Jainism had deep rooted in Karnataka culture and tradition since prior centuries to Jesus era. According to some scholars Jainism was introduced to southern India after visit of Achrya Bhadrabhu along with his vast ascetic’s samgha, but some scholars are not agreed to those on this point because how an Acharya with his 12000 disciples could move to a non Jain part of India. Moreover, Neminatha 22nd savior visited to Pallava country when Dwarika had its disaster in the form of burning according to Jaina canons.
Buddhists canons like Mahavamsa also admit that Jainism was prevalent in southern India and Ceylon prior to Jesus era. Therefore, the fact of Jainism prevalence in southern India prior to Jesus era is corroborated by this allusion.
Karnataka state has been governed by many imperial dynasties like Early Ganga,Chalukya of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Later Ganga,Western Chalukyan, Yadavs , Haihayas and Hoyasala but Jainism had been followed and patronized by these dynasties.
Gulbarga which was anciently known as Kalbargi enriched from Jain art and architecture during early medieval period. The main contribution in Jain art and architecture of Gulbarga district by Western Chalukyas sovereigns and Haihaya monarchs reigned to Gulbarga during early medieval period.
Let us know about an ancient Jain temple of Allur anciently known as Araluru which is situated near Chittapur in Gulbarga district of Karnataka State. The place has been in stories of newspapers and social media due to blast off of 1000 year ancient Rishabhnath sculpture by treasure hunters on 27th July 2012.
Allur :- Allur (B) is situated about 20 kilometers in south direction from Chittapur town. It is about 34 minutes journey from Chittapur to Allur B on narrow but asphalt paved road constructed under “Pradhanmantri Gram Sadak Yojna”.
Ancient Jain temple of Allur :- An ancient Jain temple which is concerned to Digmaber school is situated at the end of Allur B village on a hilly slope. On micro observation of the temple it can be concluded that the temple hailed from 11th century and concerned to early medieval period of Karnataka. The temple is in dilapidated condition and a single iron bar gate preserves the inner temple otherwise outer architecture of shrine is not preserved by any boundary. The shrine’s entrance is replete with bushes and scattered stones of dilapidated structure.
The shrine is built in chalukyan Architecture which is obviously found in this region and pantheon has Mukha madapa, Antarala or Ardh mandapa and Garbh griha or inner shrine. It would seem that Chalukya style temple were less concentrated from Shikhara point of view. It is generally absent in many other shrines of this region but it would not make the architecture inferior than other style.
Main doorway leads us to a Mukha mandapa which consists of pillared structure and beautiful carvings on that pillars welcome us which are adherent to walls of this mandapa. A stone slab with Jina icon and ancient inscription is laid along the left wall of madapa. A beautifully carved Yakshini sculpture posed in tribhanga posture is laid nearby.
Lord Rishabhnath’s ancient sculpture is laid in mutilated condition which is in two parts. Lord Jina sculpture was blast off by treasure hunter on 26th July 2012 after implanting explosives in hole created at the chest of the image. The incident was result of incautiousness and neutrality of Jain community towards ancient heritage. The Jain shrine of Allur is not guarded even today from such culprits and it represents our irresponsibility towards our ancient heritage.
The doorway in Mukhamandapa leads us to Ardhamandapa which consists of chalukyan pillared structure along with some beautiful ancient sculptures of Jina Parshwanatha. The doorway of Mukhamandaps consists of iconic delineation of Lions which affirm the architecture to be concerned with Jaina.
Parshwanatha with Kamatha episode:-The Ardhmandapa has two Jina sculptures viz Kayotsarga Parshwanatha and Padmasana Parshwanatha. The Kayotsarga image of Lord Parshwanatha is carved beautifully and has characteristics of Chalukya art. The image has about 3 feet height and Jina Parshwa is performing penance with austerity in Kayotsarga posture but has serenity and tranquility on face. The image consists of spread seven serpent hoods over Jina’s head which protects the Jina from Upsarga commemorates the Upasarga episode of Jina’s life. Each serpent hood is ornamented with jewels on top of hood. Yakshini Padmawati is depicted on left side of Jina with a long Umbrella in her hand to protect the Jina from slabs thrown by Kamatha. Jina Parshwa is flanked by two Whisks which is essential as Pratiharya of Jina. Moreover, on the right side of Jina Parshwa a figure is depicted beside the feet of Jina. Perhaps the image should be of Acharya who caused to consecrate the shrine. Eventually it can be concluded that the Jina Parshwa image of Allur is unique, ancient and rarely found elsewhere.
Principal image of Jina Parshwa:- Principal image of Lord Parshwanatha is installed in Garbhgriha of Temple. The mesmeric image is sculpted in black stone and delineated in Kayotsarga posture. The Image has about 3.5 feet height with smooth body proportions and refinement. The image consists of chatra, chanwar which is an obvious depiction in the case of Teerthankara. The image has two devotee images on right side whereas an Acharya caused to consecrate the Jina is carved on left side of Jina.
Padmasana image of Jina Parshwa:- In the Ardhamandapa of the shrine; an another image which is fairly big in size is installed on vedi situated at right corner. The image is also a specimen of Chalukyan art and such images are extensively unearthed in this region. The image has seven serpents hood over head where each hood is ornamented by a jewel. The image is sculpted in black stone depicting meditation posture over lotus seat. The body proportions and art of the image is attractive.
The temple is maintained and worshiped by a local person who is appointed as priest cum caretaker of ancient Parshwanatha shrine. He daily performs anointment of Lord Jinas but don’t have the knowledge of daily worship of Jina. He is a non Jain person but only a single person in the whole village to take care of the shrine. Although the Jain temple premise is illuminated with solar lamp installed by Gram Panchayat but the arrangements are not enough.
Scholar cum Historian D.N. Akki often visits to this place and his contribution for this temple is incredible. Due to his constant endeavors temple is highlighted in the local Jain community of Gulbarga as well as the whole India.
History of Allur and Jain shrine:- As we dig into the history of Allur village we find a glorious past of this place. The village Allur was anciently known as Araluru and aral etc. The place was a headquarter seat among the 300 nearby villages during the early medieval centuries when the territory was governed by Western Chalukyas and Haihaya sovereigns.
A village named Handaraki situated in the territory of Allur was once a great center of Haihaya lineage. The area was governed by Haihaya rulers from Handaraki; the fact is well attested by inscriptions from this place.
Recently about 3 years ago an inscription on stone slab along with a sculpture was unearthed at Allur Jain temple. The inscription is inscribed in ancient kannada and hailed from about 1050 AD. The inscription was observed by scholar D.N.Akki, eminent epigrapher M.G. Manjunath from Maysore University and Sitaram Jagirdar.
After careful observation it is concluded that the village was once governed by Kalyani Chalukya’s chieftains and the temple was constructed by devotee Banneya machisetty under guidance of Jain ascetics Muni Gunachndra. Experts added that the place where the inscription was found has traces Nishadis. The proofs corroborate that there Jain saints used to practice ‘Sallekhana Vrita’, a rigorous ritual of holy fast unto death, which aimed to gain liberation from the world.