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An ancient site connected with Jainism

Muralidhara Khajane



BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT: Panchakoota Basadi at Kambadahalli near Shravanabelagola.

SHRAVANABELAGOLA: Kambadahalli, which is just 18 km from Shravanabelagola, is one of the oldest sites connected with Jainism in the State.

A non-descript, remote village on the Shravanabelagola-Mandya road, Kambadahalli got its name from a Brahmadeva pillar located at the northwest corner of the village. Panchakoota Basadi and Shanthinatha Basadi, adjacent to the pillar, are the two important temples in the village. According to historians, these temples dates back to the Ganga period and both of them have been altered and expanded since they were built.

Panchakoota Basadi is one of the most beautiful of the Dravidian structures built in the Ganga style in the State along with Chavundaraya Basadi on Chandragiri at Shravanabelagola. Archaeological records date the temple to A.D. 900. But to broadly date it to the 10th Century would be a more accurate assessment, owing to the lack of inscriptional evidence.

The basadi consists of Trikootachala, where each of the three shrines has its own vestibule and is linked to a common Navaranga. To the north of the group of three shrines are two more shrines.

The whole complex is oriented to the north towards the Brahmadeva pillar. The main shrine in the houses an Adinatha image. The flanking cells have a Neminatha image in the east and a Shanthinatha image in the west. The two flanking cells to the north of the Trikootachala house an image of a Tirthankara.

The other basadi at the site reflects various phases. It is or was actually a twin temple, facing each other with a pillared hall, which was built at a later date, according to Robert J. Del Bonta, who conducted in-depth research on Kambadahalli. The western end of the temple is the Shanthinatha Basadi proper, as it houses an image of Shanthinatha, about 3 m tall, placed on an octagonal stand. This is clearly the oldest section of this group.

Though Kambadahalli is said to be one of the oldest sites connected with Jainism in the State, no attempt has been made to conserve it. However, due to the efforts of Sri Bhanukeerthi Swamiji of the mutt here, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken up conservation measures recently.

According to him, with a little improvement, the place can become one among the important tourist centres in the State.

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