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Jain Narayana temple at Pattadakal
Parshwanatha at Kasamalgi, 5 km from Kamala Narayana Temple, Degaon ( Degamve / Devgram ) and 10 km from Kittur
Kamal Basadi Jain temple Belagavi
Jain temple at Lakkundi, near Gadag,North Karnataka, India

Jainism in North Karnataka[1] flourished under the Chalukyas, Kadamba and Rashtrakutas, and Vijayanagara empire. Imbued with an intense religious feeling, lavish patronage was extended towards the building of basadis, temples and magnificent statues. Jainism enjoyed the highest repute among the people particularly the ruling classes and the mercantile community thus virtually becoming the state religion.

The earliest dated structure is a basadi at Halasi built under the Kadamba dynasty of Banavasi thus laying the foundation for Jain architecture in North Karnataka. Besides the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas made liberal endowments towards the propagation of art and architecture to which the Jain contributions have been of classical significance.

The Chalukyas of Badami built cave temples at Badami and Aihole. Puligere was a strong centre of religious activities of the Jain monks during this era.

Imbued with an intense religious feeling, lavish patronage was extended towards the building of basadis, temples and magnificent statues.

Many Jain basadis erected by them are proof of their secular spirit in encouraging this religion.

Jain architecture can be classified into two categories namely basadis and bettas. Basadi is a Jain monastery or temple where an image of one of the twenty-four tirthankaras (saints) is installed and worshipped. They were built in the Dravidian style and the oldest basadi can be traced back to the 8th century AD. Betta is a hill with an open courtyard containing the image of Gommata or Gommateswara. Lakkundi and Humcha or Humbaj have, over the centuries, been some of the important centres of Jains, in South India.

North Karnataka contributed richly to the development of Jaina architecture in Karnataka. After the seventeenth century, the construction of Jaina temples did not become artistic creations but served the religion. Thus the long tradition of Jaina monuments which perhaps started by the early centuries of the Christian era ended by the eighteenth century A.D. in North Karnataka.

Contribution to Kannada literature

The literary zeal of the Jains continued well into the age of the Rashtrakutas, covering not only religion but also embracing many secular branches of learning including mathematics and astronomy. Giant literary figures like Pampa, Ponna and Ranna, thrived under the enlightened rule of the kings of this dynasty.


Literary figures of the Jains

Pampa Pamapa’s works included Vikramarjuna Vijaya also known as Pampa Bharata, giving a Jaina version of the Mahabharata Adipurana, narrating the story of Rishabadeva, the first tirthankara.

Ranna was the author of Sahasra-Bhima-Vijaya, describing the fight between Bhima and Duryodhana. Neminatha Purana, a history of the 22nd tirthankara, interprets the story of Krishna and the Pandavas the Jaina way. Under the patronage of Amoghavarsha I, Ganithasarasangraha was a work on mathematics by Mahaveera.

Jaina monuments in North Karnataka

Jaina monuments in North Karnataka[2][3][4]

Jainism exerted considerable influence over the cultural life of Karnataka during the rule of the Rashtrakutas several basadis were erected for the further propagation of the religion in the State. Important among them is the Parsvanatha Basadi at Ron with its exquisitely carved grills depicting gandharvas in scroll work.


Kadambas of Banavasi who were known to be patrons of Jainism as evidenced by their inscriptions.

The earliest references to a grant by a Kadamba king to a Jaina saint is found in the Halasi copper plate of kakusthavarman. The Jaina temple at Halasi belongs to a period later 11th century A.D.

Badami Chalukyas

After the rule of the Kadambas of Banavasi most parts of north Karnataka came under the rule of the early Chalukya or Badami Chalukyas.

The Jaina architectural beginnings made earlier by the Kadambas of Banavasi, crystallised into better structures in stone during the early Chalukyas (Badami Chalukyas) period. Badami Chalukyas used stone as the medium of their architecture.

Badami Chalukyas known for their rock cut temples as well as structural temples, The 4th cave is the Jaina cave dedicated to Adinatha Tirthankara.

Aihole has Jaina cave temple, it has an open mandapa and a Sabhamandapa. Garbhgriha has the sculpture of Mahavira in Padmasana. On the sides are yaksha and yakshi standing. Open mandapa has high relief sculptures of Parsvanatha and Bahubali.

Other Jain temples are Meguti Jinalaya at Aihole, Sankha Jinalaya at Lakshmeshwar is dedicated to Neminatha(built by Kumkuma Mahadevi), Kali temple built a temple at Annigeri(during the period of Kirtivarman II), Jinalaya at Hallur, The Jinalaya at Adur(built by Dharmagamunda) in Hangal taluk.


Rastrakutas period as the golden age of Jainsim in Karnataka. Amoghavarsha I used to consider himself purified by the very remembrance of his guru Jinasenacharya. He had appointed the famous Jaina saint Gunabhadra as the teacher for his son Krishna. Krishna gave liberal donations to the Jaina temple at Mulgund.

Many of the Rashtrakuta feudatories like Rattas of Saundatti were staunch supporters of Jainism, an estimate of at least one third of the total population of the Deccan during the period were Jains.

The Jaina monuments of the Rashtrakutas period are found at Pattadakal, Malkhed, Lakshmeshwar, Koppal, Bankura, of North Karnataka

The jaina temple at Pattadakal, it is believed that this temple was built either during the time of Amoghavarsha I (814-874 A.D.) or Krishna I (c. 770 A.D.).

The Neminatha basadi at Malkhed, the capital of the Rashtrakutas belongs to ninth century A. D. Unfortunately the original structure has been repaired often and hence it is difficult to know its original features. Other sculptures found here are those of Parsvanatha, Dharanendra and Padmavati.

Jaina temple at Naregal(Narayana temple) is the biggest Rashtrakuta temple in Karnataka, in Ron taluk of Gadag District was built during the period of Krishna III, by Padmabbarasi, the queen of Ganga Permadi Bhutayya in 950 A.D. It has a sikhara of Dravida vimana type over the garbhagriha.

Jaina basadi at Konnur in Dharwad District was built during the period of Amoghavarsha I, by Bankesa in 860 A.D, The unique feature of this temple is the star shaped gabhagriha, which later became a unique feature of the Hoysala temples

Settavva temple at Aihole is another storeyed basadi. It is more elaborate in execution. It is also a trikuta. Besides it has three ardhamandapas and a common navaranga.

Basadi at Bankur in Gulbarga District seems to belong to the end of the Rashrakuta period. There are many fine sculptures in this temple. Notable among them are Adinatha, Chandraprabha, Santinatha, Parsvanatha, Mahavira, Padmavati, high relief sculptures of twenty-four tirthankaras.

Kalyani Chalukyas

Most parts of North Karnataka came under the rule of Kalyani Chalukyas With the decline of the Rashtrakutas, they built Jaina temples, granted gifts to Jaina establishments and individual saints. The development of Kalamukhas on the one side and the Virasaivism of Basavanna on the other were making great progress in North Karnataka and naturally this did not give enough scope for Jainism to blossom as it did in the earlier Rashtrakuta period.

Attimabbe, known as danachintamani is a well known personality of this period. She is said to have made one 1000 copies of Ponna's Santi purana and distributed as Sastradana. Attimabbe built a Jaina temple at Lakkundi to which the king provided a golden Kalasa. Somesvara's minister Santinatha persuaded Lakhma to build the Mallikamoda Santinatha basadi at Baligrama.

The Chalukyas of Kalyana were great temple builders all over Karnataka and they brought out new development in various components of temple.

Chalukyas at Lakkundi and other places. The most important Jaina temples of this period are

  • Brahma Jinalaya at Lakkundi,The Brahma Jinalaya built by Attimabbe represents a second phase of Chalukyan art for it not only represents a

progress in architectural work but also uses finer grained schist instead of the usual granite.

  • The Charantimatha group at Aihole was built before 1119 A.D. on which date king Vikarmaditya VI

through his subordinate Kesavayya Setti made arrangements for certain repairs, additions and endowments. The main temple of this group is dedicated to Mahavira.

  • Sankha Jinalya at Lakshmeshwar. Of the two Jaina temples at Lakshmeshwara the more famous is Sankha Jinalaya which consists of a garbhagriha, a large ardhamandapa, larger mahamandapa and a rangamandapa. The other Jaina temple in this place is a trikuta dedicated to Adinatha.

Other Jaina temples of the Kalyani Chalukyas period include

  • Parsvanatha basadi at Udri, Bandalike,
  • Parsvanatha basadi at Koppal,
  • Ruined basadi (Chikka basadi) within the fort at Belgaum,

Vijayanagara empire

Important monument of the period in this district is the Chaturmukha basadi located at Gerusoppa. Though its builder is not known definitely, it is generally belieyed that queen Chennabhairadevi was responsible for the construction of this basadi. The other temples in Gerusoppe are Neminatha basadi, Vardhamana basadi and two Parsvanatha basadis.

The Chandranatha temple at Bhatkal is another structure of this period. Actually it is known as Jettappa Nayakana Chandranathesvara basadi. It consists of two blocks of buildings joined together by intervening porch in east and west. The western portion has two storeys. The interior is plain. The eastern portion serves as a porch to the temple. The garbhagriha has the sculptures of Rishabhanatha, Chandranatha and Mallinatha.

The Ratnatraya basadi at Bilgi is almost similar to the basadi at Bhatkal. But it is nirandhara. The three garbhagrihas have Neminatha, Parsvanatha and Mahavira.

The sculpture of Chandranatha is very elegant and show the Vijayanagara workmanship.

In the Vijayanagara period the construction of Chaturmukha basadis gained popularity.

Jain Temples

  • Jain Cave temple Badami

Badami Chalukyas encouraged Jainism. At Badami there is One Jain cave temples.

Jain Cave temple No. 4 at Badami, 6th century
inscription at Meguti temple Aihole in Sanskrit language and old Kannada script

Meguti Jain temple with dravidian style of architecture on a raised platform on a hillock and steps leads to the large mukhamantapa. We can have a panoramic view of the temples of Aihole from here.

There is inscription which records the construction of the temple during Pulakeshi II by a scholar Ravikeerthi. and the Aihole inscription (dated 634 CE), Poetry on stone at Meguti temple Aihole in Sanskrit language and old Kannada script.

Also visit


  1. ^ "The Jain Legacy In Karnataka". Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  2. ^ "JAINA MONUMENTS IN NORTH KARNATAKA". Dr. A. V. Narasimha Murthy. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  3. ^ "JAIN HERITAGE CENTRES - NEW ADDITIONS". Dr. A. V. Narasimha Murthy. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  4. ^ "Jainism Potpourri: A Survey of Jain Monuments of Karnataka". Dr. A. V. Narasimha Murthy. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 


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