Posted: Monday, August 18th, 2008 | Views: 10420
Historical monuments  -   Karkala, Udupi District
45 kms from Mangalore City
How to reach:  Private Buses ply very frequently to Karkala from Mangalore & Udupi.
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Karkala is a town of historical importance and a famous pilgrim centre for Jains. There are 18 Jain basadis here. The Bahubali statue is the second tallest in the State and measure to 42 ft in height. The other statues in the State are at Shravanabelagola installed by Chamundaraya, which is 57-foot tall, at Venur installed by Timmaraja, which is 35-foot tall, and at Dharmasthala installed by D. Veerendra Heggade, which is 39-foot tall.

The breathtakingly lifelike statue of Gommateshwara cradled in enchanting natural scenery is well worth the steep, 200-step ascent to this awe-inspiring structure. Owing to the good maintenance by the Archaeological Survey of India, this structure of the Bahubali, along with the Chaturmukha Basadi, the Neminatha Basadi and the Ananthasayana temple, serves as a token of great pride to the Karkala district of Karnataka.

Situated northeast of Mangalore, the Gommata statute is nearly 600 years old and is the second tallest statue in Karnataka. Interestingly, this serene, 45-feet structure was carved out of a single granite-rock found near the surrounding hills and later dragged up the hillock and erected. The scriptures indicate that it took over a year for horses, elephants and men to lug this structure atop the hillock. Veerapandya Bhairarasa installed it to pay tribute to the Jains of that area, after being inspired by the lofty statue in Sravanabelagola, the tallest in the State.

The Bhramadevara Stambha is the granite pillar standing in front of the Gommata. This pillar has a small structure of Brahma carved on the top. Installed five years after the statue itself, it excels the Gommata in sculptural detail. Also called the Kshetrapala, this structure is believed to be the protector of the temple and its surroundings. Behind the Bahubali statue is a 12-pillared mantap, where ceremonies are usually performed.

Karkala was under the Alupas, who later ceded it to the Santaras, who ruled as the vassals of the former. While the Alupas were Shaivaites, the Santaras were Jains. There was matrimonial alliance between the two. Later, the Santaras became independent. By the 12th Century, the Santara kingdom had extended to include parts of Malenadu such as Mudigere, Balehonnur, Sringeri, Koppa, and some parts of Narasimharajapur. The areas above the Western Ghats had Kalasa as the provincial capital, while those below it first had Keravase as the capital which was later shifted to Karkala. Hence, the members of this dynasty were called Kalasa-Karkala rulers.

Despite accepting the suzerainty of the Vijayanagar kings, the Santaras enjoyed a large measure of autonomy. The rulers of Karkala were called Bhairarasas. King Veera Bhairarasa (1390-1420) was the first prominent king of the dynasty. He had Keravase as his main capital. He built basadis at Barkur and Hiriyangady. He was succeeded by his son, Veera Pandya, who was a scholar known for his generous disposition. He maintained good relations with the Sringeri Math. The biggest achievement of his reign was the installation of the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali at Karkala on February 13, 1432, on the instructions of the pontiff of Karkala, Lalitakeerti. On the completion of this feat, he got the title "Abhinava Chamundaraya.'' He also installed the "Brahma Stambha'' in front of the Bahubali statue on February 29, 1436.

He was succeeded by his nephew, Veera Pandya IV, who ruled from 1455-1475. He constructed the 57-foot "Manastambha'' in front of the Neminatha Basadi at Hiriyangady. On completion, he got the title "Abhinava Pandya.'' King Pandya VI, who signed a defence treaty with the Chowtas, built a basadi at Anekere. The next important king was Immadi Bhairava, who was instrumental in the construction of the Chaturmukha Basadi at Karkala and a "Sadhana Chaityalaya'' at Koppa. This dynasty is said to have come to an end in 1763 during the reign of Hyder Ali.

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