A Journey through History and Nature

Jun 18, 2009

As travelling and observation has been my hobby and passion, on the advice of one of the readers of the Daijiworld.com, i recently took the route of Karkala-Naravi to Belthangady. It proved to be a journey through history and nature.

The township of Karkala presents a picture of medieval ambience with narrow roads and streets lined with old traditional houses and shops that are stuffed with varieties of goods and merchandise. Karkala has rich treasure of historical monuments that belong to Hinduism, Jainism and Christianity.

Karkala acquires its name from the term ‘Kari Kallu’ meaning ‘black granite’, which is available in large quantities which had been used by the Jain sculptors and architects generously in constructing various ‘basadis’ and the gigantic monolithic statue of ‘Lord Bahubali’ or ‘Gomateshwara’.

Chaturmukha Basadi and Savira Kambada Basadi

Among the Jain monuments, the ‘Chaturmukha Basadi’, constructed in 1586, is the most attractive that manifests the architectural and sculptural achievements of the medieval artists. The famous monolithic statue of ‘Lord Bahubali’ rising to a height of 42 feet was installed on a rocky hill in 1432. Every twelve years, thousands of Jain devotees come to Karkala to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will take place in 2014.

Besides the Jain Basadis, there are a number of Hindu temples that go back in history. It is said that, the Goud-Saraswats from Goa who were fleeing from the atrocities of the Portuguese landed in Karkala and were generously welcomed by the Jain rulers of the region. The temple of Venkataramana in which the Goud-Saraswats worship was constructed in 1537. Another famous temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the Anantha Padmanabha temple which is also situated in the vicinity of the Karkala town.

The famous church dedicated to St. Lawrence at Attur in the outskirts of the Karkala town is one of the most revered pilgrim centres which attract people from different faiths. The present church was built in the year 1839.The miraculous circumstances that led to the foundation of the church and the belief in the power of St. Lawrence to intercede with God and grant favours to those who invoked his name turned the church into a pilgrimage centre. Every Thursday people from different faiths and places throng to the church for novena prayers. Every year
in the last week of January, people from all walks of life regardless of religion and from all over the country pay a visit to offer their prayers during the annual festival spreading from Tuesday to Thursday.

Other important attractions of the Karkala town are the Ramasamudram and the Anekere, the latter now being divided into two by a connecting road and is filled with silt and vegetation which requires restoration.

There are private buses at regular intervals to Belthangady which take the Bajagoli-Naravi-Guruvayanakere route. There are also few buses that take Moodabidri-Venur-Guruvayanakere route. While the travel through the Bajagoli-Naravi route is a feast to nature lovers, the Moodabidri-Venur route presents a rich experience to the lover of both history and nature.

As the bus proceeds on the Bajagoli-Naravi route, the travellers, those who are alert can see the churches at Miyar and Nellikar (recently renovated) and a number of temples, mosques and government schools. In between, the old tile-roofed houses and shops as well as the bungalows of the rich pass through. The winding roads through hills and forests enable the traveller to view the coconut, areca nut and rubber plantations at regular intervals.

From Naravi, one can get the glimpses of the gigantic Western Ghats through the gaps in the forests. During this season the hovering white and dark clouds at the top of the ghats and the green patches at the centre and bottom give a feeling just out of the world. One can also come across the signboards demarcating the Kudremukh National Park. It takes around two hours to reach Belthangady from Karkala through this route.

Those who take the Moodabidri-Venur route can visit the famous Jain monument, the ‘Thousand Pillared Basadi’ (Savirakambada Basadi) at Moodabidri and the monolithic 38 feet high statue of Gomateshwara at Venur erected by the Jain ruler Timmanna Ajila in 1604. Venur also has a few other Jain Basadis and a Mahadeva temple.

Karakal, Dharmastala and Venur

Dharmasthala also has a monolithic statue of Gomateshwara situated on the Ratnagiri hill. This statue is 52 feet in height and weighs around 200 tons. This statue was sculpted by Shri Renjala Gopala Shenoy of Karkala and was installed at Dharmasthala in 1975. Thus, out of four monolithic statues of Lord Bahubali or Gomateshwara, three are found at Karkala, Venur and Dharmasthala. The first and the tallest (57 feet) statue of Gomateshwara, considered to be the world's largest monolithic statue is at Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district erected between 978-993 on the Vindyagiri by Chamundarya, a general of King Gangaraya.

Those travellers who are interested in adventure and history can also pay a visit to the Jamalabadu Fort located 8 kilometres from Belthangady on the road to Killur. The fort was built by Tipu Sultan in 1794 and named after his mother, Jamalabee. The top of the fort can be reached through a narrow path comprising of nearly 1876 steps that are cut out of the granite hill. The fort was captured by the British in 1799 during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in which Tipu Sultan was killed at Seringapatam.

The stretch from Karkala to Belthangady has a number of historical monuments as well as natural beauty that would make the journey of any lover of history and nature memorable provided he or she has enough time to explore this region.

Dr Eugene D`Souza - Archives:

by Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Mumbai
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Comment on this article

  • cyril mathias, udupi

    Mon, Jun 22 2009

    We are afraid that one day this serenity will disappear and become the thing of the past like so many extinct species.Wonderful presentation sir.


    Sat, Jun 20 2009

    Real Color of our homeland......

  • John Tauro, Mangalore l Kuwait

    Sat, Jun 20 2009

    Staying in a distant land, I really do feel and enjoy being at home in my native place while going through your highly informative articles accompanied by attractive photographs.

  • Mike, KSA

    Fri, Jun 19 2009

    Indeed Dr. D''Souza''s photography always intereting to look at. In this article, the 6th photo from top (a vehicle in the middle of the wet road-an electric pole-two people conversing in side of the road, one on the bike-tiles on the roofs-unplastered walls etc) speak hundreds of things. We await more and more articles from Dr. D''Souza.

  • Celine, Muscat

    Fri, Jun 19 2009

    Dear Bavoji, very very interesting article, which brings back to my old memories. Good luck

  • Ravi D''Silva, Karkala / London

    Fri, Jun 19 2009

    Wow...... It reminded me of my childhood days. Nice to see the pics. In one of the picture, the road hasn''t changed, still the same for decades.!!

  • srini, hyd

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    who are goud-saraswats are they the sames goud/nadar from ap and TN?

  • John Pereira, Kulshekar,M''lore/Ghatkopar,Mumbai

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    Yes, Karkala or''Karkol''as they say in Konkani is famous for a quite a few landmarks in and around Karkol which include Kudremukh iron ore mines, Terraced tea gardens, which I happened to visit Attur Church with miraculous springs pond, Jain monument Chaturmukha Basadi, Hindu temples such as Venkatarmana and Padmanabha, Gomateswara digambara atatue at Karkol: one of the 3 statues in the region and several other historical sites as mentioned by Dr. Eugene D''Souza who seems to have an eye for detail of historical venues apart from some nature''s beauties such as Kudremukh National Park etc. Although, I toured the area several times, latest being last year, I was unaware of most of the historical sites mentioned by Eugene Sir. Probably, when I happen to go through Karkol area next time, I will be able to pinpoint and see some of the historical sites and appreciate the historical significance etc. Thanks for the research done by Eugene Bab for enlightening people like me who are also very much interested in History and natural beauty.

  • Anand D''silva, Mangalore/Dubai

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    I am very much convinced that India has all the beauty nature can offer. Whenever on vacation I deliberately take the opportunity to explore some interior places and when I viewed Lord Bahubali''s statue on the hill I was spellbound. If one looks down from the hill the view is even more spectacular and instantly transports you back to the Jain era. All Mangaloreans must make it a point to visit this beautiful site.

  • R.Pai, Mangalore/USA

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    I enjoy your articles as they are far from regular politics and propaganda that we see/read. If I may, let me give a few tips here: - Add the local names as well. For example, Jamalabaad is popularly known as "Gadayi Kallu". - You should have also written something about Ujire, an important educational institute with its unique contribution in various fields. - I almost find no reference to Islamic sites. May be, you can include some historical Islamic places as well. - Try to use your own pictures instead of postcard pictures. We are curious to know how you capture the places you visit. Thanks again for the post.

  • rajesh, mangalore

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    Good article and very nice pictures......Thanx

  • nasir hussain, KARKALA / DUBAI

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    It''s BEAUTYFULL................

  • M.Bhat, Mumbai

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    Very good article by Dr. Eugene D’Souza. I read all your articles on nature explorations with interest. Keep writing as i too love expeditions. I had been to subramanya last month from Udupi via same route you mentioned. They were really beautiful. Very good photography too with the article. GOD bless you.

  • Tanveer, Mangalore/UAE

    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    Wow, Karkala is the place where I was born....has been a long time since I have been there though. The saantmaari at the attur church used to be a most awaited event for us, we used have our biryani stalls there...people used to throng in large numbers. The picture of the attur church took me back to the meomory lane. Thanks.


    Thu, Jun 18 2009

    Good article and very nice pictures......Thanx

  • vraj, Udupi/Abudhabi

    Thu, Jun 18 2009


  • lawrence D''Mello, Karkala,Sydney

    Wed, Jun 17 2009

    Excellent, simply marvellous!

  • Ivan Frank, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 17 2009

    Good pictures and good coverage

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