Karkala near Dharmasthala is mainly a Jain Historical centre with a Bahubali with 42 feet height attracting tourists from all over India and abroad!
Jainism was introduced in Karnataka by Lord Mahaveera in the 6th Century B.C during the course of his travels, when he converted Jivandhara, the king of the Hemangada Country into Jainism.
Foretelling a major famine, Monk Bhadrabahu, a leading figure of the Jain religion in the kingdom of Magadha in the 3rd century B.C, led a major migration to Karnataka with Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya and attained samadhi in the area now known as Shravanabelagola. By the 10th Century, Jainism had become a powerful force in the coastal regions of Karnataka and centres were established all along. With the ascendance of Hinduism, the influence of Jainism waned in the country, though Karnataka still has active Jain pilgrimage centres.
Karkala was originally known as Pandya Nagari.
The Alupas were the first to rule Karkala. Their rule was followed by the Santaras, who were the feudatories of Alupas for many years. Karkala, or ancient Pandya Nagari, attained political and cultural importance from the time of the Kalasa-Karkala kingdom that was established by Bhairarasa Odeyas between 13th and 16th centuries. The Bhairarasas appear to be the descendants of the Santara chiefs, who ruled the western ghats region around the 11th century AD.
The royal family of Karkala shot to prominence right from the time of the Hoysalas. During the Vijayanagara period this family reached new heights of glory. Their kingdom extended over a wider area comprising Sringeri, Koppa, Balehonnur and Mudigere in Chikamagalur and most of the Karkala taluk. They were rich and maintained a large army. Despite engaging in wars, peace prevailed in the kingdom and this led to increased cultural activity and development.
The first important king was Veera Bhairava, who constructed basadis at Karkala and endowed land and money to numerous temples and basadis. Ramanatha and Veerapandya were his two sons. Ramanatha died during his father’s time. In his memory, a scenic lake called Ramasamudra was created, which still survives.
(see the pics)
King Veera Pandya, at the insistence of his Guru Lalitakeerti, the pontiff of Karkala Jaina Math, installed a large statue of Bahubali on the rocky hill of Karkala,in 1432!Veera Pandya also installed the Brahmadeva Pillar in front of the statue!
An oriental school with free boarding and lodging facilities is being run here by the Bhujabali Brahmacharya Ashrama.
Abhinava Pandya’s successor was Pandya VI. He built the Kere Basadi in the middle of a lake called Anekere in 1545 AD. It is in this lake that the king’s elephants used to bathe. The Basadi and the lake still exist.
King, Immadi Bhairava (Bhairava II). constructed theChaturmukha Basadi on top of a small rocky hill in 1586. The Basadi has four identical entrances from the four quarters leading to the Garbagriha and hence is popularly known as Chaturmukha Basadi.
It is referred to as Tribhuvana Tilaka Jina Chaityalaya and Ratnaraya Dhama in some inscriptions. The Chaturmukha Basadi is built in the form of a square mandapa or hall with a lofty doorway and pillared portico on each of its four sides and a pillared verandah. The roof is flat and is made of massive granite slabs. It has lifesize statues of three theerthankaras on each side and small images of 24 Tirthankara. It took 30 years to construct this temple. In all, there are 108 pillars inside and outside the temple.
There are 18 basadis of antiquity, including Mahaveera Basadi, Chandranathaswamy Basadi, Adinathaswamy Basadi, Ananthanatha Basadi, Guru Basadi, and Padmavathi Basadi. However, the rulers of Karkala were tolerant towards other religions. Therefore, temples of other religions exist, including the temples of Anantashayana and Venkataramana, Mahamaya Mukhyaprana, and Adi Shakti.
(Please see my blog on Ananthasayanam Temple)