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.

Check out other Weekenders here.

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23 Responses

  1. evlahos says:

    you have travel us to a magical place with interesting history and historical monuments. thanks again. great work

  2. Swarna says:

    Nice, Indy.
    There are a lot of Jain treasures still being discovered. (See today’s ‘The Hindu’)

  3. Kat says:

    Great post Indy 🙂 Have begun to enjoy these virtual trips you take all of us. Good of you people to
    have got energized to climb Kanakagiri and be amply rewarded.

    Feel like bringing some paint and adding a “Un” before the declaration “Protected Monument”

    Should ask Padmavati if the people who put up the board are behind bars since they seem to be responsible to have ‘injured’, ‘altered’, ‘defaced’ and caused ‘imperil’ to the national monument..!!!

  4. Very nice. Your trips are interesting and so well illustrated. Nice touch, adding Padmavati’s picture there, too.

    So sad that the idols are left uncared for. Kat says it all – for me as well.

  5. Gina says:

    What a fascinating post. The pool is especially beautiful.

  6. Thanks Vlahos.

    Thanks Swarna… I saw it in The Hindu.

    Thanks Kat… the trip was fun and adventurous, with my daughters competing who could spot more idols and then it was “Ma take this ones photo” all the while.

    Thanks Raji… We shelled out few tenners to her and she was very happy. She asked us to return again.

    Thanks Gina… Welcome to my blog.

  7. Bengbeng says:

    awesome post this one. my hair stood on end to see this these priceless relics exposed to the weather n possibly vandalism. it shows the people in yr country are tolerant in terms of religious belief

  8. Maddy says:

    the history of jainism/buddhism in south india and the story of vijayanagara are very interesting and lesser researched subjects. i was suprised to see teh state of those idols..

  9. We had such rocks in my native place. So I know exactly how slippery they can be in the rainy season; nevertheless, it was a challenge for us then in our childhoood to balance and walk across such rocks.

    Well described and illustrated post on the Jain idols at Aretippur. Thank you for sharing.

  10. reader Wil says:

    The nice thing of blogging is that we travel the whole world without leaving the house! This is a most interesting blog. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Jenn says:

    Very great pictures! Thanks for “taking me there.”

    My WS photos are now posted in these blogs:

    Shutter Happenings
    Le Kulitszie Familie
    Memories by Jenn
    Jenn Was Here

    Please drop by if you have the time. Thanks!

  12. That’s fascinating! These are wonderful, mysterious things.

  13. Juliana RW says:

    wow…this is cool place..

    My WS in here and in here

    Btw, I am running Travel to 7 continents. Feel free to join or not.

  14. genny says:

    Wow that is a pretty shots good job. Happy WS!

  15. shubd says:

    What a fascinating place !
    And just one more site that can make you cringe at the apathy for our ancient heritage .
    I so hope that we do not lose these monuments for lack of preservation .

    Great pics Indrani and thank God for people like Padmavati . God bless her .

  16. Carver says:

    Those are amazing shots and a great post.

  17. backpacker says:

    I read about it as well..and been wanting to go there but Angadi and other Hoysala places beckoned me ..will travel here soon and get the directions from u

    Lakshmi

  18. Hilary says:

    Wonderful post and incredible shots. I don’t think I’d want to leave a place like that for a very long time.. well at least until I run out of batteries.

  19. Jeanne says:

    interesting post.

    My WS Entry is here, check it out.

  20. Another fab post from you and great pictures too. I never knew of this place! Government Apathy shows! Even in other places that are “protected” sites, one can still see relics of the past lying all around like debris. Keep posting such interesting stuff, you’ve got eager fans all around,

  21. Meera says:

    Hi,

    I’m the person who wrote the article Abandoned Lords in Deccan Herald (thanks for adding a link to it). I was close to tears when I saw this place – such apathy, such utter contempt for our past and for what is also a very beautiful, evocative place. We climbed the hill with the Gomateshwara statue with a 6 year-old. He thoroughly enjoyed the climb. The statue on top is really beautiful.

    Nice post. Nice shots.

  22. hello Indrani,

    Its a very nice Blog and i was waiting to get the snaps of that place. I had plans to visit that place since past 3 months but due to work schedule i couldn’t. i have the history behind it like who built it and when, which dynasty etc . . . . See my blog http://www.kamalbasti.blogspot.com and my photos of similar type in : http://picasaweb.google.com/bchipre

    Do comment back or mail me.

    Brahma.

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