Nov 22, 2007

Santaras kings of Karkala

By Ganesh Prabhu

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

Karkala was under the Alupas, who later ceded it to the Santaras, who ruled as the vassals of the former. While the Alupas were Shaivaites, the Santaras were Jains. There was matrimonial alliance between the two. Later, the Santaras became independent. By the 12th Century, theSantara kingdom had extended to include parts of Malenadu such as Mudigere, Balehonnur, Sringeri, Koppa, and some parts of Narasimharajapur. The areas above the Western Ghats had Kalasa as the provincial capital, while those below it first had Keravase as the capital which was later shifted to Karkala. Hence, the members of this 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 the first prominent king of the dynasty. He had Keravase as his main capital. He built basadis at Barkur and Hiriyangady. He was succeededby his son, Veera Pandya, who was a scholar known for his generous disposition. He maintained good relations with the Sringeri Math. The biggest achievement of his reign was the installation of the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali at Karkala on February 13, 1432,on the instructions of the pontiff of Karkala, Lalitakeerti. On the completion of this feat, he got the title "Abhinava Chamundaraya.'' He also installed the "Brahma Stambha'' in front of the Bahubali statue 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 the title "Abhinava Pandya.'' King Pandya VI, who signed a defence treatywith the Chowtas, built a basadi at Anekere. The next important king was 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.

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