Article: Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Candra-giri

Temple complex on Candra-giri, the lower of the two hills at Shravana Belgola. Candra-giri boasts 16 temples and several holy objects and, since it is less visited than its sister hill, retains a peaceful, spiritual atmosphere.

Temples on Candra-giri
Image by Dineshkannambadi © CC BY-SA 3.0

There are 16 temples on Candra-giri, most of which are generally small in size. The oldest one dates back to the eighth century though most of them were completed in the 12th century.

In addition, there are holy objects on the hill that are significant in either religious or artistic terms. These comprise sculptures and buildings as well as a large granite boulder.

Main temples of Candra-giri

Temple

Date of completion

Features

Chamundaraya Basti

982

Built by Cāmuṇḍarāya, it houses an image of the 22nd Jina Neminātha or Lord Nemi on the ground floor and of the 22nd Jina Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva on the upper storey.

Shantinath Basti

 

It features a statue of the 16th Jina Śāntinātha or Lord Śānti.

Chandragupta Basti

 

Marking the spot where Candragupta fasted to death, it holds a two-part stone screen depicting stories of Bhadrabāhu and Candragupta. The screen is a later addition, probably of 12th-century origin.

Parshvanath Basti

 

It houses an idol of Pārśva with seven snakehoods plus a younger, freestanding pillar – māna-stambha – built in 1700.

Kattale Basti

1118

Meaning the 'Dark Temple', it was repaired in 1885 and holds an image of the first Jina Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha.

Chandraprabhu Bati

probably 800

It houses an image of the eighth Jina Candraprabha-svāmī or Lord Candraprabha.

Shasan Basti

1137

Called the 'Inscription Temple', it features a statue of Ṛṣabha and an inscription at the door.

Majjigana Basti

 

Named after the builder, the temple holds an image of the 14th Jina Anantanātha or Lord Ananta.

Eradukkate Basti

1118

It houses an image of Ṛṣabha.

Savati Gandha Varan Basti

1123

It contains an idol of Śānti.

Terin Basti

1115

It is dedicated to Bāhubali.

There are other sacred objects on Candra-giri that are of religious and artistic note.

Notable holy objects on Candra-giri

Holy object

Description

Chamundaraya Sila

A big boulder of granite of this name at the foot of Candra-giri.

Kuge Brahma-deva Stambha

A lofty pillar at the south entrance of the enclosure with a seated figure of the god Brahma-deva on top.

Mahanavami Mandap

Two pavilions to the south of Kattale Basti with stone slabs, one of which records the fasting unto death of a Jain monk in 1176.

Bharateshwarji

A statue of Bharata, Bāhubali's half-brother, from knees to head.

Iruve Brahmadeva Temple

Outside the walled area, this temple was built in 950 and houses an image of Brahma-deva.

Shravana Belgola town

The town of Shravana Belgola holds several temples and religious buildings that attract pilgrims and visitors interested in art and history. Mostly dating from the 12th century, the temples and other buildings shine a light on the religious and political history of the site over the centuries.

Main temples in the village of Shravana Belgola

Temple

Date of completion

Features

Bhandari Basti

Houses images of the 24 Jinas in the main pavilion.

Akkan Basti

1180

Dedicated to the 22nd Jina Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva.

Siddhant Basti

1700

Its name arose because it used to house the authoritative Digambara scriptures.

Danashale Basti

The place where the maharajahs gave donations for the upkeep of the shrines and chief statue.

Kallamma

 

A non-Jain temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kālī, to which the Jain Maṭha sends rice.

Nagar Jinalaya

1195

Features a standing figure of the first Jina Ṛṣabhanātha or Lord Ṛṣabha.

Mangayi Basti

1132

Shelters an image of the 16th Jina Śāntinātha or Lord Śānti.

Jain Maṭha

10th century

Headed by the bhaṭṭāraka, it owns several villages and lands and is a centre of economic activity.

Later history of Shravana Belgola

The statue of Bāhubali at Shravana Belgola is drenched in red during the ‘great head-anointing ceremony’ – mahāmastakābhiṣeka – in 2006. The centrepiece of a month-long festival, the spectacular rite involves tipping different consecrated substances.

Statue of Bāhubali anointed with red
Image by Dhiraj Chawda © Dhiraj Chawda

A survey of the temples and sacred objects found on the site shows that the main architectural activity was completed before 1300. Yet the following centuries saw some additions and enlargements, demonstrating how royal dynasties continued to patronise Jainism in Shravana Belgola. This was the case not just with the Jain dynasty of the Hoysalas (1006–1345), but also with the Vijayanagara kings and the Mysore rulers from the 17th century onwards. Although non-Jain, they were tolerant of Jainism, at least to some extent. They showed their protection through grants of lands or money to repair the temples and by encouraging Jain worship.

Even so, religious life in the site was less vibrant than in earlier periods because after the 12th century the influence of the local Jain communities diminished. This was felt in several areas, such as:

Nowadays, Shravana Belgola is a peaceful, holy place with about 10,000 inhabitants, but every dozen years the population increases temporarily by thousands during the renowned ceremony of anointing the statue of Bāhubali. This huge event is managed by the state government of Karnataka with the active support of the local bhaṭṭāraka and of Digambara communities all over India.

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