Saavira kambada basadi

Another gem this one, from my hometown. Another place that I wish I had visited when growing up in Mangalore. This Basadi (in South India, Jain temples are called basadis) is in a small town called Moodabidri which is about 45 minutes away from Mangalore. I visited there recently on a trip to Mangalore, when the COVID-19 fury had calmed down a bit (only to rise again and keep us all indoors since). Unluckily for us, there was no guide and no means to get into the depths of the temple’s history. But I do know that this was a Jain belt, and as proof, many basadis dot the area even today and is also home to a massive monolithic statue of Bahubali in Karkala which I have visited with my cousins when we were kids (I had an aunt living in Karkala). The Jains in the region still worship at these basadis.

The name – saavira kambada basadi – means 1000 pillar temple. There didn’t seem to be a 1000 pillars….so the name itself is a mystery… On entering the temple premises through a large door, we are greeted by a ‘manasthambha’, a tall slender column with the image of the tirthankara carved on its four sides.

The basadi is a three storeyed structure. The pillars and the main lower level is made of granite. The upper level is made of wood and built in the traditional temple architecture found in the area and surrounds.

The manasthambha
The basadi

The basadi is dedicated to the 8th Jain tirthankara, Chandraprabha.

The main deity, the tirthankara Chandraprabha

Ever since my trips to Belur, Halebid and Somanathpur, I tend to look at the ceiling, base platform and pillars for architectural splendour when visiting a temple or a basadi. While it is easy to have these expectations for every temple, what one must realise is that sculpting is very dependent on the hardness of stone used and skill available at that point in time.
Except for the central ceiling of the mantapa (open hall) this basadi has simple ceiling patterns.

The ceiling in the mantapa

The base is simple too, with floral patterns and human figures.

Base of the temple structure

Long corridors surround the outer walls of the basadi. Two parallel rows of pillars support the upper levels of the basadi.

The ceiling of the main mantapa is supported on pillars, most of them with smooth finishes devoid of any embellishments, whereas a few are exquisitely carved like the one below. All the pillars have square bases and capitals. The carvings are mostly floral motifs, mythical animals, geometric patterns, and some even have the tirthankaras carved on them.

An exquisitely carved pillar

The square bases of these pillars have delicately carved patterns.

The upper levels have many bracket figures.

Bracket figures
Another view of the temple
A small shrine for the snake gods

A 30km drive from Mangalore on winding hilly road takes you to Moodbidri in about 45 minutes. A further 30 minutes will take you to Karkala where you can visit the monolithic statue of Bahubali. While the one in Shravanabelagola takes the credit for being the tallest monolithic statue in Asia, the one in Karkala is just as beautiful and deserves a visit. For more pics, click.

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