Jain Idols at Aretippur
A few weekends back when we visited Kokkare Bellur, we had taken a diversion to Aretippur six kilometers past Kokkare Bellur. Aretippur is a small village with just a few hundred houses. Strange but true you won’t find any mention of this village in modern maps, but plenty of it in several ancient inscriptions.
We had read about old Jain idols lying scattered on a hillock there, so that was the motivation for this trip. For sometime we kept driving around the hillocks not knowing exactly where the idols would be found or which hillock to climb. We asked for directions and all pointed to two hillocks there. Still confused and not knowing where to start climbing the hillock from, we were contemplating on returning and do just bird watching at Kokkare Bellur. Suddenly a lady came forward, she introduced herself as Padmavati and offered to guide us to the hill top and we happily followed her.
The whole hillock ‘Kanakagiri’ seemed to belong to us, no other soul in sight. Just an hour back it had rained heavily so the rocks were quite slippery, the climb was cool and we managed to reach the top.
And there we stood watching with disbelief, idols, relics, stones with inscriptions all lying scattered. As usual, just a blue board stands there declaring the site as protected monument. Some of the idols are propped up with boulders, some still half inside the ground, all at the mercy of weather. Only the Prasavanath idol looked complete and majestic.
A legless torso of a Tirthankara lying there uncared can shock you.
There is a long stone inscription believed to be of Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana’s time stands there. The inscription in Kannada records the grant of the village to a Jain teacher. Jainism prospered in Karnataka from the times of Chandragupta 2300 years ago. It flourished during the Gangas, Hoysalas and finally till the Vijayanagaras reign, after which Aretippur lost its significance. The idols here are the only proof that the Jainism thrived here centuries back.
There is a beautiful pond, surrounded by rocks; the water from this pond is used only for religious purposes. Swimming, bathing or defiling it is totally prohibited we were told by Padmavati.
She offered to take us to another hillock, Doddabetta which had a 10feet tall statue of Lord Gomatashwara. But my 11 year old daughter’s in built gyro doesn’t seem to work properly; she slipped and fell three to four times there, so we decided against it. May be we will make another trip during a drier and sunnier day, and then may be another post on that. Do click on this pic. to see the lone idol at the hill top.
Padmavati, the smart guide.
Read more here: Abandoned Lords.
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