Jainism is one of the oldest religion in India. Though it is one of the oldest religion, we can evidently see its contribution and strong presence even today in several parts of the country. Many places in Karnataka too showcase the rich culture of Jainism. Among one such places is Moodabidri.
Moodbidri is popularly known as Jain Kashi. The name literally denotes eastern bamboo in Tulu. It is so called because there were many bamboo trees in existence once upon a time in the region. The most interesting thing about Moodabidri is that it has a curious connection with the number 18. The region houses 18 temples with 18 roads that connect to different villages in the vicinity, adorned with 18 lakes, and also home to 18 Jain Basadis.
However, the most prominent attraction of the City is Saavira Kambada Basadi. It is known for its magnificent pillars which are the hallmark of this ancient place of worship. The basadi is also called Tribhuvana Thilaka Choodamani Basadi which means the ‘crown jewel of the three worlds’. While the basadi was first designed in 1430 by the then local chief Devaraya Wodeyar, the current design was introduced in 1962. The construction m took around 31 years, and the result is the beautiful structure that we see today.
In the later stages of construction, various additions took place such as the prayer hall, and the Manasthamba (a tall pillar in front of Jain temples) among others which added to the beauty of the temple.
The temple consists of three separate floors, the uppermost of which is open for devotees only once a year. No wonder, the upper floor is one of the best-kept secrets of the biggest and oldest Jain temples in Asia.
If we come to architecture of the temple the multiple ‘mandapas’ are supported by pillars, which are a sight to behold! The awe-inspiring beauty of the structures and the impeccable carvings adorning them are a source of intrigue for those who lay their eyes on them. It is really amazing that despite the lack of modern technologists, sculptures have carved the stones with perfect measurements, lending the place a peaceful symmetry. From mythical animals to inspirations from Mother Nature, the carvings on these pillars seem to convey various stories and beautifully reflect the art and culture of ancient times.
This temple gained more prominence after much of the sacred Jain literature was shifted to Moodabidri from another important pilgrimage centre for Jains, Shravanabelagola, where it was previously kept. These texts, which came to be known as Moodabidri texts, were originally written in Prakrit but later were translated to ancient Kannada script. The Moodabidri texts have been inscribed in palm leaves, and are dated as far back as 1060 AD.
The other basadis in Moodabidri are Guru Basadi, Ammanavara Basadi, Vardhamana Basadi and many more.
Mangaluru, Sammalian Shetty’s Butterfly Park, Konaje Kallu, Kateel, St. Marys Island are the other nearby places where one can visit during Moodabidri trip. One can visit Moodabidri throughout the year.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons