By Dr. A. V. Narasimha Murthy

At the outset it is necessary to clarify that the division of Karnataka Into South and North is only for the sake of convenience. In this connection north Karnataka is taken as the area comprising the present Karnataka excluding the old Mysore State. The monuments in these districts have been considered in a chronological manner taking the dynasties also into consideration.


The origin of Jaina architecture in north Karnataka is still uncertain as the vestiges of the early period have not come down to us. Jaina structures contemporary to the sojourn of Bhadrabahu to Sravanbelgola have not been found here so far. Even the early historic excavations which exhibit Satavahana culture as at Vadagaon Madhavpur and Sannati have not yielded any antiquity or structure that can be associated with Jainism. However, it has to be noted that the antiquities and structures of the former site have yet to be studied in detail and the latter site is yet to be fully excavated. This leaves us with the Kadambas of Banavasi who were known to be patrons of Jainism as evidenced by their inscriptions.


The existance of Jaina temples during the period of the Banavasi Kadambas is amply evidenced by their epigraphs. The earliest references to a grant by a Kadamba king to a Jaina saint is found in the Halasi copper plate of kakusthavarman.1 It mentions that the granted village Khatagrama belonged to arhanta. However, a reference to a Jain temple (Chaityalaya) is found in the Devagiri copper plate of Mrigesavarman.2 The insription states that Mrigesavarman gave a grant for the sammarjana, upalepana, archana and bhagnasamskara of the Chaityalaya located at Brihatparalur. Further he also donated for the enclosure of the Chaityalaya one nivartana of land. This clearly shows that the above Chaityalaya was big enough to have an enclosure also. In the Devagiri inscription of Vijaya Siva Mrigesavarman a reference is made to arhat sale where an image of Jinendra was kept. 3 Mrigesavarman's Halasi inscription of 8th regnal year states that the king built a Jinalaya in memory of his father in Palasika and granted lands to saints of Yapaniya, nirgrantha and kurchaka sangha.4 Ravivarma's eleventh regnal year inscription found at Halasi refers to a grant for the abhisheka of Jinendra.5 Obviously this refers to a, Jaina temple. Another inscription of the same king refers to the worship of Jinendra for which four nivartanas of land was granted .6

The famous Gudnapur inscription of Ravivarman is more explicit on this point.7 According to this inscription King Ravivarma built a temple, kamajinalaya for Manmatha, very' near the palace (rajavesma) and arranged for its worship by granting lands. At the same time he also gave grants to Kamajinalaya at Hakinipalli and Padmavati temple at Kalliligrama. Dr. B.R. Gopal who has edited this inscription has suggested that this Kamajinalaya is a temple for Bahubali, as Bahubali is described as Manmatha. If this is so, the tradition of erecting gommata sculptures goes back to the period of Kadambas and to sixth century A.D. itself. However, Dr. A. Sundara has discovered a sculpture of Rati and Manmatha at the same place. Whether this was the sculpture worshipped in the Kamajinalya cannot be ascertained. What is more important is the tradition of building Jaina temples for Manmatha and even Padmavati.
The Halasi inscription of Ravivarma refers to interesting information.8 It states that the income from the gifted village should be used for eight-day festival in Kartikamasa in the Jinalaya at Palasikanagara. It states at the end wherever Jinendra worship takes place properly, that place will prosper without any fear from enemies and the prowess of the king will improve. The Devagiri plates of prince Devavarma refers to gifts for the worship in the Chaityalaya and for the repairs of the Chaityalaya.9

All the inscriptions referred to above mention gifts for worship and repair to Jaina temples. However, many of them refer to a Jaina temple at Halasi. The Jaina temple' now standing at Halasi can not go back to a period earlier than eleventh century A.D. Then the question is what happened to the basadis referred to in the inscriptions. Perhaps they might have been built by wood and obviously perished. A. Sundara's field work at Halasi throws very important light on this point.1O Very close to the Kallesvara temple at Halasi, he discovered an ancient site going back to megalithic and early historic periods. A large number of brick walls of the ancient period have been noticed by him in and around and abviously he thinks that this represents the Jaina temple built during the Kadamba period. Full scale excavations at Halasi and Gudnapur are bound to yield the brick temples of this early period. That would, show the contribution of the Kadambas of Banavasi to the Jaina architecture of Karnataka.

After the rule of the Kadambas of Banavasi most parts of north Karnataka came under the rule of the early or Badami Chalukyan kings. Their contribution to architecture and sculpture is not only well known but unprecedented. Most kings of this powerful dynasty patronised Jainism also though they were the followere of Vedic Hinduism. This is attested to by many inscriptions including that of the Aihole inscription of Pulakesi II, composed by the famous poet Ravikirti. The Jaina architectural beginnings made earlier by the Kadambas of Banavasi, crystalised into better structures in stone during the early Chalukyan period. As they used stone as the medium of their architecture, they have come down to us in good numbers.

The Chalukyas of Badami ate known for their rock cut temples as well as structural temples. At Badami there are four rock cut temples belonging to Saiva, Vaishnava and Jaina faiths. Incidentally this is an eloquent testimony to the religious tolerance of the kings and the people during the period. The fourth cave is the Jaina cave dedicated to Adinatha Tirthankara. He is seated on the lion pedestal, reclining slightly on the smooth cushion. There is a triple umbrella (mukkode) over his head in relief. There are two Chamaradharis attending on the Tirthankara. On the left wall is a standing sculpture of Suparsvanatha with a seven hooded snake over him. To his right is a Yakshi holding a Chatra; to the left is a Yaksha sitting. On the opposite wall is the sculpture of Bahubali intertwined with creepers. In the inner mandapa on both sides are found two sculptures of Mahavira. In addition there are sculptures of twenty eight Jinas. The whole cave is 31 ft. wide and the depth is 16 ft. The entire composition is very elegant.
Another Jaina cave is in Aihole. It has an open mandapa and a Sabhamandapa. In the garbhgriha is the sculpture of Mahavira in Padmasana. On the sides are yaksha and yakshi standing. In the open mandapa are found high relief sculptures of Parsvanatha and Bahubali. However, this cave is not as refined and elegant as that of Badami.

Now we may refer to the structural temples built by the Chalukayas of Badami. The following are noteworthy among them. They are - Meguti Jinalaya at Aihole; the jinalaya built by Kumkuma Mahadevi at Lakshmesvar; during the period of Kirtivarman II. Kaliyamma built a temple at Annigeri; the Jinalaya at Hallur; the Jinalaya built by Dharmagamunda at Adur in Hangal taluk. The Meguti Jinendralaya was built in 634 A. D. by Ravikirti The temple has a garbhagriha, antarala and a mukhamandapa perhaps a later addition. There is a narrow pradakshinapatha around the garbhagriha. In the garbhagriha attached to the wall is the sculpture of Mahavira. In the antarala was a fine sculpture of Yakshi Ambika sitting in ardha lalitasana. Over the garbhagriha is another garbhagriha which also has a sculpture of Tirthankara. The adhisthana has miniature decorations.

The Sankha Jinalaya at Lakshmesvar is dedicated to Neminatha. Sendraka Durgasakti, a feudatory of Pulakesi II is said to have given gifts to this temple.u It is possible that it may be earlier or atleast contemporary to the Meguti temple. Many other inscriptions show that this was an important Jaina temple during the period. an inscription of Vinayaditya dated 686 A.D. refers to a grant to Jaina acharya of Devagana and mulasangha.12 Another epigraph of the time of Vijayaditya dated 729 A. D. mentions a grant to Niravadya Pandita who was to house pupil of Sri PUjyapada.13 Still another inscription of the time of Vikramaditya II dated 734 A. D. mentions gifts to Sveta Jinalaya.14

The Jain temple at Hallur has garbhagriha, antarala, and rectanular Sabhamandap. The garbhagriha has an upper storey and is similar to Meguti temple. The Sabhamandapa is bigger than garbhagriha and antarala and has a seperate mukhamandapa which is in ruins. Thus it shows a more developed architectural feature. The outer walls of the Sabhamandapa has low relief sculptures of Jaina Tirthankaras. Thus the Chalukyas of Badami contributed in ample measure to the development of Jaina temple architecture and laid firm foundations for further development during the Rashtrakuta period.

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