MUDABIDRI (mUDabidare)

            Mudabidri (ಮೂಡಬಿದ್ರಿ) is a small town in the kArkaLa talluk of Udupi district. It is situated at a distance of about 35 kilometers from Mangalore city. Historically, it was known as Bidare. This is proved by literary texts as well as inscriptions. ‘bidaru’ in Kannada means the bamboo tree. Consequently the town has variant names such as Vamshapura and VENupura. (vamsha=vENu=bamboo) Mudabidri was an established centre of Jainism much earlier than the sixteenth century. It was the capital city of the Chauta (cVTa) kings during the seventeenth century. History has it, that Mudabidri was a well known city and gradually it was marginalized and was covered in a bamboo grove. A Jaina ascetic from Shravanabelagola was instrumental in reinventing the town. An idol of Sri Parshvanatha Swami was unearthed by him and it was installed in a Basadi built for that specific purpose. That basadi has survived even to this day and it is called ‘guru basadi’ or ‘haLE basadi’.  Gradually MUDabidri came to be known as ‘Jaina KAshi’.  Legend has it, that the town contained eighteen basadis, eighteen temples, eighteen ponds and eighteen streets. Many of them are extant even now.

            Mudabidri is known for the thousand pillared Chandranatha Basadi, Guru Basadi famous for its manuscript library and the Jaina mutt. All of them deserve a brief introduction.

            Chandranatha Basadi is also known as ‘Tribhuvanatilaka ChuDaamaNi ChaityAlaya’. It was built in 1431 A.D. according to a stone inscription found there. This was built by the Jaina devotees under the leadership of Devaraja Wodeyar of Nagamangala. It is one of the important architectural marvels of South India. It is built in black granite. The sanctum sanctorum and the three manTaps in front of it are enclosed by a compound. The Basadi has a series of three sloping, tiered roofs, adapted to the heavy monsoon rainfall of the region. The upper most tiers are covered by copper sheets. The 16 meter tall pillar in front of the temple known as ‘mAnastamBa’ and the star shaped manTap are special attractions of this place. The idol of Chandranatha is more than two meters tall and it is made of five different metals. (Pancha Loha) 

            The innumerable pillars that have given the temple its name are unique. They have intricate carvings of mythological personalities, natural objects such as fruits, flowers, creepers and animals. The figures of a dragon and Giraffe are particularly noteworthy as they hint at transoceanic contacts. The temple has a collection of metal icons of the sacred Teerthankaras encrusted with diamond jewels.

            Lord Parshwanatha the 23rd Thirthankara is the presiding deity of Guru Basadi. “A beautiful stone idol of Parshwanatha, about 3.5 meters tall, is installed in the sanctum of this basadi. The famous Jain canonical texts, known as 'Dhavala texts' and also a number of other palm leaf manuscripts of immense literary value are in the possession of the Jain monastery at Mudabidri. During Mughal assaults, the old Jain texts were shifted from Shravanabelagola to the safer Moodbidri. Rediscovered in the 1800s, these Moodbidri Manuscripts — Prakrit texts copied in old haLe-Kannada script, with pinpricks on palm leaves — are revered as the oldest (scribed circa 1,060 A.D.) written materials of a tradition going back to Arihant. The collection of 3 ancient manuscripts, Dhavala, Jayadhavala and Mahadhavala, collectively called the "Siddhanta" in Digambara tradition is very valuable. For many centuries, the only copy of the Siddhanta was this collection.” 

            There are many other Basadis in Moodabidri such as Ammanvara Basadi. Leppada Basadi, kere basadi, kallu basadi, shettara basadi etc. Almost all of them are situated in and around the Basadi road. The palace of the Chauta kings is an interesting place for its wood carvings and pillars. ‘pancha nAarI turanga’ and ‘navanaArI kunjara’ are stone carvings consisting of a horse and an elephant constructed by inter woven figures of five and nine women respectively.

 Ratnakaravarni the famous Kannada poet who has written the sangatya epic ‘Bharatesha Vaibhava’, was a native of Mudabidri.

            Thus, Mudabidri is an important place not only for Jainas but any person with a genuine interest in the multifaceted culture of Karnataka.

 

 

Further Reading and Links:

1.      http://www.indiavideo.org/karnataka/travel/jain-temples-karnataka-1575.php

2.      Saavira Kambada Basadi



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