Madhya Pradesh ►Kundalpur ►Shri Digamber Jain Siddha Kshetra Kundalgiri

Posted: 16.03.2011
Updated on: 31.01.2013

Shri Digamber Jain Siddha Kshetra Kundalgiri

The article was published in 1948 in The Jaina Gazette (Vol. XLV, Number 9, September 1948, p. 94), so the depiction of the condition of the site and the temple buildings reflects the situation in the years after the Indian independence. In contrast, the added photos show the situation of the site today, after great efforts of restoration.

Sri Kundalpurji (or Kundalgiri) is a well-known and popular place of Jain pilgrimage. It is one of what are called Atikshaya-kshetras, miracle places. It is a tiny village about 24 miles from Damoh railway station on the Bina-Katni branch of the G.I.P. Railway. There is no metalled road. Surrounded by a splendid series of hills shaped into a horse-shoe, it is a beauty spot of nature. In the heart of these hills is the beautiful tank called Vardhaman Sagar, in which is reflected in rainbow hues an array of 58 Jain temples, situated around it and on the hills. Intricate in plan, and extravagant in decoration, these temples are remarkable not only for their grandeur, fineness and artistic execution, but also for their historic importance. They hold in their bosom the history of ancient Jain culture and civilization of 1,400 years back.

The main temple, known as the temple of Bade Baba, stands at an height of 3,000 feet above sea-level, in the midst of the horse-shoe hills. In this temple is the colossal statue of Rishabhanatha [1] carved out of a single stone, in elegant cross-legged (padmasan) posture. This statue is 12 feet high and is placed on a 3-feet high pedestal. For sheer artistic beauty and fineness of expression it has no parallel in the whole of India, and remains one of the richest monuments of Jain art and culture.

There are many spots here, which, if excavated, might reveal facts of historic importance and throw light on the ancient history of the place. The place badly needs repairs and renovation. Two of the temples, probably of the 6th century, have been reduced to heaps of debris for want of repairs. One of the statues was installed by Singhai Mansukh-bhai of Raipura in Samvat 1183 (1126 CE). A stone inscription of 1501 and another of 1532 are found in a Gumti. There are many statues of the 15th century. The corridor behind the temple of Bade Baba is closed. So is the big dark cell underneath it. It is said that there was a hole in the thigh of the statue of Bade Baba, and if a coin was dropped inside it, it went down to some unknown mysterious place making strange noises during its passage. Considering such dropping of coins, a misuse of money, the management of the temple closed the hole some 15 years ago.

About half a mile from Kundalpur in the small village of Fatehpur are found the remains of the famous Rukmini Math temple, a massive construction of the 6th century. The Sanskrit inscription at the entrance door of the temple of Bade Baba shows that the Bundela rulers took interest in the maintenance and repairs of the temples. The ancient temple of Bade Baba is said to have remained buried in the ground for about 200 years. Raja Chhatarsal reconstructed the temple and restored it to its ancient glory and fame, in fulfilment of a vow he made there, when he was taking shelter against the chase by Aurangzeb's troops. After completion of the reconstruction work, Raja Chhatarsal visited the temple on Monday, Magh Shukla 15, 1757. He worshipped the image of Bade Baba with pomp and show, and donated huge sums of money, and utensils of gold and silver for the upkeep and maintenance of the temple. A big plate of brass presented by him is still preserved in the temple store. A huge fair is annually held from Magh Shukla 11 to 15.

Impressions of Kundalgiri and its temples


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