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The Jain religion was brought to the South in the third century B.C. by Chandra Gupta Maurya (321-297 B.C.) and the Jain saint Bhadrabahu, according to Jain traditions.  These men came to Sravanabelgola in Mysore.  Later more Jain missionaries came to Tamil Nadu and converted many Cheras to their religion. Prince Ilango Adigal, the author of Shilappadikaram, is believed to be a Jain. The Jains came to Kerala with the rest of the Chera immigrants starting in the sixth century.  The only evidence of their presence in Kerala is the incontro-vertible fact that some Hindu temples of today were originally Jain temples.

In Matilakam was a famous Jain temple which Hindus shunned as late as the fourteenth century according to Kokasandesam, though at present it is a Hindu temple.  Today, the presiding deity of Kudalmanikkam Temple near Irinjalakuda is Bharata, the brother of Rama; originally it was Bharateswara, the digambara Jain saint.  Kallil, near Perumbavur, has a rock-cut cave in which we can still see the images of Parswantha, Mahavira, and Padmavati; the local Hindus worship Bhagavati in this temple today.  Several places in wynad have Jain temples -an indication that North Malabar was once a flourishing center of Jainism.

Historians believe that the decline of Jainism started about the eighth century during the Aryanization period of Kerala when Vaishnavism and Saivism were active and aggressive.  Jainism seems to have completely disappeared from Kerala by the sixteenth century; the foreign visitors from Europe do not mention the Jains at all.  One lasting contribution of Jainism to Kerala, according to wi'lliam Logan, is that the architecture of the Hindu temples and the Muslim mosques of North Malabar was influenced by the architecture of the Jain temples.
I may add here that there are some old Jain families in the Wynad-Kasargod area even today.



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