The fallen idols of Aretippur

The fallen idols of Aretippur

 Aretippur in Maddur taluk is home to many ruins, including Jain basadis and sculptures all dating back several centuries.

There are people who even use the remains as a makeshift stove to cook. This is the state of affairs at Aretippur in Maddur taluk.

At one point in time, Tippur or Aretippur as it is also known, was an important pilgrim centre, equal in stature to Shravanabelagola. Much like Shravanabelagola, Aretippur also has two hillocks. One is called Kanakagiri or Jinagudda, while the other is called Savanappana Betta.

An edict found here mentions that the place was called Tippeyur or Bastiya Tippur. There is historical evidence that says that a basadi was built here during the time of Ganga kings (916-17 AD).

It is said that a soldier called Manaleyar during the time of King Neetimarga Permadi built this basadi. The basadi was later handed over to Jain saint Kanaka Bhattararya. It was this saint who gave the hillock the name Kanakagiri.

Kanakagiri is now a veritable open-air museum housing Jain memorials and sculptures. There are ruins of four basadis built of brick. In a heap of bricks that lie scattered here, one can still spot the foundations of these structures. Also in the middle of this heap of bricks is a stone edict. This edict is said to have been inscribed by poet Balachandradeva in memory of his father and guru Kandarpadeva and mother Sonnadevi.

Th edict also points out that the Jain centre was given away to Maddur’s Sriramachandra Deva by th 14-15th century.

There is a charming tank in Kanakagiri. The edict points out that this tank was called Kanakagiri Teertha. On the banks of this tank are some Jain sculptures that point to the existence of Parshwanath and Suparshwanatha basadis. There are several other sculptures all strewn around on the ground here.

It is sad that the place has been converted into a picnic spot, where holidayers sometimes use these stones for cooking.

Kanakagiri was once home to stone quarrying. Thanks to the efforts of Deputy Commissioner Gopalkrishna Gowda, it has been stopped now. But, stone quarrying is still carried out on the sly, here and there. Towards the north of Kanakagiri is Savanappana Gudda.

Here, atop the hill is a ten-ft-tall statue of Bahubali. The edict found here points out that the statue was made in 918 AD much before the Gommateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola was made in 984 AD.

This statue is called Savanappa by locals. The Savanappana Gudda is also being harmed by stone quarrying.

Stones are being cut away with the help of machines. Sometimes, dynamite is also used to blow up some parts of the hillock, sending out vibrations across the area. If mining continues unabated, in a few years, the hill will vanish, in all likelihood.

The local deity of Tippur village is Jinamma. Unlike in some villages where a sacrifice is offered to the grama devata (village deity), Tippur village has no such practice.

The government that spends substantial amounts on Shravanabelagola seems to have ignored the two Jain centres of Aretippur, which is 20 km from Maddur. The well-known bird sanctuary of Kokkarebellur is a mere six kilometres away from Aretippur.

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