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Syed Abubaker Maliki,Post Box 288, Dubai U.A.E

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TEMPLES IN BHATKAL

  The Hindu philosophy accommodates diverse interpretations of its  ancient scriptures. It stands for a process of evolution extending from the  worship of arthromorphic God, to the realisation of self as God. A Hindu  temple symbolises this process. The styles of temple have reflected their  basic purpose and the different views of the civilisation in which they  occur. Bhatkal town is not only famous for elegant mosques, but also for the  temples that dot the town. The old structures have withstood the ravages  of time to tell the tales of the past splendour. And there are new ones  built by the new generation people. While the majority of the ancient  temples are situated in Mudbhatkal, lying to the east of the town, the new  ones and a few older structures are in the town. The temples dotting  Mudbhatkal include Khetapayya Narayana, Joshi Shankarnarayana and  Choleshwara. Other temples in the area are as follows:
Santappa Nayaka Tirumala temple was constructed by Santappa  Nayaka, who is believed to have been the brother-in-law of Khet Pai. In  this temple, God Venkataramana is worshipped. Built in 1555, profusely  sculptured motifs adorn the walls.
The Virupaksha Narayan temple is a small structure built in 1565 by  Jeevana Nayaka. The Narasimha temple is another fine structure in  Mudbhatkal. A hero stone is found on its left corner.  Nothing is visible on it. A merchant by name Narasa Kini built the temple  in 1538. The ceiling is adorned with fine images of Brahma and its  Navaranga has pillars with lathe-turned top.  Lakkarasa Kamthi Lakshmi Narayana is a small monument in the green  field. The temple is assigned to 1550 AD.  The Raghunath temple in the area is assigned to 1590 AD and was built  by Bala Kini  Bhatkal town proper, too, has a score of temples including a few older  ones. The cynosure of all is the Maruthi temple at car Street. During its  construction period, which we couldn't trace out, eight guardian angels  called `Astadik- palakaru' were installed in its eight directions with a belief  that these will guard the temple from unforeseen evils. The Maruthi is the  gramadevata of Bhatkal. During March-April, a car festival of this temple  is held.  The Shri Marikamba temple, renovated in 1980, situated on the busy  main road (Marikatta)  The Nichchalamakki Sri Venkatar -amana temple at Asarkeri is another  famous temple here which has about 200 years history. His Holiness Sri  Ramanujacharaya and Sri Madhavacharya installed Sri venkata- raman  idol, which was brought from Tirupathi. The Sunkadakatte Sri Ganapati  temple recently renovated has an interesting history.Sunkada Katte in  Kannada means check post (for collecting octroi). And it is believed that  its employees had installed Ganapati idol for their daily worship and  subsequently it became a temple. The Soddigadde Shri Mahasati temple  has disciples mostly from Moger and Namadhari communities. It is said  that previously there were five `peethas'. In the year 1973 the new idol of  Mahasatiwas installed. There is no permanent priest for the rituals. And  any man is free to enter and worship according to his own customs. The  car festival takes place in the month of January.  The Sri Siddhi Vinayaka temple at Ranginkatte is 70 years old. The main  speciality of this Ganapathi idol is that its trunk is turned right, and not left  as usually seen. In the year 1921 Ved Shri Kabre Timmanna Bhat of  Kabre village installed this idol made of white marble and build this  temple. This temple is managed by Havyaka Brahmins.  Other temples include the Shanteri Kamakshi, the Parashurama  Damodhara, the Gopalkrishna, Dattareya, the Vader math, Durgaparameshwari, Kashi math, Nadagara, Shri Ram, Padmavathi and  Shivalaya. The Amar Lingeshwar Temple at Bunder has a long history  but we will not go into it. The temple was renovated in 1987. His  Holiness Sri Vishweshwar Teertha Swamiji of Shringeri Math installed  the Ishwar Linga. The temple is at the bottom of the hillock near the sea.  Mr. Vasudev Bhat belonging to Havyaka Brahmin community is its  priest. Other temples at bunder are: Hanumanth, Mahalingeshwar, Durgaparameshwari and Kutshmeshwar.  Murdeshwar Additional places of interest  

REMINISCENCES OF A BYGONE SPLENDOUR

Jain  who ruled Bhatkal during the fourteenth century have left behind vestiges of their once famous bastion. 1336 A.D. marked the glorious beginning of the Vijayanagar empire and Bhatkal became its major centre in the southern taluks of Uttara Kannada district. Most of the bastis and temples at Bhatkal were built during the regions of Vijayanagar and Jain rulers. These imposing ancient monuments whisper gently the glories of town that had seen far better days and flourished in the distant past. The ancient monuments, magically revive past splendour and bring alive the ancient town before our mind's eyes. Given below are the pen-sketches of such beautiful ancient struc -tures which reminisce our rich and colourful heritage.  There Are Four Beautiful Temples... Parshawantha Temple...Kethapayya Narayana Temple ... Joshi Shankar Narayana Temple... Choleshwara Temple        This is locally famous by the name `Moni Basti'.    The Parshwanatha basti ranks among the ancient structures built in 15 century in Bhatkal. Situated as it is on the Bazaar Main Road in the heart of the town, this place of worship has been a silent witness to the rise and fall of empires as also to the sweeping changes that This is locally famous by the name `Moni Basti'. The Parshwanatha basti ranks among the ancient structures built in 15 century in Bhatkal. Situated as it is on the Bazaar Main Road in the heart of the town, this place of worship has been a silent witness to the rise and fall of empires as also to the sweeping changes that have overwhelmed this region. The basti testifies to the artistic excellence of the architects and engineers of those far-off days.A tall monolithic Manasthamba greets the visitor from a distance. The small shrine atop this pillar contains fascinating images, carved in marble. The Navaranga is supported by the typical granite Vijayanagar pillars of square and octagonal shapes.   Yet another wide-spread belief is that it was a Jain Queen, Mohini who built this. But there is no conclusive evidence to substantiate this.

Kethapayya Narayan Temple

The Kethapayya Narayan temple is the most outstandingly beautiful architectural structure found in Bhatkal. Located at Mudbhatkal the beauty and sharpness of the art carved on the temple walls makes the pilgrims spellbound. The Navaranga supported by four pillars represents the Vijayanagara style of architecture. Idols of `Ashta Dikpalakas' guard the eight directions. At the door step of the temple pictures of episodes extracted from Ramayana, Putra Kamesti, Vanavas, Rama pattabhisheka, etc., make one dream of those ages. There is a huge monolithic swajastambha (flag pillar) in front on which are engraved on one side facing the deity a rich couple, presumably of Kheta Pai and his wife. It is said that Khetha Pai, a noted jeweller who came from  Goa. There is a belief that Rani Chennadevi donated liberally for the construction of this temple.                                       

Joshi Shankara Narayan Temple Located in the vicinity of the Kethapayya Narayan Temple, Joshi Shankarnarayana Temple is supposed to have been built around 1554 A.D. The very name of this temple indicates that there is no difference between Hari and Hara. This bears witness to the fact that devotees can worship their god at one place and offer salutation to one Idol, which resembles both Hari and Hara. And the prefix in its name indicate the name of the builder. In the temple only adyturn (garbhgudi) is there. It has a separate front structure of flat roof. The building which is small and square shaped is beautiful beyond belief. There is no Idol of Shankara Narayana. Only Kaivalya idol remains. This attractive idol is two and a half feet in height, with four hands on the left hand side. The face on this side is of Vishnu, the right hand side face is of Shanker and the two hands are holding Trishul and Japasara (garland of beeds). On either side of the seat Nandi and Garuda Lanchana can be seen .    

Choleshwar Temple This temple is believed to be the oldest temple of Bhatkal. The Cholas invaded upto Bhatkal during 10th century. In memory of this conquest the Chola King built the Choleshwar temple. Originally built of laterite, and now renovated using granite, it looks like a metal boiler placed upside down. There is no separate sanctum sanctorum for the idol. It is completely dark inside. The temple has a beautiful balipitha and also a monolithic pillar with a small Nandimantapa atop. A curvilinear Shikhara has been added to the garbhagriha in the recent past, which houses a linga. The altar in the precincts is enchantingly beautiful. The scripts on the walls are in Tamil and speak of one Modaliyan, which is not of Chola times, Choleshwar temple remains intact proclaiming the greatness of India's history and culture.

THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY OF BHATKAL  The Christians of Bhatkal and its environs, namely, Mundalli, Purvarga and Karikal, would number about a thousand. Add to this a hundred or more of the students at the Anjuman Engineering College hailing from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The students belong to a variety of Christian denominations, but the local Christians are all of the Roman Catholic fold and speak one language, Konkani. For congregational worship they gather at four centres: at the central church in Mundalli at the sub-churchin Purvarga, at the Anand Ashram Convent chapel, and at a small prayer hall in the new settlement at Karikal which is 4 kms, west of the bus station. Anand Ashram Convent School in Bhatkal needs no introduction today. But the origin of a school that caters to nearly 100 students is not so well known to all. The school began as a little teaching centre near the old bus stand. Two sisters came daily from Ternamakki and taught the rudiments to children and some older persons from 1972 until Sisters became resident there with the minimum of space for two or three classes. It was not until some years later that the sisters shifted the school to its present location. Sr. Barbara was the head mistress at that time. They started in 1973 in a rented building near the old bus stand. Sr. Syra, the present head-mistress of the school, was one of the four pioneers. Ever since their coming to Bhatkal the Christian community has enjoyed the benefit of their services in more ways than one. The school itself serves the educational needs of the general public.  Education on all fronts is a crying need of Bhatkal Christians. However as in the rest of the Indian little towns and villages great value is not attached to formal education in this place. Not all teaching institutions are of high the community with the most limited opportunities in life. Most local Christian men have worked as stone masons and tailors within Bhatkal town. If a handful went to some mega cities within India, or once in a while to a gulf country, it was mostly as tailors or masons and labourers.In that capacity, then the Christian have rendered continued service to the richer section of the people of these parts. The trend is changing at snail-pace as a few more persons each year open their eyes to the importance of formal education and send their children. One wonders at times whether Christians of Bhatkal and Honnavar taluk were brought down from Goa as a work-force. Available evidence suggests that the rulers of the Bednur Kingdom did invite Christians from Goa, experienced farmers and artisans that they were, to come and develop farms and take other opportunities for work in the Kingdom. Although no more than half a dozen families live by cultivation today, it is acceptable that the dominant community of Bhatkal did at one time look up to them for farming. At any rate, the fact of Bednur rulers inviting them shows that Bhatkal Christians are not local converts but immigrants from Goa. There appear to have been two waves of exodus from Goa, each for a different reason, one in the 16th century, the second in the 18th. The present leadership, however is quietly working for the transformation not merely of Christians, but of all religionists. They hope to set up a centre in town for this purpose.

Syed Abubaker Maliki Comments & Suggestions bhatkal@hotmail.com        

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Our sincere thanks to Mr. Aftab Kola , Editor Bhatkal Times for the above article