th century.
“There was a significant Jain population in Wayanad in those days who later shifted to other places due to hostile situations”, he said, adding that the existing generation of the Jain community has a history of about 300 years. “Due to lack of attention and maintenance, the monument was later reduced into a den for anti-social elements. After a hue and cry from the public as well as the Jains, the Archeological Survey of India took over the monument”, Mr Narayan said. Recently, ASI had some repairing and restoration works in the monument strengthening some damaged portions spending about `5 lakhs.
Known as the Tippu’s fort in tourism circles, the monument is a must see architectural marvel in Wayanad where there are only a few structures made entirely of huge granite slabs.