Syed Abubaker Maliki,Post Box 288, Dubai U.A.E
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
Choleshwara. Other temples in the area are as follows:
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.
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.
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