Nov 18, 2007

Santaras kings of Karkala

By Ganesh Prabhu
From Hindu Feb 04, 2002

Karkala is a town of historical importance and a famous pilgrimcentre for Jains. There are 18 Jain basadis here. The Bahubali statueis the second tallest in the State. The other statues in the Stateare at Shravanabelagola installed by Chamundaraya, which is 57-foottall, at Venur installed by Timmaraja, which is 35-foot tall, and atDharmasthala installed by D. Veerendra Heggade, which is 39-foottall.

Karkala is a town of historical importance and a famous pilgrimcentre for Jains. There are 18 Jain basadis here. The Bahubali statueis the second tallest in the State. The other statues in the Stateare at Shravanabelagola installed by Chamundaraya, which is 57-foottall, at Venur installed by Timmaraja, which is 35-foot tall, and atDharmasthala installed by D. Veerendra Heggade, which is 39-foottall.

Karkala was under the Alupas, who later ceded it to the Santaras, whoruled as the vassals of the former. While the Alupas were Shaivaites,the Santaras were Jains. There was matrimonial alliance between thetwo. Later, the Santaras became independent. By the 12th Century, theSantara kingdom had extended to include parts of Malenadu such asMudigere, Balehonnur, Sringeri, Koppa, and some parts ofNarasimharajapur. The areas above the Western Ghats had Kalasa as theprovincial capital, while those below it first had Keravase as thecapital which was later shifted to Karkala. Hence, the members ofthis dynasty were called Kalasa-Karkala rulers.

Despite accepting the suzerainty of the Vijayanagar kings, theSantaras enjoyed a large measure of autonomy. The rulers of Karkalawere called Bhairarasas. King Veera Bhairarasa (1390-1420) was thefirst prominent king of the dynasty. He had Keravase as his maincapital. He built basadis at Barkur and Hiriyangady. He was succeededby his son, Veera Pandya, who was a scholar known for his generousdisposition. He maintained good relations with the Sringeri Math. Thebiggest achievement of his reign was the installation of themonolithic statue of Lord Bahubali at Karkala on February 13, 1432,on the instructions of the pontiff of Karkala, Lalitakeerti. On thecompletion of this feat, he got the title "Abhinava Chamundaraya.''He also installed the "Brahma Stambha'' in front of the Bahubalistatue on February 29, 1436.

He was succeeded by his nephew, Veera Pandya IV, who ruled from 1455-1475. He constructed the 57-foot "Manastambha'' in front of theNeminatha Basadi at Hiriyangady. On completion, he got thetitle "Abhinava Pandya.'' King Pandya VI, who signed a defence treatywith the Chowtas, built a basadi at Anekere. The next important kingwas Immadi Bhairava, who was instrumental in the construction of theChaturmukha Basadi at Karkala and a "Sadhana Chaityalaya'' at Koppa.This dynasty is said to have come to an end in 1763 during the reignof Hyder Ali.

The Mahamastakabhisheka (anointing) ceremony this year would beconducted under the guidance of Swastisri Lalitakeerti BhattarakaPattacharyavarya Swamiji of Karkala Jain Math. During theMahamastakabhisheka, tender coconut water, sugarcane juice,sandalwood paste, paste made out of medicinal herbs, and holy waterare poured on the statue. It is believed that water cleanses thestatue, while sandalwood helps in propagation of virtues of Bahubali, sugarcane juice removes hunger, milk is seen as a symbol of purity,and the paste of medicinal herbs signifies beauty. TheMahamastkabhisheka Committee is making preparations for the grandevent, which is normally held once in 12 years. The only time thatthere was a long gap was between 1962 and 1990, due to the problemsarising out of the passage of the Land Reforms Act. TheArchaeological Survey of India (ASI) has completed the cleaning up ofthe Bahubali statue and the Manastambha at Hiriyangady.

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