Shravanabelagola occupies a unique and prominent place as an abode of innumerable Jain temples of Digambara sect in south India since 5th century. In addition to its archeological and religious importance the artistic and antiquarian richness of the place has merited it immensly. It has derived its name Belagola from two Kannada words bel means white and Kola means pond. The name Belagola is been found in an inscription of A.D. 650 and also A.D. 800. Hence the word Shravanabelagola means the place of white pond where in Shravanas or Jain ascetics live. It is a picturesque place lying between two rocky hills Indragiri and Chandragiri. It is situated about 13 Kms from Channarayapatna taluk of Hassan district. Shravanabelagola abounds in inscriptions denoting Ganga, Rashtrakuta, Hoysala, Vijayanagar and Mysore Wodeyars reign of the place. The shrines, canopies, monuments, tanks, Nishadi stones, manasthambhas and other relics of the past have incessantly carved the message of Jainism through out the land from time to time. It has enjoyed both the royal patronage and the common-folk alike. These have been maintained in good state and preserving heritage. Hence it is reckoned as one of the flourishing centre of Jain pilgrimage. Further more the historians, art lovers and research scholars are see thronging at the place very frequently. The near by places such as Kambadahalli Jinanathapura and Halebelagola also bear the testimony as the satellite centers of the religion. The temples are beckoned with cultural niche in terms of tradition of sculpture and architecture. The temples situated on the top of Indragiri and Chandragiri Hills, in the township and around Shravanabelagola narrate the history of the place in a lucid way. These are built mainly out of granite stone available in the place. Where as the temples constructed during the Hoysala period are mainly soap stone.
On the way to Indragiri from the vidyananda Yatri Nivas, the first object that meets the eye of the visitor is the beautiful pond or Kalyani. This is a large beautiful pond situated at the centre of the town. It has steps on all sides and surrounded by a wall with gates surmounted by towers. It was built by Annaiah the officer of Kammata (mint) but he died before its completion. Later his grandson Krishnawodeyar-I completed the gopura, the tank and corridor as mentioned in Anathakavi’s Gommateshwara Charite. In the course of years the construction was also taken over by Chikkadevarajendra Wodeyar, the king who ruled Mysore state from A.D. 1672-1704 and was completed in A.D. 1723 in his memory as he died during the period of its construction.
It is the largest temple seen in the town at Shravanabelagola and is built at different stages in different times. It measures 266 feet X 78 Feet. It bears Garbagriha, Antarala, Sabhamantapa and Mukha Mantapa constructed in simple architectural style. There is a long row of 24 prophets of 3 feet height in Kadgasana filling the Garbhagriha and the images are installed on the ornamental pedestal. It has three splendid doorways with carvings of human and animal figures and foliage. The idols of Yakshi Padmavathi and Brahma are found in Antarala, the entrance door bears a fine carving of dancing Indra with 12 arms and a plate of conglomeration of musicians. It was built in A.D. 1159 by Hulla, the treasurer (Bhandari) of the Hoysala King Narasimha I (A.D. 1141-1173). Hence it is named after him as Bhandari Basadi. The other huge constructions in front and around the temple were built during the Vijayanagara period. A fine manasthambha was erected in front of the main entrance. The temple has gained its importance because of the fact that it has housed the famous Bukkaraya inscription of Vijayanagara period mentioning the conflict that existed between Jaina and Sri Vaishnavas and finally resolved with compromise. Hulla was conferred the title of ‘Samyaktva-Chudamani’. A village called Sovaneru was granted for the maintenance of the temple. Devappa of Nanjarayapattana the son of chieftain Bukkaraya built a portion of the temple in A.D. 1527 and called it Saraswati Mantapa.
Jain Mutt (Article by Dr. H.A. Parshwanath)
The Panchaparameshti Basadi or the Danashale basadi near the entrance to Akkana Basadi enshrines the Pancha-parameshthi group. The five panchaparameshtis are the Jinas, Siddhas, ACharyas, Upadhyas and the Sadhus.
Jain mutt is a place where the propagator and the server of Jainism lives and under whose guidance the religious activities are conducted in an organised manner. In this direction the Jain mutt of Shravanabelagola stands foremost. The establishment of the mutt has drawn due attention of all the sections of people. It is a religious centre acting as a nucleus of all activities of Sri Kshetra.
It is said that Chavundaraya intended to established a mutt (Dharmapeetha) in Shravanabelagola following the engraving of Lord Gommateshwara in Indragiri to guard the religious values and as a result Nemichandracharya Siddanthachakravarthi became the head of Dharmapeetha. It was later called Charukeerthi Peetha. In the later days it was considered as the seat of Shravana culture of Jainism in Karnataka. There is no exact documentary evidence as to when the mutt came into existence. The first mentioning of the munis of the mutt is found in A.D. 1131. The munis were called Charukeerthi Bhattarakha. The incarnation of the religious head of the mutt goes as Chamundarayarchita Padadyaneka Birudavali Virajamanarum i.e. the holy feet of munis were worshiped and enshrined with the title by Chavundaraya. The head of the mutt possessed the name Charukeerthi suffixed with the adjectives like Deva, Pandita, Muni, Bhatha and Panditacharya. The heritage of the Jain Mutt is mentioned in different literary works, inscriptions, palm leaves and manuscripts. Poet Chidananda (A.D. 1750) belonging to the Jain Mutt has cited it in his Munivamshabhuyudaya. It is also mentioned in Ananthakavi’s Gommateshwaracharite.Other Jain poets like Koteshwara belong to the tradition of Jain Mutt.
The Jain Mutt temple is a exquisite structure attracting the pilgrims. The front porch of the mutt has elegantly carved pillars. There are three cells holding the several metal and marble images. The middle and the right cells have Chandranatha and Neminatha respectively. The image of Neminatha has an artistically executed mandasana or pavilion. The left cell has two metallic figures, the upper Saraswathi and the lower Jwalamalini. One of the interesting images of the Mutt include Navadevata idol i.e. the image of the nine deities. Besides there are also Panchaparameshtis. A metallic idol of about 2 feet high which was found while digging up the ground of a coffee plantation belonging to Mr.Crawford in the Manajarabad taluk was presented by him to the mutt. This image belongs to Ganga period. Kushmandini Devi the deity of Shravanabelagola occupies a distinct position in the mutt. The walls of the mutt are decorated with rich paintings denoting the lives of Jinas and Jaina kings. The right panel of the middle cell shows the Dasara durbar of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. The left one has the figures of Panchaparameshtis, Neminatha with his yaksha and Yakshi and a Jain Guru. The north mural has the picture of Parshwanath’s Samavasarana. The south wall has the scenes from the life of Bharatha Chakravarthi. The other paintings include the life of prince Nagakumar, Shadleshya, Parshwanatha and 24 Prophets.
Shubhachandracharya was the pontiff of the Jain Mutt during the reign of Hoysala Vishnuvardhana. He derived the name as Abhinava Charakeerthi Panditacharya in the latter years. The Wodeyars of Mysore enriched the heritage of Jain mutt.
Traditionally it is believed that Nemichandracharya (Nemichandra Siddantha Chakravarthy), the guru of Chavundaraya was the first pontiff of the mutt. The mutt has rendered services in the field of religion, art, literature and architecture. It has imparted religious education to students and others by conducting schools, religious scripture libraries, religious discourses and publishing and distributing religious books. It has also trained the students with religious rituals and ceremonies. The 34 Jain temples of Sri Kshetra come under the administration of the Jain Mutt.
The Jain mutt at Shravanabelagola has always been a prominent centre of Jain religion and culture. It has helped immensely in maintaining and enhancing the reputation of the place. It has acted as a spiritual university and pilgrim centre.
The Mangai Basadi dedicated to Shantinatha consists of a garbhagriha, a sukhanasi and a navaranga. An inscribed image of Vardhamana is placed in one of the cells of the navaranga. In front of the basadi are two well carved elephants. The basadi was built in about 1325 A.D. by Mangai of Belagola, a disciple of Charukeerthi Panditacharya and crest jewel of royal dancing girls and it was named Tribhuvana Chudamani.
Nagara Jinalaya bears a simple architecture with Devakoshtas. There is Adinatha Tirthankara statue in the Garbhagriha. It was built by Nagadeva in A.D. 1195. He was the minister and chieftain of Ballala II (A.D. 1173-1220). It is called Nagara Jinayala as it was looked after by the merchants of the place. It is also called Sri Nilaya.
Pancha Parameshti Basadi
The Panchaparameshti Basadi or the Danashale basadi near the entrance to Akkana Basadi enshrines the Pancha-parameshthi idol. The five panchaparameshtis are the Jinas, Siddhas, ACharyas, Upadhyas and the Sadhus.
This temple is found behind the Panchaparamasti Basadi and has a 3′ 6″ high black coloured idol of Lord Parshwanantha in Kayotsarga as the main deity. There is a small window like enclosure on the right side walls of this temple which is said to had been the place of preserving the Jaina Manuscripts. Hence the temple was called as ‘Siddantha Basadi’.
Akkana Basadi in the town, Shanthishwara temple in Jinanathapura built in 12th-13th century are the good pieces of Hoysala sculpture and architecture. These are built in soap stone. These have the Adishtana of similar nature. Garbagriha the sanctum sanctorum, sukanasi and sabha mantapa. The intricately carved Yaksha Dharanendra and Yakshi Padmavathi are see in Akkana Basadi. The main deity of Akkana Basadi is Parshwanatha (5 feet). The shanthinatha temple of Jiannathapura resembles the temples of Belur and Halebid. Akkana Basadi was built by Achiakka in A.D. 1121. She was the wife of the Brahmin minister Chandramouli in the court of Ballala II the Hoysala King. It is called Akkana Basadi as it was built by Achiakka. A village called Bommaiahanahalli was granted for its maintenance. Shanthinatha Basadi was built by Rechanna Dandanayaka according to the inscription found in Adhishtana. Rechanna was the commander in chief of Ballala II. It was constructed in the later part of 12th century.
Mahaveer Keerthi Sthambha
The Mahaveer Keerthichakra that had travelled all over India from Delhi to Shravanabelagola during the 2600th birth anniversary of Lord Mahaveer in 1976 has been installed here. The chakra has been mounted on a pillar like structure in between a small garden. This is located to the right of Chandragiri hillock near its foot steps.
This is a circular building found in between the Accommodation and the Janamangala Mahakalasha. This has been built in the honour of Sri Sahu Shanthiprasad Jain. This is an art gallery containing paintings and models of Tirthankaras and Lord Bahubali related to the panchakalyanas and the stories of Bharata and Bahubali and the engraving of Bahubali idol in Shravanabelagola. Found on the foot steps of the Indragiri hillock this gallery has been designed in such a way that it conveys the events in the life of Tirthankas and Lord Bahubali in a very impactful way to the common man and particularly the kids.
There is no entry fees charged for the art gallery and is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.
This is circular building found in between the Public Library and the Kalyani. The building houses the huge Jana Mangala Kalasha. The Kalasha made out of copper is very huge and had travelled all over India before the 1000th year Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali in 1981.
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