Remnants of Jainism

Remnants of Jainism

Karkala is dotted with numerous Jain shrines,a 42-feet-tall statue and rich history. So head to this little town to get a dose of sheer magnificence, writes Kushal V R.

Jainism as a religion along with its traditions, architecture, sculpture and iconography has left a distinct mark in many parts of Karnataka. Prominent among them is the town of Karkala, located 40 km from Udupi.

It is home to a few prominent Jain temples. One such temple is the Chaturmukha Basadi, located prominently atop a hill and visible from afar. Built in 1586 AD, this basadi looks unique and symmetrical in construction on all four sides, thus deriving its name chaturmukha (four faces).

The construction dates back to the reign of Jain King Bhairavendra II of the Bhairarasa dynasty and resembles that of a mantapa. The sanctum sanctorum is situated atop an elevated platform which also partly serves as an option for circumambulation (pradakshina). The Teerthankaras Aranatha, Mallinatha and Munisuvrata are the main deities who are worshipped here.

Paying obeisance and going around the temple, one gets an excellent view all around, with mist covered hills in the distance and lush greenery all around. Another interesting view that one can hardly miss is the statue of Lord Gommateshwara or Bahubali located in the distance atop a hill of slightly higher elevation. Coming closer to the temple, the outer pillars that support the roof and its slopes are adorned by some unique sculptures.

One can find rare and exquisite designs on some while the others carry carvings of Lord Ganesha and other Gods. A single sculpture on the pillar depicting an elephant and a bull when viewed from opposite sides is also found here.
Though having four entrances, the one facing the steps is open for the people to have darshan. Well maintained with a green lawn, the basadi offers a  serene atmosphere with a few tourists visiting the place.

Legendary place

Situated atop a granite hill, is the magnificent statue of Lord Gommateshwara or Bahubali. According to legend, the kingdom of Podanpur was ruled by Rishaba, the first Teerthankara who had two elder sons Bharatha and Bahubali both known to be very smart, capable and handsome.

Unable to identify his successor, Rishaba decides to divide the kingdom amongst the two. Discontent with his share, Bharatha challenges his brother to a contest of three duels, jalayuddha (water fight), mallayuddha (wrestling) and drushtiyuddha (staring competition).

However, Bahubali ends up winning the duels and becomes the rightful victor of the contest. But the guilt and hurt of having fought his own brother overcomes him and he ultimately donates everything to him and renounces the world. Standing nude, leaving all worldly attachments behind, he performs penance and attains salvation. The statue has thus been sculpted to commemorate his ultimate sacrifice.

Being the third oldest Gommateshwara in Karnataka, it was sculpted in 1432 AD on the order of Jain King Virapandya of the Bhairarasa dynasty and at 42 feet, is the second tallest representation after the one in Shravanabelagola, Hassan.

The statue is surrounded by an outer periphery that extends all around with a mahastambha located at its entrance. Entering in, one is immediately left spellbound by the statue’s beauty. Walking towards it, one cannot help but be entranced by the serene look on the face that exquisitely depicts the inner peace achieved by the man who has withstood pain and suffering. One can find miniature statues of the other Teerthankaras placed directly behind the statue in a mantapa in addition to this statue.

Temple in sight

Karkala also has a historical Hindu temple, the Ananthapadmanabha Temple. Built in 1567 AD by the Bhairarasa dynasty, this temple has Lord Ranganatha as the main deity in his traditional sleeping posture atop the Adishesha snake with Goddess Lakshmi at his feet. The idol is quite big and is said to be surrounded by Praduymna and Aniruddha.

The temple itself looks very old and appeals to history lovers with its antiquity being devoid of any modern renovations. The construction of the temple follows the coastal temple architecture style with the inner core surrounded by an outer periphery. The temple compound is very spacious and has an all- pervading calm adding to its aura.

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