The Samanar hills in Madurai have been declared as a historically rich site and protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. The hills are so called because it is common in Tamil Nadu to refer to ascetic sites, particularly of Jain tradition as Samanar.
The monuments found in the hills date between the 2nd century BCE and 12th century CE. Sculptures of Gomateshwara, Mahavira, Yakshi and Yaksha have been found here. The main attractions here are the Settipodavu site and Pechipallam site. The Settipodavu site displays an image of Lord Mahavira, the last Tirthankara of Jainism. The flat stones or stone beds that the Jain monks used to take rest on can also be found here.
Pechipallam has eight Jain sculptures including Bahubali, Mahavir and Parsvanatha with rare iconographies. These sculptures of Tirthankaras are believed to have been built by Jain monks during 9th century BCE.
The inscriptions here are believed to be more than 200 years old. The archaeological studies in Samanar hills suggest that there used to be a Jain school atop the hills. The tranquil atmosphere of the place is enriched by a lotus pond at the bottom of the hills.