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Sri Venkataramana idol Sri Venkataramana temple, Karkala
|| Sri Venkateshaya Namaha |||| Sri Srinivasaya Namaha ||
Sri Venkataramana temple, Karkala
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Karkala was under Aloopa Kings since 2nd Century A.D. Aloopas ruled Tulunadu from Udyavara, Mangalapura ( Mangaluru) and sometimes from Barahakanyapura (Barakooru). Though independent in internal administration, Aloopas were Mandalikas to Chalukyas, Hoysalas and later Vijayanagara Kings. During the reign of Hoysalas itself, Aloopas’prowess started to plummet and at the end of 13th Century AD, during the reign of Emperors of Vijayanagara, the light of their dominion extinguished and faded into oblivion.When Narasimha the III (1253-1291 AD) of Hoysala empire was the emperor, he appointed his son, Ballal the III in Barkooru as Governor of Tulunadu. Ballal married an Aloop princess, Chikkayitai. When Narasimha the III expired in 1291 AD, Ballal the III enthroned himself and started ruling Hoysala country from Dwarasamudra.

Lokanatha Devarasa:- In early 14th Century AD, Kalasa Kingdom was ruled by Santara’s Lokanatha Devarasa. He was Hoysala’s mandalika. In the past, Santaras used to rule from Hombuccha of Shivamogga district. Jinadatta, a Pandya prince fled from Madhura with a statue of Padmavati Devi. As per Devi’s directions he constructed Hombucchapura and started ruling from there. After several generations, the cousins partitioned the Kingdom. One division ruled from Geresoppa and another from Kalasa. They added Bhairava as their title and so were called Bhairavarasa- Bhairarasa.

In those days Karkala was ruled by a petty King named Yelunadu Kapittu (Kabettu) Heggade. Following 7 towns were under his rule – Karkala, Aiduru, Padangadi, Kerwashe, Aarooru, Nalkooru and Moorooru. At that time Karkala had 770 houses of Jain Shravakas. They traded out of town. They had to pay taxes and octroi to Heggade who was a tyrant. Tired of Heggade’s oppressive rule, Shravakas met the King of Kalasa in Moodabidire, who had come there on piligrimage, and lodged a complaint against Heggade. This King’s advice to Heggade fell on deaf ears. Infuriated, the King deployed his army from Kalasa, fought and ousted Heggade and incorporated Karkala in his Kingdom. This had the sanction of Hoysala Emperor Ballala the III, who chose Lokanatha Devarasa as Mahamandaleshwar of Karkala- Kalasa state. Lokanatha Devarasa thereafter named Karkala as Pandyanagari and made it his capital. An inscription on a Rock Edict in Hiriyangadi dated Shalivahana Shaka 1256 (9-2-1334 AD) Bhava Samvatsar, Phlguna Shukla Panchami, states that Hoysala Emperor bestowed on Santara King Lokanatha Devarasa, title of mahamandaleshwar :“Samastha Bhuvana Ashraya, Prathvivallabha, Maharajadhiraja, Rajaparameshwara and Parama Bhattaraka be hereby honoured with title of Mahamandaleshwara of Karkala- Kalasa.” Here, Lokanatha devarasa has declared that he was a disciple of Charukirti Pandita deva. He is also addressed in this record as Patti Pombuchha Puravaradhishwara. Therefore without hesitation we may call Lokanatha Devarasa as the first Bhairarasa of Karkala. He ruled Karkala from 1330 to 1335 AD. Around this time, merchants of Karkala built Shanthinatha Basadi (Basadi = Jain Temple).


Veera Chennarasa:- Veera Chennarasa succeeded Lokanathadevarasa and ruled Karkala until 1385 AD. He wore the tiltles of Arirayara Gandara Davani, Husivara Shoola, Sharanagatha Vajrapanjara, Marehokkavara Kava etc.




Veera Bhairava Kshemapala or Bhairarasa Vodeya (1385-1419AD):-Tiltles like Uttara Madhuradheeshwara and Padmavati Devi Labdha Prasadita adorned this King. He ruled from Keravashe, central to Karkala and Kalasa, as his capital. He begot two sons, Veera Pandya and Ramanatha Vodeya. When Ramanatha died in young age, Veera Bhairava built a dam to a stream in Karkala, constructed an artificial lake and named it Ramasamudra*, after his son. The fact that Veerabhairava and Veerapandya jointly ruled Karkala-Kalasa state is depicted in a record at Marne village of Karkala dated Shalivahana Shaka 1330, pushya shuddha 10 Thursday of Sarvadhari samvatsara (28-2-1408 AD). It may be surmised that Veerabhairava and Veerapandya ruled jointly, the former from Keravashe and the latter from Karkala.

*(Ramasamudra, one of the breath-taking and picturesque expanse of finest water surrounded on all sides with dense foliage of verdant tropical forest, is a radiant gem amidst several such invaluable sites of Karkala. No wonder, even Lord Venkataramana visits this sylvan paradise, occasionally during certain magnificent Utsavas/ Mahotsavas. A neat ghat suitable for the purpose is constructed on the bank of Ramasamudra).



Veerapandyadeva (1419-1450 AD):- When Veerabhairavarasa breathed his last in 1419AD, Veerapandya ascended the throne. He too was adorned with the title, Arirayara Gandara Davani. Veerapandyadeva installed on a high hillock a colossal monolithic granite statue of Gomateshwara, 41 ½ feet tall, carved out of a single granite boulder in Shalivahana shaka 1353 Virodhikritu Samvatsara Phalguna Shuddha 12th(13-2-1432 AD). This august function was graced by the presence of Emperor of Vijayanagara, Devaraya the II. Later in Shalivahana Shaka 1358 Nala Samvatsara, on Phalguna Shuddha Dwadashi (1437AD) he consecrated at the frontyard of Gomateshwara statue, a Brahmasthambha, carrying an exquisitely beautiful statue of Brahmadeva. After the installation of Gomateshwara statue, Veerapandya adorned the title of Abhinava Chamundaraya. A connoiseur of art and promoter of poets, sculptors and other artists, he was himself a poet of repute and wrote a moral treatise called Bhavyananda in Sanskrit.           


Abhinava Pandya Deva (Abhinava Pandya Devoppodeya)(1450-1475AD):-As per a record in Varanga, he established an enormous 54 feet high unique Manasthambha in Hiriyangadi in 1457. He granted liberal donations to Neminatha Basadi there. Pandya Devoppodeya happens to be a nephew of Veerapandya deva (son of his sister Balamadevi). It appears, the Aliyakattu system [where nephew ( son of a sister) becomes successor] was heralded from here in this dynasty.


Veerabhairarasa Vodeya (1475-1501 AD):- Not much is known about him. A story goes that Emperor of Vijayanagar, Krishnadevaraya’s mother Nagaladevi is Veerabhairarasa’s daughter.


Immadi Bhairarasa (1501-1530 AD)- Son of Veerabhairarasa’s sister Bommaladevi, this man established a branch of Panasoge Lalitakirti Bhattaraka’s peetha in Karkala. Peetadhipathi of this Mutt too are called Lalitakirti Bhattarakas. In 1511 AD, the army belonging to Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar surrounded the coastal area and camped at Bhuvanasale in Mangalore . Immadi Bhairarasa thereupon left Karkala- Keravashe for Kalasa. Later he joined Krishanadevaraya as mandalika. In 1516 AD he renovated Kalaseshwara temple to fulfill a promise, and returned to Karkala . A record of Varanga dated 1522 AD throws light on this invasion by Krishnadevaraya.


Veerapandya or Pandyappodeya (1530-1557 AD):- He happens to be the son of Immadi Bhairarasa’s sister Chandaladevi and his son-in-law too. According to a record, Pandyappodeya built a Chaturmukha basadi ( Aanekere basadi) in Shalivahana shaka

1467 Krodhi Samvatsara on magha Shuddha Sunday (16-1-1544 AD).


Immadi Bhairavendra (1557-1590 AD):- During his reign Kingdom of Karkala-Kalasa spread upto Harihara in Chitrdurga district. As per records, Immadi Bhairavendra maintained a vast army of 5,000 local soldiers and 5,000 soldiers recruited from Malabar. This army was complimented by a cavalry regiment comprising of 2,000 trained warriors


Immadi Bhairavendra constructed a mammoth Chaturmukha basadi on 16-3-1586 over a hillock opposite Gomatabetta (Gomata hill). This Jain temple surpasses in size and beauty all other basadis of Karkala. Massive doors in four directions open into Gararbhagudis (sanctum). Garbhagudi of each direction has in it 3 man-sized statues each of Ara, Malli and Munisuvrita. Western garbhagudi houses 24 miniature statues of 24 Thirthankaras with Padmavati and yakshi on either sides. Huge granite pillars exhibit delicately chissled carvings which reflect the contemporary sculpture of Vijayanagara era. The roof is constructed entirely out of stone slabs, sloping , so as to let the rain water drain off easily. In the record found there, this magnificent edifice has been described as, “ Sarvatobhadra Chathurmukha Ratnatrayaroopa Thribhuvanatilaka Chaityalaya”. Chandranatha basadi, also called as Shravana basadi near Aanekere* was also constructed by Veerabhairavendra. Apart from this, he constructed another basadi called Sadhana Chaityalaya in Koppa of Chikkamagaluru district in 1598 AD. He established a school in Hiriyangadi for Jain Veda study and ordered all Jain Shravakas of Karkala and outskirts to send their children there for study. He sent his own son to that school.


*[Anekere = Elephant lake, so called because elephants of the palace and temples used to be bathed in it’s waters in olden days. Prior to this, Anekere was called Padmasarovara (lotus lake). Even today the lake breeds white and pink lotus plants in plenty.]           


In honour of Shringeri Gurus, Veera Bhairavendra brought from Nellikaru, a surpassingly beautiful statue of Ananthashayana and installed it in a half constructed basadi structure. This is the famed Ananthashayana Temple of Karkala.


According to a copper inscription found in Basroor, Emperor of Vijayanagara, Sadashivaraya handed over rights of Barkoor and Mangalore Kingdoms to Nayaks of Kelady in Shalivahana Shaka 1476, Ananda Samvatsara on Kartika Shuddha first (27-10-1556). Consequently, Bhairarasa of Karkala came under the rule of Kelady’s Nayaks. Now, Kelady Kings belonged to Veerashaiva faith and hardly patronised Jainism. After 1600 AD, Jainism started loosing its moorings in Barkoor and Mangalore. Jain merchants cost their business . Ritual worship in Gomateshwara hill came to a stand-still. In 1610 AD, Bhairarasa Vodeya the III came to power. Later, with consent from Kelady Nayaks and assistance from other petty Jain rulers, brought about the revival of Gomatabetta temple by expeditious rededication rituals, followed by celebration of Mahamasthakabhisheka ceremony in Shalivahana Shaka 1568 Parthiva Samvatsara on Phalguna Shuddha Dwadashi (1646 AD) . Thereupon ritual worship of Gomateshwara started again.


             Around 1650 AD, Venkatappa Nayaka the II, brother of Kelady’s Shivappa Nayaka waged a war and defeated Bhairarasa the III and annexed Karkala-Kalasa state and merged it into Kelady Kingdom. Bhairarasa’s kingdom tumbled. Bhairarasa probably lost his life in this battle. After this downfall, none from Bhairarasa dynasty appear on the scene. The 500 years old Bhairarasa’s Kingdom faded into extinction. Later in 1763, Haiderali won over Kelady Kingdom and amalgamated it into Mysore state. Haiderali’s son Tippu-Sultan was later defeated at Shreerangapattana by the British in 1799 AD. Tippu lost his life in the battle field. The British took over Mysore. Later region of West coast including Karkala was incorporated in Madras presidency.





Bhairarasas were excellent administrators. Though they were mandalikas intermittently under Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Kelady Kings, nevertheless they were quite independent in their internal administration. They raised a well-trained army. Though the Kings were Jains, they were tolerant of all faiths. People of all faiths lived in peace in Karkala. Art & Literature were well promoted during their reign. 18 Jain basadis were constructed at their time. 41 ½ feet tall exceedingly beautiful Gomateshwara as well as 54 feet high massive Manasthambha of Hiriyangadi were a contribution from Bhairarasas. Temple with exquisite statue of Ananthashayana as well as the famous Karkala Shree Venkataramana temple took shape during their rule and stand as mute witnesses to their tolerance of all faiths. Many poets blossemed in Bhairarasas’ court. Some of the Kings themselves were good poets.         


Veerapandya Vodeya: He consecrated Gomateshwara in 1432 AD. He was a poet of high calibre. His Sanskrit treatise Bhavyananda, a neetishastra, has a total of 116 shlokas (hymns) in various Chandobandhas. In this compilation, he has expounded, the premise that by leading a moral life and emulating Jain doctrines and imbibing qualities of nonviolence, forgiveness and compassion and thus generating right wisdom bestoves Soul-Bliss on noble people. One of the Shlokas reads as follows:


                        Krodhadyugra kashaya mishra charitam hitvasada nirmalam

                        Nirdvandam niravadya vaibhavam nidhim lokatrayaradhitam

                        Prasvashtashta gunashtakam gatabhayam doorikrato grantakam

                        Bhavya, twam vraja nitya sowkhyanilayam samshuddhasiddhalayam


Kalyanakirti:- Contemporaneous to Veerapandya Vodeya and very close to him was a Jain muni named Kalyanakeerti who wrote literary works like Jnanachandrabhyudaya, Nagakumara Charitre, Kamana Kathe, Chinmaya Chintamani, Anuprekshatattvabhedashtaka and Ananda Kandali. Over and above these he is also known to have composed Yashodhara Charite in Sanskrit.




It becomes clear that he was contemporary to Veerapandya and that he held a respectable place in the royal court when we see the following statement from his Kamana Kathe :


                                    Bhumipa Bhairavasuta Pandyarajanu

                                    Kamana kateyanu keluvade

                                    Kamisi prarthisalam manadandenu

                                    Kamana kateyanu rachisalu



Ratnakara Varni:- Around 1,500 AD, Moodabidire-born Ratnakara Varni was the court poet of Karkala’s Bhairarasa. In 1530-35AD, he wrote a great treatise called “ Bharatesha Vaibhava’. “This song of mine is meant to be freely sung by household ladies easily”, he declared , “and not for amusement of pundits. It should be so simple and easy, not just for Kannadigas , but also those speaking Telugu and Tulu should understand its import and exclaim, “Oh, what a beauty!” in their respective languages. He did away with all the rules of grammar, diction etc, dear to pundits and all specious attributes adopted in literature which fetch titles were skipped by him as he was reluctant to convert his work into a bookish commodity.


                                    Ayyayya chennadudene Kannadigaru

                                    Rayya manchidiyane Teluga

                                    Ayyayya yencha poraledendu Tuluvaru

                                    Maiyubbi kelabekanna                                 || 4||


                                    Rala kula shithila samasa muntadava

                                    Rolagilli kelavullaruntu

                                    Kelavilladaruvillavekendavara ko

                                    Taleyeke haadugabbadolu                                 || 5 ||


                                    Sakala lakshnavu vastukake, varnakakishtu

                                    Vikalavadaru doshavilla

                                    Sakala lakshnakagi birusumadidare pu

                                    Stakada badanekayahudu                                     || 6 ||


Ratnakara Varni was decorated with the title ‘ Shrangarakavi Hansaraja’. He was

fond of the title, ‘ Ratnakarasiddha’. For a time, because of some controversial argument with his Kulaguru, he gave up Jainism and embraced Veerashaiva faith. It is believed that he wrote, after adopting Veerashaiva faith, ‘Someshwara Shataka’ (popularly believed to have been composed by Halkurike Somanatha). After a time, when his anger subsided he rejoined Jainism and composed 3 shatakas viz: ‘Ratnakaradheeshwara Shataka’,‘Aparajiteshwara Shataka’ and ‘Triloka Shataka’. These contain in them 128 poems each. Triloka Shataka is in Kanda form & the other 2 in vritta form . He breathed his last between 1560-70 A.D.


            Lalitakeerti Bhattaraka Swamiji:- Peethadhipati of 17th Century mutt of Karkala, Shri Lalitakeerti Swamiji compiled a treatise deciphering the meaning of all the words of Jain Mahapurana and gifted the treatise to Charukeerti Swamiji of Moodabidire. This as yet unpublished literary work is still in the archives of Moodabidire’s Shreemathi Ramarani Jain Research Centre, in the manuscript form on Palm leaves. Encouraged by this Peethadhipati, one Nagachandra by name wrote ‘ Vishapahara Stotrateeka’ and another named Yashahkeerti wrote ‘ Sandehadwanta’, both in Sanskrit.


Chadura Chandrama:- He belonged to the court of Bhairarasa the III in 1610 AD. Enthralled by the sheer grandeur of Mahamasthakabhishekha of Gomateshwara organized in 1646 AD, he compiled a work titled , ‘Karkala Gomateshwara charite’, in which he has described the sculpting of Gomateshwara statue 214 years ago and details of Mahamasthakabhisheka charged with splendour seen with his own eyes. This book written in Sangathya has 17 sandhis and 2205 stanzas. He belonged to Jainism. His Vidyaguru was Shruthasagara muni and Mahendra Keerti was his Deekshaguru. Nothing more is known of this poet.

Bhairarasa’s capital Karkala comprised of suburban extensions like Bettadangadi, Hiriyangadi, Kerekodi etc. Bettadangadi, clustered with large mansions of ministers and

high ranking government officials was called Pandyanagari. Grandiose royal palace too

graced this place. This section had in it street settlements called Goldsmiths’ keri,

‘Brass-smiths’ keri, Accountants’ keri, Prostitutes’ keri, Commander- Samanthas’

keri and so on. Houses of 770 Jain shravakas stood here. Also Bunts, Heggades, Moilis,

Billavas, Adidravidas and other clans resided here. Agriculture was the main occupation

here and the people cultivated rice, cocunuts, betelnuts, plantain, black pepper etc.

Weavers weaving cloth , Smiths fabricating copper, brass and bronze pots & pans,

Ganigas extracting oil, Carpenters working on timber, Goldsmiths crafting delicate

ornaments etc. carried on their industry there in large numbers. Groups of merchants

travelling to and fro outstation towns traded in textiles, jaggery, salt, oil, grain, pulses,

gold, silver and other metals. These teams of merchants were called ‘Settikara sangha’.

Transportation of goods was carried on by bullock carts and they themselves arranged

teams of armed guards to protect man, animal, and goods from thieves and highway

robbers. These merchants paid octroi to the King, who occasionally consulted them on

the affairs of his state.


             To pass time, people played games like Letta, Pagade, Chaduranga etc. Compititive Sports like cockfights (Koli jooju) and buffalo races (Kambala) were indulged in for entertainment. Describing the lifestyle of people of those times, poet Chadura Chandrama in his Goamateshwara Charite writes thus: “In Karkala live very rich people who may well bid for Balabhadra’s Kundalas and Mahavishnu’s Kousthubhahara. Majestic people who were fond of food, valour, medicine and scriptural study live here. So too the Kingdom is full of humble, discriminating, pious people and those who enjoy ritual worship. Jain Shravakas earn merit for enjoyment in future incarnations by feeding munis. Life of chaste ladies comparable to pativratas like Sita & Rukmini – I have no words to describe”.


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