Kamal Basadi of Belgaum

Belgaum is home to many ancient Jain temples. Of them all, KamalBasadi, is definitely worth a visit, writes Naushad Bijapur.

Known as the Sugar Bowl of Karnataka, Belgaum city has an enviableheritage and presents much to be discovered. It lies in the zone ofcultural transition between Kamataka, Maharashtra and Goa with aknown antiquity clearly traceable up to second century AD.This fast developing district headquarters is a picture of contrasts.While on one side is the old town area where cotton and silk weaversstill create the famous sarees, on the other side is the modern,bustling, tree-lined cantonment built by the British. Over severaldecades, monuments of historical importance at the Belgaum cantonmenthave been attracting tourists in large numbers. The Belgaum forttakes center stage, and at the Fort entrance are two shrines, onededicated to Lord Ganapathi, and the other to Goddess Durga.KAMAL BASADI: Within the walls of the fort is Kamal Basadi, ahistoric, Chalukya style Jain temple. A fabulous Neminatha idol inblack stone, found in this temple, is one of the greatest creationsof history. The masterpiece of this temple is the "Mukhamantapa" witha well executed lotus on its ceiling.

For long, Belgaum has been a famous centre for Jains and is home tomany ancient Jain temples. The trend of constructing Jain temples inthis region started during the period of Chalukyas of Kalyana whowere the Chief power in the Deccan from the 10th to 12th century.Innovative builders, their influence continued to inspire the otherdynasties like the Hoysalas, Gangas, Kadambas and Rattas too,resulting in many Jain temples in and around Belgaum.Presently under the jurisdiction of the Archeological Department,Kamal Basdi is so called because of the dome (Gumbaj) of the templewhich is constructed in the form of a lotus made out of 72 petals.The past, present and future 24 Tirthankars of each period are shownon the 72 petals of the lotus flower.

The stone carved Sinhasan of Bhagwan Neminath is very artistic. Thepillars of the temple are decorated with carvings and are brightlypolished. As per historical findings, the idol of Bhagwan Neminathawas found in the forest about 200 years ago. The history of idols andother statues of this temple can be traced back to 11th century AD.Attractive idols of Bhagwan Sumatinath in the kayotsarga posture,idol of Bhagwan Parshwanatha under the shade of seven-hooded Nagaraj,idol of Bhagwan Adinath in the padmasana posture and the idol ofNavagraha can also be seen in this temple.

Raju Doddannavar, a member of the noted Doddannavar family ofBelgaum, which is taking care of Kamal Basadi for almost 100 yearsnow, says, "The prayers at this temple have hardly stopped ever sinceit was built centuries ago. Though the British stopped the pooja atthe temple in the 1940s, my great grandfather Basappa Doddannavar andmy grandfather Ramachandra Doddannavar, used to squeeze into thetemple from one corner to offer prayers.''

He said his was the fourth generation to take care of the temple. TheArchaeological Department took up the total renovation of this templein 1996 and did it without disturbing its original plans and shape.The temple has gained prominence in the recent years owing to thevisit of noted Jain munis. Tarun Sagar Maharaj, a noted Jain saint,often visits the fort locality and gives discourses. The templemanagement has also started constructing a Muni Nivas at the premisesof Kamal Basadi to house Jain swamis.


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