Karnataka ►Moodabidri ►Jain Temples

Posted: 18.11.2010
Updated on: 31.01.2013

Moodabidri Jain Temples

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Moodabidri (Tulu: ಮೂಡಬಿದ್ರಿ; Kannada: ಮೂಡಬಿದ್ರಿ; also called Mudbidri, Moodbiri or Bedra), an ancient center of Jain learning, is a small town about 37 km northeast of Mangalore, in Karnataka. It is situated at a beautiful spot in the midst of hills.

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Moodabidri was a center of Jain religion, culture, art and architecture during 14th to 16th centuries. It is famous as the "Jaina Kashi" of the South and is sanctified by the stay of great saints and poets. Jains from all parts of India come here to worship in the famous 18 Jaina Basadis that are dedicated to the memory of the Tirthankaras.

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Moodabidri witnessed an unprecedented growth as a center of Jain religion, culture, art and architecture during 14th to 16th centuries and more than 18 Jain temples, known as Basadis, were constructed during this period. The most famous among them are Guru Basadi, Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Basadi and Ammanavara Basadi.

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The Guru Basadi is believed to be the earliest of the Jain monuments of this place (714 CE). It is also called the Siddhantha Basadi and Hale (Old) Basadi. Lord Parshwanatha the 23rd Thirthankar of Jainism is the presiding deity of this temple. A beautiful stone idol of Parshwanatha (about 3,5 m tall) is installed in the sanctum of this Basadi. It is in this Basadi the rare Jain palm leaf manuscripts, known as "Dhavala texts", from 12th century CE were discovered.

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The Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani Basadi is the largest of its kind in coastal Karnataka and is considered to be the most ornate of the Jain temples of this region. Due to the large number and variety of pillars in this Basadi it is known as Savira Kambada Basadi (thousand pillared temple). The Jain tombs and Nyaya Basadi at Kodangallu, in the outskirts of Moodabidri are movements of great historical interest.

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This is a huge granite construction originally built in 1430 CE and was completed in three stages. The 2n5 m tall bronze image of Lord Chandranatha Swami housed in the sanctum of this Basadi is considered to be an image of utmost importance in Jainism. This huge, three storied movement was constructed by the collective effects of the rulers, the Jain Swamiji, merchants and also the common people by this ancient city.

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The most beautiful part of this temple is the open pillared hall in front, consisting by a rich variety of ornate pillars. The pillars and the roof this open hall are decorated with beautiful and minute carvings typical of Vijayanagara style. The 15-meter tall freestanding single stone pillar called manasthambha in front of the Basadi, is indeed a beautiful art.

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There are beautiful images of Jain Trirthankar, Yakshas and Yakshis in every Jain Basadi of Moodabidri. The stucco images in the Leppada basadi and Ammanavara Basadi are magnificent. The other basadis at Moodabidri are the following : 

  1. Badaga Basadi
  2. Shettara Basadi
  3. Hire Basadi 
  4. Betkeri Basadi
  5. Koti Basadi
  6. Vikrama Shetti Basadi
  7. Kallu Basadi
  8. Leppada Basadi
  9. Deramma Shetti Basadi
  10. Chola Shetti Basadi
  11. Maday Shetti Basadi
  12. Baikanatikari Basadi 
  13. Kere Basadi
  14. Padu Basadi
  15. Shri Mathada Basadi 
  16. Jaina Pathashaleya Basadi etc.

Nagagala Devi, the queen of Bhairava Raja, erected the Manastambha (a huge monolith of a height of 50 feet) in front of the Basadi.

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Moodabidri was a centre of Jain literature too. Ratnakara Varni, the doyen of medieval Kannada literature and the author of Bharatesha Vaibhava belonged to this place. The famous Jain canonical texts known as Dhavala texts and also a number of palm leaf manuscripts of immense literacy value are in the possession of the Jain monastery here. During Mughal assaults, the old Jain texts were shifted from Shravanabelagola to the safer Moodbidri. Rediscovered in the 1800s, these Moodbidri Manuscripts — Prakrit texts copied in old Hale-Kannada script, with pinpricks on palm leaves — are revered as the oldest written materials of the tradition going back to Arihant (recorded c. 1060 CE).

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A collection of three ancient manuscripts containing Dhavala, Jayadhavala and Mahadhavala, collectively called the "Siddhanta" in Digambara tradition, is preserved at Moodabidri. For many centuries, the only copy of the Siddhanta was this collection. 

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Moodabidri was also the seat of the Chowta’s, a local Jain ruling family, who were originally ruling from Puthige, a village about 5 km from here. This area was ruled by the Jain Chautar dynasty for about 700 years. Their descendants still live in an old palace. They shifted their capital to Moodabidri in the 17th century, where they constructed a palace, the remains of which can still be seen.

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Moodabidri still maintains its old charm as an important Jain centre coastal Karnataka. The city has a large population of Jains who keep the spirit of Jainism still alive. Many Jain festivals are also being celebrated here throughout the year. Moodabidri continues to the most sought after pilgrimage centre of the Jains from all over country.

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The Jain Math at Moodabadri is headed by a Bhattaraka belonging to the Mula Sangh order. At Moodabadri, there are some remarkable monuments to late Bhattarakas. These monuments, Nishadhikas in Sanskrit, are shaped like pyramidical stupas. The name "Charukirti" and the title "Panditacharya" is still borne by the Bhattarakas of Shravanbelgola and Mudabidri. The 31st occupant of the Shravanbelgola throne composed "Jainacharya Parampara Mahima" preserving the oral tradition of the order. 

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Source/Info

jaindharmonline.com

Compiled by PK

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