When we started our blog we were often suggested to write about Udupi and Mangalore or to be precise about our hometown Karkala. After spending our last few days here attending one of the historic events of the town, Mahamasthakabhisheka we decided to share our experience with you all. Staying away from home, not only it gave us an opportunity to spend time with our family but also helped to get reacquainted with our culture and root.
Located at the coastal part of Karnataka State, famously known as Tulunadu (Udupi and Dakshina Kannada) has history dating back to 3rd Century AD. Karkala is one such town that has been a major contributor to Tuluva culture. Perched on the foothills of Western Ghats this quaint little town has been centre for Jain devotees for many years.
One of the major attractions of the town is the 41.5 feet monolithic granite statue of Lord Bahubali located at the hilltop of Gommatabetta. The statue was consecrated in the year 1432 by King Veera Pandya of Bhairava dynasty. Every 12 years the Jain community celebrates the Mahamasthakabhisheka event, a sacred ritual performed since ancient times (the first Masthakabhisheka in Karkala was held in 1646). The Mastakabhisheka is a ceremony of worshipping Lord Bahubali for his sacrifice, and his principles of non-violence and peace.
The grand event was held this year from 21st of January to 30th January and we sisters were lucky to witness this celebration. During the ceremony, the statue of Lord Bahubali will be bathed in water and various other dravyas (liquids) like milk, coconut water, sugarcane juice, turmeric, sandalwood etc. Lakhs of people from all over India come to witness this grand event and participating in the anointing ceremony is considered as a way of cleansing your mind, body and soul by the Jains.
The statue is in its full glory while the various abhishekas are performed and is an absolute delight to watch as people sing and dance making you forget the outside world. Apart from the anointing ceremony of the statue, various cultural programs, exhibitions and fairs are also held. Although it’s a religious ceremony the entire town of Karkala gets together to celebrate this 10-day event.
Very close to the Gommabetta is another famous Jain temple, the Chaturmukha Basadi, which was built by another Bhairava King in 1586. The temple has four identical doors facing four directions, hence the name Chaturmukha and one of the doorways faces the statue of Lord Bahubali. The structure of the Basadi resembles a square mandap with 108 pillars in total all around the verandah and is flat roofed with huge granite slabs placed on top. The Basadi has about 6 feet large statues of 18th, 19th and 20th (Ara, Malli and Munisuvrath) Thirthankars alongside Goddess Padmavati. The Basadi is famous for its unique architectural design and is mentioned as “Ratnatraya Dhama” in ancient inscriptions.
Both the Basadi and the Gomateshwara statue are protected under The Archaeological Survey of India as excellent examples of ancient art and architecture.
The closest cities to Karkala are Udupi and Mangalore and closest airport is the Mangalore International Airport.
Apart from Karkala, Karnataka state has three other monolith statue of Lord Bahubali in Shravanabelagola (57 feet), Dharmasthala (39 feet) and Venur (35 feet).
Photo Courtesy : Nerenki Parshwanath, Ravivarma, Rathan Barady and Niranjan Jain.