Monday, December 30, 2013

Basadis of Bhatkal

I had heard a lot regarding existence of Jain basadis located in muslim dominated Bhatkal.  So i decided to venture and explore the age old Jain basadis which have been converted to Hindu temples by the local community in due course of time.
Jettappa Nayakana Basadi :  This happens to be largest Basadi situated closer to the town which goes towards the police station and market.  One has to take a U turn if one is travelling towards Goa from Mangalore to visit this Basadi, which is roughly two kms and it is on the main road itself on the left hand side. 

This basadi was built by Naryana Nayak in 1556, who was son of a general in Queen Chennabhairadevi ( who is also known as Pepper Queen ) who ruled this territory. We can surmise that Jettappa Nayak was a prosperous pepper trader from Bhatkal.  The two storied structure housed the images of jain thirtankaras, such as Neminath, Parsavnath, Mallinath, etc, who were all jain saints.  The upper floor is closed to public in lieu of protection of the monument. 
On the left hand side of the complex, one can witness an enclosed Pillar Manasthamba, which is miniature in size.  Behind the main complex is a hall which has huge Pillar Manasthamba which signifies jain basadi.  The entire complex seems to be renovated and landscaped to protect the jain heritage of the town.

Most of the statues and engravings are missing from the complex or facade of the Basadi, either they have been taken away for safe keeping in a museum or vandalised by invaders according to me.  

Inscriptions found in the temple complex states that Bhatkal was once a prosperous port town wherein horses were imported and sugar and white rice along with spices were exported. The inscriptions also confirm the reign of Vijaynagar Empire which was a prosperous kingdom during the 16th century.
Location :  If one is driving on NH 17 ( now NH 66 ) one should watch out for a right turn just two 2 km before Bhatkal town which also happens to be road leading to railway station.  Ask for railway station instead of Jain Basadis if one is travelling from Gokarna or Goa towards Udupi or Mangalore.  It is 2 kms after one crosses Bhatkal town. There are series of 6 temples or Basadis located one after the other.
Erotica at Ketapai Nayak temple is the icing on the cake for one interested in this form of sculpture.  Some of them are fashioned on likes of Aihole & Khajuraho.  It also indicates the open culture of the Indians who followed the manual of Kamasutra to the core.  

Ketapai Naryana Temple :  This temple was built in 1546 by a businessman named Ketapai who used to trade in horses and other imported stuff from Arabia, which was supplied to mainly Vijaynagar Empire. The pillar at the entrance of the temple premises is typical of Jain Manastambha and therefore qualifies for status of Basadi. 

Suddenly one notices the erotic sculpted on the side platforms of the temple premises.  Some panels look like plain wrestling and some of them display erotica in a mild form.  The panel on the temple facade on the right clearly displays Khajuraho type of erotic which is clearly fading away.

Our ancestors seem to have mastered the manual of Kamasutra looking at the sculptures embedded on the facade of the temple.  Westerns may have considered it gross in olden times, but looking at the sculpture, sexual exploits were probably at its zenith considering the prosperity prevailing during the Vijaynagar era.

Inside one comes across a small temple which is guarded by two dwarpalkas and a fabled dragon at the enterance.  The slabs above the temple is built sliding towards the ground inorder to ensure that heavy rainfall does not cause damage to the structure.  The temple is well ventilated with various windows surrounding the rectangle shaped temple.  The facade of the temple is well decorated literally with various scenes of Ramayana including the yagna, coronation of lord Rama, etc.

Ketapai Basadi is one of the first of the Basadis one can witness going along on the right side of the road.  Than if one proceeds further one comes across the next temple or basadi.

Joshi Shankarnarayana temple : Another small temple complex is located further to Ketapai Narayana temple with a compound gate.  This premises houses a small temple built with granite with a sloping inclined roof to protect the temple from heavy humidity and rainfall.  The compound is occupied by the priest who was conducting a function for the devotees when we visited the temple.  This temple too has been built around Ketapai temple by rival businessmen inorder to keep up the tradition of donating to the lord.
Adike Narayan Basadi :  Luckily this premise does not seem to have been occupied by temple priests family.  The compound adjescent has house built, maybe an encroachment too.  This temple was built around 1500s by donations from arecanut farmers, therefore the temple is called Adike ( which in Kannada means arecanut ) Naryana temple. This basadi rather has a beautiful pillar welcoming one into the compound.

Shantappa Thirumala Nayaka Temple : This temple was built in 1555 by Shantappa Nayaka who seems to be a grocery trader of Bhatkal.  This temple has a small temple built in conical shaped roof, and embedded with carvings on the window panels of the temple.  The sanctum sanatorium consists of diety and the priest resides in the compound of the temple.  This temple too has some erotic engravings on the platform of the temple just like Ketapai temple.  The Pillar is absent in this temple, which may have collapsed due to ageing. 
Lakshmi Narashima Temple :  This temple is the furtherest of all temple, which we let go due to paucity of time along with Lakkar Kamti temple.
Overall it was wonderful exploring the exoctic basadis at Bhatkal, we heard Bhatkal Biryani too is famous, but one has to go inside the town, to have a taste of the same, however i have tasted plenty of Bhatkal biryanis, so we had a good vegetarian lunch at 4 seasons which also serves good non veg too, it is located next to Vijaya Bank after one crosses the Bhatkal main cirlce.


R Niranjan Das said...

Lovely post! Got to explore these.

Arun said...

Nice post Umesh. I was not aware of so many Basadis in Bhatkal..

Puru@ShadowsGalore said...

Beautiful writeup Umesh :)

dimpy roy said...

Very nice post. A visit to Karnataka would be incomplete without a visit to Bhatkal Beach, so unwind, relax and soak in the sun! Check out best hotels in Bhatkal also.


cannons ready to fire

About Me

My photo
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.