Kambadahalli – The Pillar, the Namesake

Introduction – Kambadahalli is a village situated in Mandya district of Karnataka. It is a medium size village with population of around 900 as per the 2011 census. The village was named after the famous Mana-stambha pillar standing near its main Jain temple1.

In its early inscriptions, the place is referred as Bindiganavile which, at present, is another nearby village. It might be possible that the present village was part of the large Bindiganavile tirtha at that point of time and Bindiganavile continued to enjoy that reputation. However, soon, this village is rechristened as Kambadahalli, probably after setting up of the famed pillar.

Kambadahalli was a great Jain center during the Ganga period and it continues this reputation even today. The Gangas were devout Jainas and carried out various activities to uplift and maintain the faith. Shravanabelagola became the most famous Jain center in the south during the Ganga period. Vicinity to Shravanabelagola acted as a catalyst for Kambadahalli which helped the latter to attain the reputation and fame.

The village gained importance around the ninth-tenth century CE when two Jain temples were constructed. The endowments continued till the Hoysala period, as evident by its inscriptions.

Panchakuta Basadi

Monuments – Among the monuments of interested, two Jain temples and one standalone pillar would be described below.

Panchakuta Basadi – Sarma2 describes this complex as the most finite example of a structural unit of the Southern dvitala Vimana type of three classes, Nagara, Dravida and Vesara, built over a samachaturasra body. He further mentions that such a structural unit, dedicated to Jain faith, is only to be seen at Kambadahalli but nowhere else.

Jina in kayotsarga-mudra

Srinivasan3 tells that the Western Gangas followed the architectural compositions and sculptural creations from their Rashtrakuta-Chalukya patterns, however they followed it in the Pallava-Pandya fabric of hard rock-material such as granite. About the Panchakuta Basadi, Srinivasan4 writes, ‘This unique complex is a text-book model, displaying many of the diverse types of architectural members and motifs as codified in the then current manuals on Agama, Silpa and Vastu and as such is of great interest not only for the students of architecture and art, but also to the aesthete, who can perceive in its parts many fine points of line and grace.’ Absence of shukanasi is also a characteristic which points to southern affiliation of these temples5.

The temple complex is supposedly been built in three phase, a trikuta-temple belonging to first phase, prakara and gopuram to the second phase and the two lateral temples in the third and the last phase6. Sarma7 goes for two phase approach, stating that the trikuta unit and gopura entrance were coeval. The trikuta temple, belonging to the earliest phase, consisted of three equal sized vimanas. These three vimanas are at three cardinal directions, central vimana facing north, and two others facing west and east. All the three vimanas have their own ardha-mandapas, which are connected to the same maha-mandapa resulting in a harmonized single unit. The maha-mandapa is further attached to another pillared maha-mandapa.

Dravidian Shikhara

Various southern agamic texts differentiate the vimana styles solely based upon the shikhara (tower) irrespective of the shape of the base on which the shikhara is built. The most prominent vimana styles, as mentioned in these agamic texts, are Nagara, Dravida and Vesara. This trikuta-temple was built illustrating this very ternary classification. The central vimana, facing north, is dedicated to Adinatha. It has a square shikhara, classified as Brahmachhanda class, falling under the Nagara style. The vimana facing east is dedicated to Neminatha. It has an octagonal shikhara, classified as Vishnuchhanda class, falling under the Dravida style. The Vimana facing west is dedicated to Shantinatha. It has a circular shikhara, classified as Rudrachhanda class, falling under the Vesara style.

Srinivasan8 suggests that placement of these three vimanas in different cardinal directions is significant. The Nagara Vimana is placed facing north suggesting its northern origin, while the Dravida vimana is placed facing east suggesting its origin to the eastern countries of the Pallavas, Cholas etc., while the Vesara vimana placed facing west suggests its western origins in the country of Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas etc.

Jina in a niche

The external walls of these vimanas have six pilasters, the central two forming a deva-koshthas (niche). The pilasters forming the deva-koshthas are surmounted by a torana above. Though all these toranas are essentially Makara-toranas however the artists have tried to depict different torana types as described in texts. We find here patra-torana consisting of foliage and flowers, citra-torana consisting of birds and animals, vidyadhara-torana with a flying frieze of vidyadharas making two arms of the arch. The last torana, vidyadhara-torana, is unknown in texts and practice however it finds a mention in an inscription of Rajendra Chola I9. The original sculptures housed inside the deva-koshthas are lost. It is suggested that all 24 tirthankars were adorning these niches10. Above the pilasters, below the beam, is found a frieze of swans, known as hamsavalabhi. Hamsavalabhi is a characteristic Ganga feature, as we find bhuta-vari among the contemporary Pallava examples.

Dharanendra
Agni

The temple is entered through a mandapa, entrance provided from two sides. In front of this mandapa is a bali-pitha. The base of bali-pitha has depiction of ashta-dikpalas over an octagonal section. This front mandapa connects to the maha-mandapa where the latter is built in a navaranga fashion, consisting to nine same sized ankanas. The central ankana is supported on four pillars. The ceiling on this ankana depicts asta-dikpalas, riding over their mounts and wives. In the center stands Yaksha Dharanendra holding a bow and blowing a shankha. A five-hooded serpent makes a canopy over Dharanendra.

Adinatha Shrine

All the three sanctums have images enshrined. The Adinatha temple has two Parshvanatha images, on either side, in antarala. An image of Adinatha is enshrined inside the sanctum. The Santinatha temple has an image of Parshvanatha on left while an image of Santinatha with chowry-bearers is enshrined inside. The Neminatha temple has an image of Yaksha Sarvanubhuti on the left and Yakshi Ambika on the right, while an image of Neminatha with chowri-bearers is enshrined inside the sanctum.

Neminatha Shrine

Identification of Yakshi Ambika is disputed, Sarma11 goes for Ambika where Shah argues that as the Yakshi sits on a pedestal in front of which is shown her lion vehicle with two figures riding on it. It would seem these two are the sons of her and that that sculpture represents the yakshini Ambika. But here the goddess does not sit under a mango tree and hence it might be better to identify her tentatively as Siddhayini holding a citron in her left and. The upper part of the symbol held in her right hand is mutilated. This was either a book or a fly-whisk. The sculpture shows Chola influence and may be dated to 11th century CE12.

Shantinatha

As per another opinion, the images enshrined inside these sanctums are made of softer stone, different from the harder granite which is the original fabric of the temple. This suggests that these images were installed later on, replacing the original ones, probably as the original images were damaged13. It is suggested that the Adinatha image was installed by Parshvadeva, a Ganga general in Hoysala army, in 1167 CE14. Dhaky however differs from these theories and states that the images inside the sanctums are of Ganga craftsmanship.

All the sikharas are dvitala (two storey) structures. Each tala is formed by combination of karnakutas (square structure) and bhadrasalas (oblong structure). At the four corners of the top tala are placed four couchant lions, with its fore-paws raised and head turned to side. Srinivasan15 opines that this form the lanchana of a Jain temple as described by texts. He also tells that this feature came into vogue after the Pallava king Rajasimha (700-728 CE).

The two vimanas, added little later, are also of Ganga origin. These are of similar sizes as of their earlier cousins, falling under Nagara category. Srinivasan16 tells that both the vimanas are Mahavira, Sarma17 mentions that one dedicated to Mahavira while the other one to Adinatha. These two vimanas face each other on the east-west axis. Both are adorned with their ardha-mandapas and maha-mandapas where the latter join into a common open mukha-mandapa. This mukha-mandapa comes exactly in front of the bali-pitha and thus with the trikuta unit, they all together form a panchakuta arrangement.

Though these two opposing vimanas are of Ganga origin however they reflect few differences from their trikuta cousins. Where the trikuta unit is built on a pratibandha adhisthana consisting of tripatta-kumuda, these two later vimanas have slight different adhisthana arrangement. The vimana facing east is built on pratibandha adhisthana however it has vritta-kumuda instead of tripatta-kumuda. The vimana facing west is built on a kapotabandha adhisthana and has the tripatta-kumuda.

The maha-mandapa of both the vimanas is of navaranga pattern with central ceiling supported on four pillars. The central ceiling of both the maha-mandapas has ashta-dikpala arrangement

Srinivasan18 assigns the temple between 900-1000 CE. Sarma19 assigns the temple to the late ninth century CE.

Shantinatha Basadi

Santinatha Basadi – This temple would have been built slightly later than the Panchkuta Basadi therefore Dhaky20 describes it as a good example of the later or terminal stages of the Ganga art. The temple is comprised of a sanctum with two ranga-mandapas, linked with each other on a common rectangular platform.

Horse-riders frieze

Two huge dvarpalas are placed in the hall at the entrance. The dvarpalas show Chola influence, holding trishula and snake. This suggests that these are Shiva dvarpalas and were placed here after later on. In the first hall are placed three images, two are of Ganga period and one Hoysala21. Among the Ganga period images are a seated Jina with accompanying chowri-bearers and a yaksha Sarvanubhuti. The third image, another Jina, is of Hoysala origin.

Chola Dvarpalas
Dikpala Panel (image courtesy – Getty Images)
Varuna

The second hall has ashta-dikpala arrangement on its central ceiling. In the central panel is shown Mahavira, seated on a lion throne and with flaming halo. On his either side are shown Yaksha Sarvanubhuti riding an elephant and Yakshi Ambika riding a lion as per Sarma22 whereas Dhaky identifies Yaksha as Matanga and the yakshi as Siddhayika. Identification by Dhaky may be appropriate, Matanga and Siddhayika being attendants of Mahavira.

Yaksha on pillar top

Mana-stambha – This 16 m high pillar, standing little away from Panchakuta Basadi, gave the name to the village, Kambadahalli. The pillar is square at the base, above goes octagonal further going to sixteen-sides fluted shaft. It has a square phalaka at the top. Sarma23 identifies the figure above phalaka with Yaksha Siddhayika, seated facing east. Mysore gazetteer24 mentions the figure at top as Brahma.

Inscriptions: Inscriptions found in the village are published in Epigraphia Carnatica volume VII.

  1. No 26 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – dated Saka 1089, corresponding 1168 CE – The inscription states that the Parsvanatha temple at Bindiganavile was renovated and made lustrous by whitewash by Parsvadeva, son of Nema-dandesa and Muddarasi of the Ganga family. He also endowed some land for ascetics and students. The temple belonged to the ascetics of Hanasoge of Mula-sangha, Desiya-gana and Pustaka-gachcha.
  2. No 27 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – this is an epitaph details of which are lost except the date details. Based upon characters, it can be dated to 12-13th century CE
  3. No 28 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – this records setting up an epitaph in the memory of Rukamavve and Jakavekanti, female disciples of Prabhachandra-saiddhantika of Kondakundanvaya, Mula-sangha, Desiya-gana and Pustaka-gachcha. The record can be assigned to 12th century CE
  4. No 29 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – this records a land grant for the worship of god Santinatha by samanta Bharateya-nayaka of Changi-kula who was ruling Virarajendra-Hoysala-Sanne-nad. The samanta was a subordinate of Hoysala king Ballala II. The records can be dated to 12th century CE
  5. No 30 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – dated 1145 CE – this records renewal of a gift of the village Modaliyahalli by Narasimha Poysaladeva for the worship in the basadi of Kambadahalli. The gift was endowed to Mariyane-dandanayaka and Bharatimayya-dandanayaka, disciples of Gandavimukta-siddhantadeva. The original grant was made by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana.
  6. No 31 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – dated to 13th century CE – the record states that the Saivas (ekkoti-maharudra) having assembled at the tirtha of Mula-sangha, Desi-gana and Pustaka-gachcha at Kambadahalli as Ekkoti-jinalaya and presented the five great musical instruments including the drum to the temple. The elukoti-rudras are eulogized in the record.
  7. No 32 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – dated 12th century CE – this short inscription states that Boppadeva, son of Gangaraja bearing the title drohagharatta-dandanayaka got constructed a kannevasadi. The sculptor is said to be Droha-gharattachari.
  8. No 33 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – dated Saka 1046, corresponding 1124 CE – the record states that when mahapradhani, drohagharatta piriya-dandanayaka, Gangaraja conquered Talakad, the king Hoysaladeva, Vishnuvardhana, being pleased, made a grant of lands, as desired, for the tirtha of Bindiganavile. This was made over to Subhachandra-siddhantadeva of Kondakundanavaya, Mula-sangha, Desiga-gana and Pustaka-gachcha. Pedigree of Jain preceptors of Surastha-gana is provided.
  9. No 34 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – dated Saka 899, corresponding 977 CE – this records death of Gavare-setti in a skirmish with the Beda forces when the latter attacked and carried off women of the village
  10. No 35 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – this record in 13-14th century CE characters, reads Birayya Halayya
  11. No 36 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – This work out record of 11th century CE mentions Raviya….ndivarmma
  12. No 37 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – this record in 17-18th century CE characters mentions construction of a pond to god Chandra-prabhasvami of the hillock
  13. No 38 of Nagamangala taluk in Epigraphia Carnatica vol VII – this record of 12-13th century CE characters registers death of a person whose name is lost. He is said to be the son of Purushottamayya and disciple of Ekavira-bharata

How to Reach – Kambadahalli is about 60 km from Mandya, 75 km from Mysore and 130 km from Bangalore. The road from Mandya to Kambadahalli is in good shape except few patches. The village and temples are well tagged on Google maps to help a visitor locating the place.


References:

1 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 167
2 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. pp 154-55
3 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. pp 162-163
4 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 164
5 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 161
6 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 171
7 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 155
8 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 165
9 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 167
10 Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department for the year 1939. p 44
11 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 163
12 Shah, U P (1987). Jaina Iconography. Abhinav Publications. New Delhi. p 287
13 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 159
14 Annual Report of the Mysore Archaeological Department for the year 1939. p 45
15 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 169
16 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 169
17 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 161
18 Srinivasan, K R (1975). Jaina Art and Architecture under the Gangas of Talakad in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. p 171
19 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 161
20 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 166
21 Dhaky, M A (1975). Ganga Jaina Sculpture in Aspects of Jaina Art and Architecture. pp 195-203
22 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 166
23 Sarma, I K (1992). Temples of the Gangas of Karnataka. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 167
24 Mysore State Gazetteer. p 474