Kambadahalli is an ancient Jain heritage site with 800 years of history, Panchakuta & Shanthinath Basadis, Manastambha with Brahma Yaksha and Jain Math.
– Article & Photos: Nitin H P, Bengaluru
Kambadahalli is a village located at a distance of 18 Kms from Shravanabelagola, 16 Kms from the taluk centre Nagamangala and around 2 kms from the village Bindiganavile. Though located at a certain distance away from Bindiganavile Kambadahalli was considered as a part of it administratively. This place occupies a unique place in the list of Jain heritage centres in Karnataka. It was a chief Jaina centre during the Gangas and Hoysalas period. It is popular for the ancient Panchakuta Basadi, Shantinatha Basadi and the Brahma Yaksha Manasthambha. Both the Panchakuta Basadi and Shantinatha Basadi resemble the Dravadian style of architecture. There is a legendary record mentioning that once there were more than 72 Jain temples at this place.
Brahma Yaksha Pillar and Origin of the Name – Kambadahalli derives its name due to the presence of a huge Manasthambha, a pillar (Kambha in Kannada) in the village. Archeological sources confirm that Kambadahalli was previously known as Kambapuri. The Manastambha is 50 feet high and is one among the very few high raised ancient manastambha’s in South India. Its base is octagonal in shape and carvings of ashta dikpalakas can be found here.
An inscription around the lower portion of the manastambha dates back to 1118 A.D. This inscription mentions that the Hoysalan King Vishnuvardhana had asked his chief general Gangaraja before acquiring Talakad (an ancient heritage and religious centre near Mysore) to request a prize of his choice as an advance to his conquest. On hearing this Gangaraja requests for ‘Bindiganavile’s TirthaBasadi’s maintenance, i.e. he asks for Kambadahalli’. After getting this Gangaraja donated this to Kunda Kundanvaya Shubhachandra Siddantha Deva belonging to Sri Mula Sangha Desigana Puskatagachha after offering a pada pooja as per Jaina rituals to His Holiness.
Historicity of Kambadahalli – An inscription of 1118 A.D. calls this as Bindiganavile’s Tirtha Basadi and another inscription of 1145 A.D. calls the place as Kambadahalli. All the Basadi’s at Kambadahalli have a heritage of more than 800 years.
Temples at Kambadahalli – As already mentioned there are two Jain temples at Kambadahalli namely the Panchakuta Basadi and Shantinatha Basadi. The historical references indicate that the temples we built in three different timelines.
Panchakuta Basadi – As the name indicates this temple is a complex of Panchakutas i.e. five different garbagrihas. The temple is made of a Trikuta (three Garbagrihas) and a Dwikuta (two Garbagrihas). The architectural style of Trikutachala indicates that the temple was built during 900 A.D. All the three garbagrihas share a common navaranga. A set of attractive carvings divided into nine cells are found in the ceiling of this navaranga. The Central & main garbagriha of this north wards oriented temple complex has a 4 feet high black coloured stone idol of Lord Adinatha in padmasana as the main deity. This main cell is flanked by the other two facing each other. One of these cells houses the idol of Lord Neminatha facing eastwards and the idol of Lord Shanthinatha facing westwards. One of the attractive features of this temple is that all the three garbagrihas have a pinnacle each with its own uniqueness with their domes resembling the dome at Tajmahal. It is worth mentioning here that such an architecturally rich Jain temple was constructed 200 years before the construction of Tajmahal. Further subject experts are of the opinion that these pinnacles resemble the Kailash temple at Ellora and Dharmaraja Ratha at Mahabalipuram. Just besides the Trikuta is found a Dwikuta with both the temples facing each other and have Tirthankaras idols in padmasana as the main deities. The dwikuta basadi is a bit bigger and wider in size when compared to the Trikuta basadi.
At the centre of outer walls of garbagrihas of the panchakuta basadi are found niches on all the three sides of all the temples. In some of the niches are found the Tirthankara idols in Kayotsarga while the others are unfilled.
In between both the temples is found a balipeetha. On entering the temple complex and before the dwikuta basadi is found a small temple like formation which is actually the gate that leads us into the panchakuta basadi. On the inner side facing the dwikuta to the left of this structure is found the carving of a Tirthankara inside a niche. An attractive carving of the Kalpavriksha is seen above Tirthankara’s head. It is belived that offering prayers to this Tirthnkara idol by thinking about a particular desire in mind will help fulfill that.
Shantinath Basadi – To the right of the Panchakuta basadi and to its north is found the Shantinatha Basadi. This houses a 12 feet high black coloured stone idol of Lord Shantinath in Kayotsarga as the main deity. The garbagriha is proceeded by a wide navaranga flanked by Tirthankara idols on either sides. We can also find a couple of Yaksha and Yakshi idols around these Tirthankaras. On moving further ahead we can find a centrally placed attractive carving of Lord Neminatha flanked by three pairs of chouri bearers in the ceiling. Surrounding this carving are found the carvings of dikpalakas and gandarvas. Many devotees visiting Kambadahalli are seen practicing meditation below the Neminatha statue and have experienced a sense of tranquility.
Inscriptions at Shantinatha Basadi –
An inscription of 1128 A.D. at the temple mentions that this temple was built by Boppa the son of Gangaraja.
Another inscription of 1145 A.D. found on the lintel in front of the Shantinatha idol says that Narasimha Ballala Deva had donated the Modaliyahalli to Mariyane Dandanayaka and Bharatimaiah Dandanayaka disciples of Gandavimuktha Siddantha deva to carry out the daily poojas and aharadana (offering of food) at the temple. It further says that he had donated this village thinking that income from the property left by his ancestors were in sufficient to carry on pooja and other activities at the temple.
- Another inscription of 1174 A.D. around the same lintel mentions that a feudal king Bharateya Nayaka had donated certain land to carry on the day to day pooja of Lord Shanthinatha.
- An inscription of 1167 A.D. found in the temple mentions a person by name Parshwadeva had renovated the temple at Bindiganavile. Further it states that he had offered the chaturvidha pooja to the feet of Divya Muni of Hanasoge (an ancient Jain heritage centre now called as Chikkahanasoge in Mysore district. Some of the historical references indicate that these existed a Bhattarakha seat at Chikkahanasoge).
Jain Mutt at Kambadahalli – The Bhattaraka peeta that was redundant for more than 300 years was revived in 1998 by His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of the Shravanabelagola Jain Mutt and Swasti Sri Bhanukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji was consecrated as the pontiff of the mutt. Since then Kambadahalli has undergone constant developments because of the continuous pursuance and personal interest taken by Bhanukeerthiji. The temples at Kambadahalli were renovated recently by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) at a cost of Rs. 2 crores. Inscriptions at Kambadahalli indicate that more than 9 Bhattarakas of the Digambara ascetic order have adorned this peetha.
Bahubali Statue at Kambadahalli – During the excavation work carried out by the ASI at the time of renovating the Jain temples at Kambadahalli a life size statue of Lord Bahubali belonging to the 9th century was found. The idol has long flowing hairs and its style resembles the Bahubali metal statue of the 5th century, now preserved in the Metropolitan museum, New York. Historians are of the opinion that the shoulder length hair style resembles the Bahubali relief found in the Badami cave dating back to 6th century. Another distinct feature of the image is the creepers entwining the legs.
How to Reach – Kambadahalli is situated in Nagamangala taluk of Mandya district at a distance of 18 kilometers from Shravanabelagola, 135 Kms from Bangalore, 85 Kms from Mysore and 15 Kms from Nagamangala.