The Tamil Nadu Government recently, issued a notification declaring Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in Madurai district the first biodiversity heritage site in the State.
About Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage site
- A cluster of seven hillocks in Arittapatti village (Melur block) and 53.8 hectares in Meenakshipuram village (Madurai East taluk) will be known as the Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage site.
- The village has a rich biological and historical significance with the presence of around 250 bird species, including three flagship raptor species – Laggar Falcon (Falco jugger), Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) and wildlife such as Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata), Python (Python molurus) and Slender Loris (Loris spp).
- It is also home to wildlife such as the Indian Pangolin, Slender Loris and pythons.
- The area is surrounded by a chain of seven hillocks or inselbergs that serve as a watershed, charging “72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check dams,” the notification said.
- The Anaikondan tank, built during the reign of Pandiyan kings in the 16th century is one among them.
- Several megalithic structures, rock-cut temples, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and Jain beds add to the historical significance of the region.
- Tamil Brahmi stone inscriptions, dating back to the second century BCE (Before Common Era), are found in Kalinjamalai located at Arittapatti in Melur block in Madurai. This village, which has Jain vestiges, natural waterbodies and eighth century rock-cut temple of Lord Siva.
- Kalinjamalai is one of the important heritage spots in the village. It has natural caverns and the second century BCE Tamil Brahmi inscription.
- The inscriptions indicate that two persons – Nelvazhi Sizhivan and Ilanji Imayavan – had given shelter to the Jain monks at this cave.
- Near the cave, a sculpture of an ancient Jain Thirthankara is found. A 10th century CE vattezhuthu inscription found under the sculpture says that Kalinjamalai was earlier called as ‘Thiruppinaiyanmalai’.
- The other important heritage spot in the village is the 8th century rock-cut temple of Lord Shiva with a rare sculpture of Lakulisa.
- An inscription belonging to Sadayavarman Vikaramapandiyan period is found at another structural Shiva temple. It says that around 700 years back Arittapatti had been an important trading city.
Back to Basics
- The State government, upon the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board has declared Arittapatti a biodiversity heritage site.
- The declaration of the site, has been made under the Section 37 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
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