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Venur-History, Ajilas & Mahamasthakabhisheka 2012

    While the count down for the mega event begins, here is a detailed, descriptive article on Venur – its history, the Ajilas, Mahamasthakabhisheka, the detailed programme schedule with an illustrious photo gallery & map.

    Karnaraka occupies a unique place in the history of Jainism and is popularly called as the Land of Bahubali Statues. This is because of the presence of many Bahubali idols across the state.

    Some of the popular Bahubali idols in Karnataka are –

    • Badami (Bagalkot district)
    • Basadi Hosakote (Mandya district, on the back waters of Krishnarajasagar Dam or the Brindavan Garden)
    • Dharmasthala (Dakshina Kannada district)
    • Gommatagiri (Mysore district)
    • Humcha (Shimoga district)
    • Karkala (Udupi – Erstwhile Dakshina Kannada district)
    • Shravanabelagola (Hassan district)
    • Venur (Dakshina Kannada district)

    Three Of the eight idols mentioned above belong to the erst while Dakshina Kannada district and the one at Dharmasthala which was consecrated in 1982 is latest of all the Bahubali idols. It stands as a testimony to the fact that the art of making huge idols is still prevelant in this region. Dakshina Kannada district holds a very special place in the history of Jainism in Karnataka and Jain literature. The one and only original copy of Dhavala Trayas (Dhavala, Jayadhavala, Mahadhavala) considered to be one of the most sacred Jaina works (agamas) was preserved at Moodabidri. Moodabidri is infact called as the Jaina Kashi because of its history associated with the Dhavalas and the 18 Jain temples. The Bahubali idol at Karkala infact is said to be next only to the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola in terms of beauty. Karkala also holds a unique place in the Jain history of this region due the presence of Bahubali idol and the 18 Jain temples. Likewise Venoor also has carved out a uniqe place for itself in Jain history due to the presence of Bahubali idol. In the ensuing lines let us discuss in detail about the Jain heritage, Jain Kings, the Bahubali statue and Jain temples at Venur.

    Venur/Venoor is a small town situated on the Northern banks of river Phalguni. It lies along the Dharmasthala – Moodabidri – Karkala route in the Belathangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada District. It is situated at a distance of 20 Kms from Moodabidri and 30 Kms from Dharmasthala along 13° 01′ 00″ N & 75° 08′ 00″ E. It was once a chief Jaina centre and was the capital of Ajilas who ruled the region.

    Origin of the word Venur – A few inscriptions of the place mentions the word ‘Yènuuru’. Further, it is implied that ‘Yelu Uru’ (‘Yelu’=seven, ‘Uru’=place’, i.e. seven places) has transformed into ‘Yènuuru’ and later Venuru. It is mentioned in the work ‘Jaina Achara’ that about 770 Jaina families lived at Venur.  700 in Kannada means ‘Yelunuru’, probably this might also be one of the reasons for the place being called as Venur.

    Ajilas of Venur

    The Ajilas who ruled the region with Venur as their capital initially and later with Aladangadi as their capital have called them selves as belonging to Chandravamsha (Vamsha = family) and as Saluva Kings. Their dynasty included the 16 Maganes (Mahaganas). Even to this day we can find their decendants residing at a palace called Aladangadi which was their palace then. We can also find another palace at Baraya, much older than the one at Aladangadi. The palace that was at Venur is in a dismantled state and the ruins can be found even to this day.

    Even though the Ajilas existed in the region since many centuries their stronf hold over the region during the initial few centuries was not evident due to the domination of Hoysalas. However, the Ajilas gained a firm hold over the region at the time of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana’s son.

    We can find references mentioning that the kingdom of Venur was called as Punjalike kingdom. Latter on while its capital was shifted to Aladangadi it was called as the Aruva dynasty. They were said to be Jains and happen to be the devotees of Lord Mahlingeshwara (a Hindu deity) at Venur. An inscription (967 A.D.) found in the sanctum sanctorum of this temple stands as a historical testimony of the period of the royal dynasty. They included the words ‘Sri Mahalingeshwara Prasanna’ in their royal emblem and all their correspondence as a mark of reverence to Lord Mahalingeshwara. One of the other records indicate that the Ajila’s consecrated the idol of Lord Mahalingeshwara at Venur about 1300 years ago. However, we do not have relevant documentation to support this fact. The presence of a structure similar to the Manastambha in front of the Mahalingeshwara temple indicate that this temple might have been built by Jain kings. They also belonged to the Aliyakattu tradition (a tradition that is prevelant in Dakshina Kannada district where in the kingdom/property of a person is inherited by their son-in-law instead of their son).

    Further an inscription of 1604 mentions that the Ajilas called themselves to be the descendants of Chamundanvaya. One of the reason for this might be because they might have belonged to the family of Chamudaraya who consecrated the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola. The other reason might because of the fact that they also consecrated the Bahubali idol at Venur similar to the one at Shravanabelagola.

    An inscription at Venur dated 1118 A.D. mentions that Sevyagellarasa was the first king of this dynasty. Timmanna Ajila-I (1154-1180) recaptured some of the areas ruled by Ajilas earlier. Further, he rejuvenated the ruined palace bearing the 7 storeyed pinnacle at Venur. After Timmanna Ajila-I the region was ruled by a king called as ‘Punja‘ for 6 years. This might be one of the reasons for Venur being called as ‘Punjalike Rajya’.

    Later the Kadamba king Kamadeva conquered Punjalike Rajya and gave it over to Madhurakka Devi, the daughter-in-law of Timmannajila-I. It is found that Madhurakka Devi ruled over this region after Timmannajila-I. The palace at Venur was also under her control. During her regime the Ajila kingdom included 13 Maganes. Further, she built a palace, a Jain temple and a Hindu temple at her capital Aladangadi.

    Madhurakka Devi was suceeded by her son Rayakumara Raja in 1186 A.D. He was suceeded by Timmanna Ajila-II, Pandyappa Ajila-I, Padumala Devi-I, Shankara Devi, Timmana Ajila-III, Madhurakka Devi-I, Pandyappa Ajila-II & Raya Kumara-II. There wasn’t any remarkable development during their regime. However, the kingdom flourished and was called as “Akkiya Ajila” (which means “The Ajilas with Rice”) by their neighbouring kings appreciating the state of affairs in the kingdom.

    An inscription unearthed at Belathangady (a taluk centre near Venur) indicates that Venur was ruled by Ramadevi from 1430-1460 A.D.

    One of the available references states that the region was ruled by Somanatha son of Kamadevi in 1489 A.D. It is also belived that Kamadevi also ruled the region for a certain period. One of the inscriptions at Moodabidri of 1515 A.D. mentions that Somnatha had made some donations to the Parshwanatha temple at Moodabidri. Another inscription mentions about Saluva Pandyappa Devarasa who ruled the region around 1537 A.D. His prime minister Binnani Baliya Aadya Devarasa built the Shanthishwara temple at Venur and had made some donations. They were said to be the followers of His Holiness Swasti Sri Lalithakeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Karkala Jain Mutt. Further it is said that 16 Settys (merchants) and 366 businessmen were assisting them.

    After the above kings, Timmanna Ajila-IV was the most famous of all. He succeeded the Ajila throne in 1550 A.D. He was one of the ardent followers of His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Moodabidri Jain Mutt and was conferred with the title “Dhanaradeya” (a person know for donating). Further, inspired by his guru he consecrated the 35 feet high idol of Lord Bahubali at Venur. The idol is said to have been carved in a ‘Kalyani’ (water tank) by a sculptor belonging to the family of Shambu Kalkuda the sculptor of the Bahubali idol at Karkala. A story related to the Bahubali idol states that there was a tussle between the Bhyarava kings of Karkala and Timmanna Ajila about the consecration of Bahubali idol. Finally the statue was installed on March 1, 1604. Every year the pada pooja of this statue is conducted on the 15th day of Phalguna Shuddha.

    Timmanna Ajila-IV had three wives. The first wife Pandyakka Devi or Vardhamanakka and Second wife Mallidevi built the Chandranatha Basadi called as Eada Basadi to the left of Bahubali idol. The third wife Parshwadevi or Binnani built the Shanthishwara Basadi called as Bala Basadi to the right of Bahubali idol. Both the temples we built in 1604 A.D.

    Madhurakka Devi-II suceeded Timmanna Ajila-IV in 1610 A.D. and ruled till 1647 A.D. References indicate that she conducted the first Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali at Venur. In an inscription of 1621 A.D. she is called as Madhurakkadevi Ammaji. She was an ardent follower of His Holiness Swasti Sri Lalithakeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of Karkala Jain Mutt. References indicate that she had donated for the Shanthishwara temple at Venur. Some of the Portugese records indicate that the Ajilas lost a battle against the rulers of Keladi in 1629 A.D.

    From 1647 A.D. onwards Madhurakka Devi-II was succeeded by Pandyappa Ajila – III and other kings. Shantaradevi Ajila succeeded the throne in 1680 A.D. and continued to rule till 1725 A.D. She was suceeded her son Timmanma Arasa Ajila (1725-1755 A.D.). Some of the other kings succeeded  him and continued the Ajila rule till 1786 A.D. Later on the Ajila’s came under the rule of Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan till 1799 A.D. After the death of Tippu Sultan in the 4th Anglo-Mysore war the Ajila’s came under the control of Britishers and lost their hold completely. Since then the Ajila’s received grants from the British Government.

    Some of the records available from the the present house of Ajilas mentions the names of some of the heads of Ajila family who existed over the past century and half which include Padmaraja Ajila (1882-1905), Harishchandra Ajila (1905-1960) and Krishnaraja Ajila (1960-95).

    Some of inscriptional references indicate that Venur was a commercial centre consisting of different classes of merchants (Settykars, Elames and Halarus).

    Punjalike Rajya
    One of the inscriptions found in the pedestal of a 24 Tirthankaras bronze statue at Kallu Basadi mentions that Venur was also called as Punjalike Rajya. As already mentioned the the region was ruled by a king called as ‘Punja’ for 6 years and this might be one of the reasons for Venur being called as ‘Punjalike Rajya’.

    Bahubali idol at Venur
    As already mentioned the Bahubali idol at Venur has carved out for itself an unique place in the Jaina history. This idol was consecrated in 1604 on a small hillock called as Bahubali Betta by Timmanna Ajila the formost and most popular among the Ajila Kings who ruled the region. Inspired by the preachings of his Guru His Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha SWamiji of Moodabidri Jain Mutt. The 35 feet high north facing proportionately carved idol is erected on an elevated pedestal without any support.

    Jain temples at Venur

    Apart from the Bahubali idol we can find as many as 7 Jain temples at Venur. Two temples are found at the entrance of fort like enclosure surrounding the Bahubali idol.

    Akkangala Basadi or Eda Basadi – Timmanajila’s first wife Padyakka Devi or Vardhamanakka and second wife Malli Devi built this temple with Lord Chandranatha as the main deity. It is either called as Akkangala Basadi or Eada Basadi and is situated to the left of Bahubali idol. This was built in 1604 A.D.

    Binnani Basadi or Bala Basadi – The third wife Parshwadevi or Binnani built the Shanthishwara Basadi called as Bala Basadi to the right of Bahubali idol. This was built in 1604 A.D.

    Parshwanatha Swamy Basadi – This temple is situated behind the fort like enclosure of the Bahubali statue. It has a metal (pancha loha – 5 metals) idol of Lord Parshwanatha as the main deity. Records indicate that the renovation of this temple was carried out in the year 1936 by his Holiness Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swamiji of the Moodabidri Jain Mutt.

    Kallu Basadi or Dodda Basadi or Shanthinatha Basadi – Since the temple has been completely built of stones (kallu) with tiled roofs it is called as Kallu Basadi. By virtue of being the biggest temple in Venur it is also called as Dodda basadi. It was built by Binnani Baliya Aadya Devarasa (prime minister of the Ajila king Saluva Pandyappa Devarasa) in 1489 A.D. and records indicate that he made some donations. It has a 5 feet high attractive idol of Lord Shanthinatha as the main deity. On either side of the idol can be found the idols of Garuda Yaksha and Mahamanasi Yakshi. In addition to this we can also find the idols of Lord Chandranatha, Lord Mahavira and a bronze statue of 24 Tirthankaras.

    Inscriptions at Kallu Basadi – We can find two inscriptions at Kallu Basadi. As mentioned above one of the inscriptions is found in the pedestal of a 24 Tirthankara bronze statue mentions that Venur was also called as Punjalike Rajya. The other inscription of 1621 has recorded the donations given to this temple by Madhurakka Devi who ruled the region.

    Adinatha Basadi – This Basadi is situated to the left of Kallu Basadi. It has an idol of Lord Adinatha in padmasana as the main deity.

    24 Tirthankara Basadi/Ammanavara Basadi – This temple is situated to the right of Kallu Basadi. It has the seperate idols of all the 24 Tirthankaras in Kadgasana (standing posture) installed in a row. To the right of the Tirthankara idols is found an idol of Goddess Saraswathi and to the left is found an idol of Goddess Padmavathi. Due to the presence of Goddess Padmavathi the temple is some times called as Ammanavara Basadi. Ammanavaru is a term used by Jains in Karnataka to denote Goddess Padmavathi. An inscription found to the right of this temple mentions that it was built in 1537.

    Vardhamana Swamy Basadi – It has the idol of Lord Vardhamana Mahavira as the main deity.

    Reaching Venur

    It lies along the Dharmasthala – Moodabidri – Karkala route in the Belathangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada District. It is situated at a distance of 20 Kms from Moodabidri and 30 Kms from Dharmasthala. It has good approach roads from Mangalore, Dharmasthala, Moodabidri, Karkala and many other important places in Karnataka. The nearest railway stations to Venur are Mangalore,B.C.Road & Udupi. The nearest airport to Venur is at Mangalore.

    Accommodation Details

    Venur being a small town does not have many options as far as accommodation is concerned. People visiting the place will have to make sufficient arrangements at nearby places such as Dharmasthala, Moodabidri, Karkala & Mangalore.


    The word Mahamasthakabhisheka is a combination of three words ‘Maha'(great), ‘Masthaka’ (head)and ‘Abhisheka’ (anointing). Which when translated in English language literally means “Great Head Anointing” ceremony. This a ritual carried out to the Bahubali idols once in every twelve years. Strictly speaking the head anointing ceremony of the 57 feet idol of Lord Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is called as Mahamasthakabhisheka and a similar ceremony carried out to the rest of the Bahubali idols is called as Masthakabhisheka. However, over a period of time the ceremony conducted to any of the Bahubali idols once in every 12 years is called as Mahamasthakabhisheka. We should say that the concept of Mahamasthakabhisheka evolved in Karnataka and as already cited Mahamasthakabhisheka is a regular feature observed to almost all the Bahubali idols.

    Why only 12 years?
    There are two beliefs related to the origin of the concept of conducting masthakabhisheka to the Bahubali idol once in 12 years. One belief says that it is conducted as per the wish of Chavundaraya who consecrated the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola. Other belief says that the sculptors took 12 years for carving the Bahubali idol at Shravanabelagola hence the abhisheka is conducted once in every 12 years. Irrespective of the motive/reason it has become a regular feature in Karnataka and many other places across India that the Masthakabhisheka to huge Jain idols are conducted once in every 12 years.

    Bahubali in Jainism – Bahubali is not a Tirthankara, however he is the son of the first Tirthankara Adinatha. He is the first person to attain salvation (moksha), it is because of this reason that Bahubali is looked up with great reverence by Jains.

    Mahamasthakabhisheka Rituals – Unlike the Panchakalyana rituals conducted for Tirthankaras, only three Kalyanas are conducted to Lord Bahubali. They are – Diksha Kalyana, Kevalagnana Kalyana and Nirvana Kalyana. However, the Pancha Kalyanas are conducted to any one of the Tirthankaras at the time of Mahamasthakabhisheka.

    Abhishekas performed during Mahamasthakabhisheka – Usually the Mahamasthakabhisheka starts with Jala-abhisheka followed by Panchamrutha abhisheka. The Jala-abhisheka is carried out with either 108 or 504 or 1008 Kalashas. Kalasha is a pot of water covered by beetel leaves and a coconut. The pot of water is poured on the head of the Lord by devotees while the priests chant the holy hymns.

    Panchamrutha Abhisheka – The Jabhisheka is followed by Panchamrutha abhisheka. Panchamrutha Abhisheka invloves anointing the idol with different items. These include Nairkela (tender coconut), Ikshurasa (sugarcane juice), Kshera (milk), Swetha Kalakachurna (rice flour), Harita Kalakachurna (rice flour mixed with turmeric), Kashaya (a juice prepared by boilng different ingredients), Sri Gandha (sandal wood paste), Chandana (a plant extract similar to Sandal wood paste with a differnet flavour), Ashta Gandha (a combination of eight types of Sandal wood pastes), Kesara (saffron), Haladi (Turmeric), Suvarnaratna Pushpavrusthi (a collection of different kinds of flowers mixed with golden-suvarna flowers and sacred gems and stones), Pushpavrushti (a collection of different kinds of flowers).

    Arrangement of Kalashas – Usually the Kalashas are arranged systematically as specified in the Jaina agamas. If it is planned to anoint the idol with 1008 Kalashas then the Kalashas will be arranged such that there are arranged in a systematic distributed manner equally in four different halves. When all the four halves are joined they form a square. In the centre is placed the Purnakumbha Kalasha which will be the biggest of all the Kalashas. At four corners of the Kalasha configuration are placed four Kalashas of bigger size that are bigger than the rest of 1008 Kalashas but smaller than the Purnakumbha kalasha. These are called as Chatushkona Kalashas.

    Usually the Bahubali idol will be anointed with Chatushkona Kalashas after the Panchamrutha abhisheka followed by the Purnakumbha Kalasha. The purnakumbha Kalasha abhisheka is followed by Indra Ashta Dravya pooja and Mahamangala arathi. Before the Mahamangala Arathi the Bahubali idol will be garlanded. The garland will be made of flowers got from different part of India and the world.

    Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali at Venur

    Though the idol was installed in the year 1604 not much historical references are available about the Mahamasthakabhisheka held prior to 1928 either in any inscriptions or literary works. There are references of the event being held in 1928, 1956 and 2000. Since 1956 there wasn’t any Masthakabhishekas performed to the idol. Astrologers and vastu experts termed this to some vastu defects that existed around the idol. Members of the Jain community consulted many astrologers and vastu experts from India and abroad in the latter part of 1990s and got it rectified. Repairs were carried out around the idol during the 1990s and the Masthakabhisheka was performed in 2000.

    Mahamasthakabhisheka 2012

    The Mahamasthakabhisheka to Lord Bahubali at Venur will be conducted from 28th January to 5th February 2012. Different religious rituals, aradhanas etc will be conducted during the day and the Mahamasthakabhisheka will be conducted from 7.00-10.00 pm every day. On all the days the Jalabhisheka will be followed by panchamrutha abhisheka.

    Programme Schedule

    Inauguration of Mahamasthakabhisheka – 28-01-2012 – 3.30 pm onwards.

    Holy Presence & Ashirvachana –

    His Holiness Srimad Jagadguru Karmayogi Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Pattacharyavarya MahaSwamiji (Shravanabelagola Jain Mutt)
    His Holiness Srimad Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Raghaveshwara Bharathi Mahaswamiji (Sri Ramachandrapura Mutt, Hosanagara)

    Inauguration –

    Sri D.V.Sadananda Gowda (Chief Minister of Karnataka)

    President –

    Rajarishi Dr.D.Veerendra Heggade (Dharmasthala)

    Honorary Presence –

    Dr. Padmaprasad Ajila (Member of the Ajila Family of Aladangadi)

    Releasing Souvenir –

    Sri Krishna G Palemar (District in charge Minister, Dakshina Kannada District)

    Inauguration of Exhibition –

    Sri Nalin Kumar Katil (Member of Parliament, Mangalore)

    Book Release –

    Sri Vasantha Bangera (Member of Legislative Assembly, Belathangady)

    Chief Guests –

    Captain Ganesh Karnik (Member of Legislative Council, Bangalore)

    Smt K.T.Shailaja Bhatt (President, Dakshnia Kannada Jilla Panchayat)

    Smt Mamatha Shetty (President, Belathangady Taluk Panchayat)

    Sri Dejappa Shetty (President, Venur Grama Panchayat)

    Hosts – Members of the Ajila Family and Aladangadi Palace

    Cultural Programmes – 6.30 to 10.30 pm

    ReligiousProgrammes from January 28th-February 5th 2012.
    Cultural Programmes from January 28th-February 5th 2012 (on the exhibition stage).

    DOWNLOADS – Related Links

    An attractive Photo Gallery of the Bahubali idol & Jain temples at Venur

    For Further details of the event please visit the official site of the event WWW.VENUR.IN

    An appeal from the Mahamasthakabhisheka Committee 2012 – In Kannada

    Detailed Programme Schedule of Religious & Cultural programmes of Mahamasthakabhisheka 2012 – In Kannada

    Detailed Programme Schedule of Religious & Cultural programmes of Mahamasthakabhisheka 2012 – In English

    Invitation of the event – Hindi






    References -
    1. Dr.S.D.Shetty : Tulunadina Jaina Dharma – Ondu Samskruthika Adhyayana (2002) – Published by Rashtrakavi Govinda Pai Samshodhana Kendra, Udupi.
    2. Muniraja Renjàla: Venuru – Ondu Aitihasika Hinnota – (Rajatha Chintana -2011 – Edited by Venu Gopala Bhat) – Published by Sri Dharmasthala Manjunateshwara Kaigarika Tarabethi Samsthe, Venur.
    3. Deccan Herald – 3rd May, 2011.
    4. Wikipedia.
    6. Brochures & Invitations of Venur Sri Bahubali Mahamasthakabhisheka Commitee 2012.
    7. Other Religious books.

    Map and Layout of the Jain Temples at Venur

    View Venur in a larger map

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