The headless teerthankara and the Bangalore inscription still lie there. Meera Iyer explains why and what needs to be done. 

Almost every Bangalorean has heard the story of how an old woman fed a king boiled beans and hence gave our city its name. But this charming little tale is also apocryphal, for we know from an inscription in the Panchalingeshwara temple in
Begur that a settlement called Bengaluru existed even in the ninth century – many centuries before the boiled beans episode supposedly occurred. The little village also has several historical relics that show that it was an important spiritual centre for Jains for many centuries.

A particularly evocative relic is that of the headless teerthankara, probably dating to the 15th century. Locals affectionately call it ‘Shravanappa’. The inscription urgently needs protection. Currently, it lies propped up against a fence in the temple complex. We heard from locals that two other inscriptions in the temple had broken while being moved because of construction activities related to the four new gopuras being built for the temple. Should the Bangalore inscription be allowed to run this risk of being lost or damaged forever?

In the 1800s, some inscriptions from Begur were moved to the Government Museum for display.

Today, it is recognised both in India and internationally that a better practice is to conserve historical relics in situ. Since the Bangalore inscription was recorded in Begur, it is important to preserve it in that very context. It is not a difficult task.

A small open-air museum can be constructed within the temple complex where the inscription can be securely displayed, along with others. The museum should include interpretive signage to convey the significance of the inscription to visitors. Similarly, Shravanappa needs no further act on our part than to ensure his safety where he currently lies.