Andhra, too, has a Shravanabelagola

Last Updated 24 October 2010, 17:18 IST

About 100 km from Hyderabad at Kolcharam in Medak district is the temple of Parsvnath, the 23rd Jain Theerthankar, which is being visited by community members from not only Andhra Pradesh but also from the adjoining states.

Legend says the idol installed in the temple was found at the site where villagers were trying to construct a colony. Efforts to build houses on the deserted piece of land was getting repeatedly affected, as the half-built houses used to catch fire.

A 11-foot-tall black basalt rock idol of Vighnaharaneswar Parsvnath was then unearthed from the site. It was only after this that the villagers could build the houses. During excavation, the idol was found hidden deep into the soil and it took a large army of men to dig it out.

The villagers first took the idol to be Lord Shiva’s, as it was of a man with a seven-hooded serpent over his head, and began offering prayers accordingly.

But a Jain traveler passing though the area noticed the idol and identified it as the 23rd Theerthankar’s.

He informed the community members in Hyderabad about it, who sent experts to confirm that it was indeed that of Theerthankar Parsvnath.

ASI permission

The Jains tried to take over the idol but failed as they needed permission from the Archaeological Survey of India. In 2000, the All India Jain Digambar Theerthsamrakshani Mahasabha took initiative and purchased the land for construction of a temple there.

A temple and a dormitory were consequently built after which devotees from different parts of the state started arriving for darshan, particularly on Sundays.

Bathing of the idol in milk or Ksheerabhishekam is done to the idol as in the case of the monolithic structure of Gomateswara Bahubali, the first Theerthankar, at Shravanabelagola.

Much like the idol of Gomateswara gets completely bathed after the Mahamastabhisheka or the bathing of the statue from its head, here, too, the milk poured from the top travels through the seven hoods of the serpent, the shoulder of Parsvnath and finally touches the feet of the statue.

The locals, meanwhile, believe Parsvnath to be a deity that brings a good harvest. Even after the idol was handed over to the Jain community, they still offer prayer at the beginning of the agriculture season.

(Published 24 October 2010, 17:18 IST)

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