Any mention of Jain monuments would bring the pictures of the huge monolith statue of Lord Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola or the impressive thousand pillared basadi at Moodabidri.
For centuries, the Jains have contributed to the rich traditions of our country by way of their charitable works like providing education, feeding the hungry among other things.
They have been known as strong proponents and practitioners of non-violence or causing no harm to any living form, and for their sheer love for architectural wonders.
A benevolent community
Some monuments are absolutely breathtaking for their size while some, like the innumerable basadis are fascinating for their sheer detailed workmanship though much smaller in size.
For many centuries, their sphere of influence was in areas of Malnad and Malabar in southern India. And each of basadis they have established, has a story to tell. Varanga, a small town in Udupi district is one of the best kept secrets of Jain religion and Karnataka’s diverse traditions.
Tucked in between hillocks on one side and open fields on the other, are these beautiful basadis. They are the Neminath Basadi, the Chandranath Basadi and the Chaturmukha Basadi.
The one right in the middle of the lake, the Kere Basadi, built by Pandya VI in 1545 AD, is a real wonder with the four deities facing four directions.
Beauty amidst water
A speciality is the reverence of Goddess Padmavati Devi apart from the four deities. A short boat ride takes the visitors to this Basadi. The cool waters of the pond filled with fishes and turtles absorb any bit of noise one can hear. The pond is a subject of great study which is believed to be almost a thousand years!
The architecture of the other two basadis, namely the Neminath Basadi and the Chandranath Basadi is that of a typical Dakshina Kannada temple with a large open central space, heavy wooden or stone pillars with plenty of air and light in the main courtyard. The intricately crafted short doors make every devotee bow down while entering.
Varanga is about 75 km from Mangalore and lies on the Karkala Agumbe road. It is located at a distance of about 25 km from Karkala, another famous town for Jain monuments. There are no commercial establishments anywhere nearby and one must plan accordingly.
I would say this is a blessing in disguise. A very nominal charge of Rs 5 is made for the boat ride to the Chaturmukha Basadi.
This place is a must watch for history aficionados and for city souls seeking a peaceful state of mind. A visit during the monsoon would be absolutely blissful.