A Survey of
Jain Monuments of Karnataka
First Online: August 15, 1997
Page Last updated : April 04, 2014
The Jain religion is contemporary of Buddhism, believes in cycle of
rebirths and consequently regards life as painful, longing for liberation
(see an Introduction to Jainism). It came to
Karnataka four centuries before the Christian era. The Gangas, Kadamba, Chalukyas and
Hoysala kings had encouraged the Jainism. They have left innumerable shrines, Bastis
(a.k.a. Basadis), Gomata
statues and stambhas (pillars). The following is district-wise brief account of
important Jain monuments of Karnataka. (See a map of all
the districts of Karnataka)
This article contains many technical terms. Please use our glossary
database to search for definition of a term.
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Carving at the footstep of Gomateshwara
Jain pilgrimage center of Shravanabelagola. The letters are in Devanagari script, but the language has been a dispute of scholars. Is it Marathi or Konkani ?
The town is 50 km from Hassan and 10 km from Chananrayanpatna. It has two
hillocks, Indragiri and Chandragiri. The former one is also known as Vindhyagiri, and
stands 143 meters high. About five hundred steps lead to the top of this picturesque
hillock where 58.6 ft high Bahubali (Gomata) statue stands. It is a monolith
carved around 980 A.D. and considered to be a landmark in the annals of world art. His
broad shoulders are 26 feet across. He is a symbol of eternal value, absolute renunciation
detachment, and a soul set free from material surroundings. The Gomateswara's head
anointing (Mahamastakabhisheka) ceremony is a visual splendor, which is performed once
in twelve years.
The last one took place in February of 2006.
Shravanabelagola has been great seat of learning for
thousands of years and is home to some of the most beautiful Jain
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Chavundaraya of Gometeshwara fame.
(picture hand-enhanced by author; the original is in a very poor condition-
Many historical monuments are located on Indragiri. The Odegal Basadi contains Adinatha,
Neminatha and Shanthinatha icons. The Tyagada Brahmadeva Pillar (980 A.D.) has
intricate carvings. The Akanda Bagilu is a doorway carved out of single rock. The
Siddaragunda is a massive-rock on which rows of Jina figures have been carved. The
Gullakayajji sculpture is specimen of very fine workmanship. The Channanna Basti (1673
A.D.) has Chandranatha icon.
See pictures of Indragiri
at Kamat PictureSearch
The Chandragiri has numerous monuments located at top of the hillock surrounded by a
compound wall. It is said that in the third century B.C., Chandragupta Maurya, and his
guru Bhadrabahu came here from North India and under took Sallekhana (inviting death by
fasting). There are numerous memorial stone (Nishidhis) of Jain ascetics who underwent
Sallekhana. The Parshvanatha Basti contains five-meter high Parshvanatha icon. There is a
tall manasthambha in front of the Basti. Kattale Basti contains Adinatha idol with a pair
of chauri-bearers. The Chandragupta Basti consist of three chambers and contains
Parshvanatha icon. Elaborately carved marble screens are located on either side of doorway
situated in front of the vestibule. They depict many incidents from lives of Chandragupta
and Bhadrabahu. The Chamundaraya Basti is in two level, at the ground level it has
Neminatha and on to of it Parshvanatha icons could be seen. The queen Shantala got
constructed Savati Gandhavarana Basti. The Shasana Basti houses Adinatha idol. The
Shanthinatha, Suparshwantha, Chandraprabha, Majjiagannaare the other Bastis located on
Chandragiri, and in the town.
The largest Bhandara Basti is located in the town, which houses 24 Jain Teerthakara in
row. The Jain Matha stands near by this Basti. In this Muth, the walls, of the
verandah which surrounds a central courtyard, are decorated with mural paintings. The
panels on left depict the life of Parshvanatha who underwent many rebirths. In his firs
birth he was known as Marubhuta born to a minister to king Aravinda. He had an evil
brother called Kamatha. When elder brother was on a mission with the king, Kamatha declare
himself the emperor and tricked his brother's wife to have sex with him. After the king's
return he was severely punished. He was given a head shave while boys urinated on his head;
He was parade on a donkey's back while the boys threw stones at him. All these events
could be recognized in different panels. Other wall paintings depict episodes from King
Bharata and Prince Nagakumar an annual fair has been painted in detail.
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Medieval Crime and Punishment
Wall painting in a Jain Muth in Sravanabelagola shows a man being shamed in public.
Jinanathapura village is located north of Chandragiri. The
has been constructed is a highly ornate style like other Hoysala temples. A white marble
Parshnatha has been installed in Basti. Shantishvara Basti's outer wall decorated with
innumerable floral designs and human figures about five km from
Shravanabelagola, there is an
ancient and dilapidated Basti could be seen. There is a tank near by and there a few Jain
icons on its bank. The village is known as Hale (old) Belagola indicating that it is the
original Belagola. (see Hale-Belagola)
K.L. Kamat/Kamat's Potpourri
Jain Teerthankar (sage) with seven hooded cobra
DAKSHINA KANNADA DISTRICT
It is a small town, about 35-km northeast of Mangalore. Out of eighteen Bastis located
here "Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Chatyalaya is the biggest. It is supported
thousand pillars and hence popularly known as "Savira Kambada Basadi." It was
built in 1431 by the eight traders and four town councilors. In 1402, Bhairadevi, the
queen of Garesappa added an elegant mantapa to the Basti. Queen Nagala Devi installed
fifty feet high Manastambha in front of the monument. The Basti is famous for its
beautifully carved pillars. Elaborately carved figures of chauri-bearers, drummers,
elephant riders, a giraffe and a dragon could be observed.
The Jain Math of the town is of great importance to Jains. Its walls
are decorated with numerous paintings A huge painting depicts the male headgear of the
period. Unfortunately most of these painting have faded now. However, it has a rare
treasure house of painted palm leaf manuscripts Dhavala, Jayadhavala and Mahadhavala,
which could be dated around 1114 AD. They have many exquisite miniature paintings of
Teerthakaras, Yakasha, Yakshinis (celestial bodies), kings, queens, devotees and ornamental flowers. They are
in bright colors but are drawn with great delicacy.
Karkala is a town located 52 km to the northeast of Mangalore. 42 feet,
monolithic, Gommteshwera was installed in 1432 AD by Vir Pandya of the Santara family.
About two furlongs from Anekere, the statue stands on a rocky hillock. In 1437 AD a
Brahmadeva Stambha was set up in front of Gommata. The sculpture of Brahma on the top of
the pillar is an example of excellent workmanship.
The Chaturmukha Basadi of Karkala was completed in 1586 AD. It has four identical
entrances in four directions. The garbhagriha has the standing statues of Ara, Malli, and
Suyrata. In addition images of 24 Teerthakaras, Yakshi Padmavati could be found.
In 1329 AD the Neminatha Basadi was constructed at Hiriyangdi, one km
to the west of Gomata Hill. 54 feet manasthambha, carved out of single rock has been
installed in front of the Basadi.
Dharmasthala is 75 km from Mangalore, located on the banks of the Netravati
river. This town is known for religious tolerance and the Jain Teethankaras are worshiped on
the same consecrated grounds as Lord Manjunatha (Shiva) .The priests are Vaishnavites
whereas the hereditary guardians are Jains by faith.
The Trustee Veerendra Heggade got installed 52 feet idol of Gomata in
year 1973. It weighs about 175 tons and is the third largest statue in the country.
It is 15 km from Dharmasthala. Timmanna Ajila got erected the
monolithic Gommata in 1604 AD which is 38 feet tall. Among eight Basadis located here, the
Shantinatha Basadi is well known for its architectural merits.
UTTARA KANNADA DISTRICT
Gerusoppa village is 29 km from Honavar, on the bank of river Sharavati. The Saluvas
ruled from here during thirteenth to seventeenth century. The Chaturmukha
Basadi of Gerusoppa was built
during fourteenth century, which has four identical doors in four directions. Similarly,
four identical Neminaths's statues are carved out in marble.
Haduvalli (Sangithapura) is a tiny village ten km from Bhatkal. Another branch of the
Saluvas dynasty ruled from here. In Padmavathi temple there numerous metal icons which
belonged to 14th century. Fourteen Tirathankars in black marble are installed in a row.
The Chandranatha Basadi is located at a short distance.
© K. L. Kamat
A Jain Statue near Bilagi, Karnataka
Bilgi (a.k.a. Bilagi and Svetapura) town is thirteen km from Siddapur. It was the capital of
Bilgi. At the instance of famous saint Bhattakalanka, the prince Rangapparaja and his son
Ghantendra have built Ratnatrya Basadi in 1581. It has shrines in which idols of
Neminatha, Vardhamana and Parshwanatha have been installed. The Shantishwara
added in 1592.
Lakkundi (Likkigundi) is a small town near Gadag. The Kalyana Chalukya Commander's
noble and saintly wife, Attimabbe built the Brahma Jinalaya in 10th century. Its
doors are intricately carved and the walls have innumerable sculptures and its shikharas are
tall and ornate.
© K. L. Kamat
The Jain Basadi at Lakkundi
Another near by town Lakshmeshwar (Puligere) has the Shankara Jinalaya constructed by
At Raibag (Bagi) stands the Adinatha Basadi of later Chalukyan times.
It has 18 meters tall manastambha. Tavadi (Stavanidhi) a town five km from
Nippani has the
Brahmadeva Basadi complex. The Shantinatha Basadi is located at Shedbal.
The Megana Basadi is a rock cut Jinalaya of sixth century. It contains
images of Bahubali, Mahaveera and Parshwanatha.
Humcha town is twenty km from Hosanagar. The temples of Parshwanatha and Padmavathi are
located here. These are maintained by the local Jain Math.
Since his childhood, Dr. Krishnanad Kamat has been inspired by the
Jain architecture. He invites young historians to take up studies in Jain history and art.
See related topics at Kamat's Potpourri: