Karkala is a chief Jain centre known after the Monolithic idol of Lord Bahubali, 18 Digambar Jain Temples, Jain Math and the rich Jain Heritage. Karkala is a taluk centre in the Udupi district of Karnataka. It is situated at a distance of 35 Kms from Udupi and 52 Kms from Mangaluru.
Origin of the name – Lot of black granite is found in the vicinity of Karkala and hence the name.
Historic Centre – Karkala was like any other village until A.D. 1300. It later flourished well when it assumed the status of the capital of Byrarasas. The Byrarasas transformed this place on to a historic town. It served as their capital from A.D. 1300-1700.
Religious Centre – It also flourished as a religious centre during the reign of Byrarasas. It houses the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali, 23 Jaina Basadis, Jain Mutt, Venkataramana Temple, and Anantashayana temple. The Bhujabali Brahmacharya Ashrama is the latest addition to this list.
Karkala was like any other village until A.D. 1300. Around the 13th century, a person can Ealu Nadu Heggade was ruling Karkala, Keravase, Padangadi, Aruru, and three other places in the region. There existed around 770 Jain families in Karkala during this period and all the Shravakas were merchants and they used to pay their annual tax to Heggade. However, Heggade was troubling his subjects a lot. This enraged the citizens of this region and incidentally, King Bhyrava Raja of Hombuchha (the current Hombuja) happen to visit Moodabidri on his religious pilgrimage. The citizens of this region explained their plight to Bhyrava Raja. Hence Bhyrava Raja decided to wage a war against Heggade, defeated him, and captured the region. Eventually, the citizens of Karkala consecrated Bhyrava Raja as their beloved king. Since then the Bhyraarasas ruled the region and contributed considerably to the development of art, culture, religion & architecture in the region.
Jain Math – The Karkala Jain muth has His Holiness SwastiSri Lalithakeerthi Bhataraka Swamiji as the Bhataraka. The Byraarasas with the permission of the Bhattarakha at Panasoge established a new Jain Mutt at Karkala and called this as a branch of Panasoge Mutt and consecrated the ascetic who had arrived to Karkala as the new Bhattarakha during 1504-1505 A.D.
Gommata/Bahubali Statue – The huge Gommata statue here was installed in 1432 A.D. by Veera Pandyadeva a ruler of Bhairarasa(Santra) family of Karkala,who ruled here during the 14th century A.D.This statue has been carved out of a single stone standing on a 300 feet high hill. On the foot steps of the hill there lies a beautiful tank named as Ramasamudra.
Manastambha – The Manastambha at Karkala is said to be one of the best in the world. It has been erected over a 10 feet high 4 staged platform called as Jaguli. The manastambha is 54 feet high and was installed by the Bhyrarasa King Veerepandya IV (A.D. 1453 – 1475). Hence he became popular as Abhinava Pandya. It was installed in the period 1455-1460. It is very attractively carved all through out its length. At the top of the Manastambha is found a mantapa with Tirthankar idols facing four sides.
Temples at Karkala
- Matada Basadi – This north-facing basadi is built in the premises of Sri Jain Mutt. The Panchaloha idol of Lord Chandranath in Kayotsarga posture flanked by Vijaya Yaksha & Jwalamalini Yakshi is the main deity of this temple. We can also find the idol of Goddess Kushmandini devi here. The Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) is preceded by Namaskara Mantapa and the pradakshina patha.
- Chaturmukha Basadi – It was built in 1586 A.D. by king Immadi Bhyrava. It has been called Sarvatobadhra Chaturmukha Ratnatraya Roopa Tribhuvana Tilaka Jina Chaityalaya in the inscriptions. As the name signifies it is a 4 faced temples with entrances on all sides with a centrally located Sanctum Sanctorum. On one of the four sides is installed the idol of the 24 Tirthankaras.
- Shravana Basadi – This temple has the 3 feet high black coloured idol of Lord Chandranath in Padmasana as the main deity. It was built by Pandya Bhyrarasa and Immadi Byrarasa in memory of their brother Chandrashekara in A.D. 1604.
- Nishadhi Basadi – This temple provides very valuable information about the prevalence of Jain asceticism at Karkala. The Bhattarakha’s named over here are Kumudhachandra Bhattarakha, Hemachandra Bhattarakha, Vimalasuri Bhattarakha, Sri Keerthi Bhattarakha, and Dharmabhushana Bhattarakha. In addition to this, we can find the names of 7 other Jain Munis. These Bhattarakhas & Munis have sanctified Karkala.
- Shanthinath Basadi – The famous Shanthinatha Basadi was built in 1334 A.D..
- Kere Basadi – This is a Chaturmukha Basadi i.e. 4 faced Basadi with 4 entrances and a centrally located Garbagriha. Having been located in the middle of a Kere/pond it is called Kere Basadi. It is one of the very few Ancient Chaturmukha Jain temples of the world. This temple was built by Pandyapodeya (Pandya VI) in A.D. 1545. It has the idol of Lord Adinath the 1st Tirthankar in Kayotsarga posture facing towards east as the main deity. We can also find the other idols of Lord Chandranath – 8th Tirthankar, Lord Shanthinath – 16th Tirthankar and Lord Mahavira – 24 Tirthankar in other 3 directions of the sanctum sanctorum.
- Aramane Basadi – About 2′ 6″ high white coloured marble idol of Lord Adinath in padmasana (sitting) posture is the main deity. As the name indicates the word Aramane means palace. This temple was a part of the main palace built the Byrarasas while they established Karkala as their capital and this temple was in the centre of the palace.
- Abbakka Devi Basadi – It has about 2 feet high black coloured idol of Lord Adinath in Kayotsarga (standing) posture as the main deity.
- Bhyradevi Basadi / Mahavir Basadi – It has about 2’6 ” high idol of Lord Mahavir is padmasana (sitting) posture as the main deity.
- Gummathikari Basadi – It has an attractively carved 3′ feet high black coloured ancient idol of Lord Parshwanath Swamy in Kayotsarga posture as the main deity.
- Addakeri Basadi – It has 3 feet high black coloured idol of Lord Parshwanath in Kayotsarga (standing) posture in the ground floor as the main deity. In addition to this 2′ 6″ high black coloured idol of Lord Shanthinath in Kayotsarga posture on the first floor.
- Hire Basadi – It has an attractively carved 4 feet high black coloured idol of Lord Neminath in Padmasana posture on a 3 feet high attractively carved lotus-shaped platform as the main deity. This temple was built by King Vera Byaraarasa who ruled Karkala from 1390 – 1420 A.D.
- Bala Basadi / Adinath Swamy Basadi – This temple is located to the right of Hire Basadi & hence the name Bala Basadi. It has very attractively carved 3 feet high panchaloha idol (an idol made of 5 metals) of Lord Adinarg in Kayotsarga (standing) posture as the main deity.
- Hallara Basadi/Ammanavara Basadi – It has a 18″ high black coloured idol of Lord Parshwanath in Kayotsarga (standing) posture as the main deity. This temple was built by the Hallaru of Aruru (6 places) hence the name Hallara Basadi. We can also find about 3 feet high stone idols of all the 24 Tirthankars installed below the Parshwanath idol. Hence it is also called as Chavvisa Tirthankar Basadi. To the right of the 24 Tirthankaras is found a black coloured stone idol of Goddess Saraswati and to the left is found a black coloured idol of Goddess Padmavati the Yakshi of Lord Parshwanath. There is a huge followership to this idol of Goddess Padmavati. Goddess Padmavati is called as “Ammnavaru” and hence the temple is also called as Ammanavara Basadi.
- Gururaya Basadi – About 3 feet high black coloured idol of Lord Chandranath in padmasana posture is the main deity.
- Baradi Basadi/Gurugala Basadi – Has about 2′ 6″ high idols of Dharmanath (black stone), Shanthinath (marble stone) & Kunthunath (black stone) in Kayotsarga (standing) posture as the main deity. About 3′ high black coloured idol of Lord Parshwanath in Kayotsarga posture can be found on the 1st floor. It is said that Gurugalu (Jain ascetics) used to stay in a mantap adjacent to the temple and used to give out religious discourses to them. Hence, it was called as Gurugala Basadi.
- Kallu Basadi – About 3′ 6″ high black coloured stone idol of Lord Ananthanath installed on a 2′ 6″ high stone platform in Kayotsarga (standing) posture is the main deity.This temple is completely built of stone and hence the name Kallu Basadi.
- Chama Basadi – Has about 3′ high black coloured stone idol of Lord Adinath in Kayotsarga (standing) posture.
- Bommaraja Basadi – Has a 3 feet high idol of Lord Parshwanath in Kayotsarga as the main deity.
- Bettada Parshwanath Swamy Basadi – This temple has a 1 feet high black colour stone idol of Lord Parshwanath in Kayotsarga (standing) posture along with 24 Tirthankaras as the main deity. It also has a 1 feet 6 inches high white coloured marble idol of Lord Parshwanath in padmasana as the main deity. This temple is found midway on our way up the Bahubali hillock.