The Bahubali and Other Treasures of Aretippur

A author revels within the artwork of a forgotten time at an lively archaeological web site in Karnataka.



The typical format of the basadis at Aretippur present a sanctum sanctorum within the centre of an oblong mantapa. Photo by: Akhila Udayashankar

Last December, a good friend working in heritage conservation requested me if I want to see an lively archaeological web site. Having by no means visited an lively web site earlier than, I readily agreed however when she stated it’s near the city of Maddur, about 80 kilometres from Bengaluru, the cynic in me questioned what variety of archaeological web site may exist so near town.

On a nippy winter morning, we took a cab to our vacation spot, the lively archaeological web site of Aretippur, about 10 kilometres southeast of Maddur. While my good friend was catching up on sleep, I imagined an Indiana Jones-like expertise forward of us.

Driving previous lush paddy fields, just a few kilometres off the freeway, we realised our smartphone GPS was not working and needed to interrupt a jolly good aged man’s stroll to investigate concerning the route. He identified that we have been announcing the identify of the place mistaken and confirmed us the fitting route. We’d been following the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) nomenclature, which says “Aratipura,” however locals understand it as Aretippur.

Stacks of winter harvest crowded the roads and our driver appeared to take pleasure in driving over them; apparently the strain helps in threshing the grains. After just a few detours by way of smaller lanes, we arrived at a small hillock, the place two males, appointed as caretakers by ASI, greeted us.

Aretippur 1

Many of the carvings point out that the pond at Kanakagiri might need as soon as been a sacred waterbody. Photo by: Akhila Udayashankar

We parked below the shade of a big tree throughout a pond full of lotus blooms on the foot of the hill overlooking the Aretippur village. The setting gave the impression to be straight out of Malgudi Days: sheep roamed the roads lined by tile-roofed houses, a bullock cart weighed down with harvest stood close to the pond whereas the farmer took a break; there was an abundance of inexperienced.

A brief climb up, the Aretippur Jain Site is uncommon in its setting on a hillock, half of the Kanakagiri hills. Research performed earlier than 2015, when the scientific clearance venture was initiated, indicated the presence of a Jain web site from the Ganga and Hoysala intervals between roughly ninth and twelfth centuries. The signage talked about that no less than 12 Jain basadis or shrines have been found at Kanakagiri, which at one time was nothing greater than mounds of mud. Now it’s flanked by the village on one facet and sprawling agricultural land on the opposite.

All the 12 temples unearthed on the web site encompass a tree, the deities going through it as if in reverence. Of these, the sooner Ganga interval temples (about ninth to eleventh centuries) have been constructed with bricks whereas the later Hoysala interval (about 11th-14th centuries) used each brick and stone as constructing materials. Although what as soon as would have been intricately embellished roofs are actually lacking from these temples, the foundations fashioned with alternating layers of 1,000-year-old moulded brick and stone are clearly seen. Deep sockets within the mud ground point out that picket pillars initially supported the construction.

Outside of the discoveries, the location itself was an attention-grabbing research. Trenches remoted every discover, that are an interesting testimony to the affected person, tedious nature of an archaeologist’s work. The work right here at Aretippur has been occurring for over two years now, steadily revealing an beautiful advanced of Jain basadis from a mound of mud and particles. My good friend talked about that many of the sculptures, which are actually documented and saved on-site have been, the truth is, discovered strewn concerning the hillside.

Of the various finds at Aretippur, one of crucial was a 13th-century inscription in an archaic kind of Kannada, which paperwork the existence of Jain temples on the Kanakagiri hill and is the first supply of data for the archaeological web site. It additionally states how the Hoysalas below king Veer Ballal Deva used stone to rebuild these temples that primarily housed the massive granite sculptures of the primary tirthankara, Adinatha, and the 23rd, Parshwanatha.

From the very high of Kanakagiri, as we appeared down on the pond gleaming within the solar, my good friend identified to me the varied reliefs of tirthankaras carved on a rock by the waterbody. She added that many sculptures have been discovered round this pond and are actually saved in a close-by shed.

The Bahubali and Other Treasures of Aretippur

The sculptures and artefacts unearthed at Aretippurdate between ninth and twelfth centuries and are beautiful of their detailed carvings of jewelry, physique options and miniature tirthankaras. Photo by: Akhila Udayashankar

A cup of sugary tea in hand, we entered the shed and I nearly dropped my paper cup in shock. Inside have been intricately carved sculptures, many from the Hoysala interval, chiselled from schist in a design just like carvings of the well-known Chennakeshava Temple in Belur, about 200 kilometres away. An assortment of artwork stuffed the area—a uncommon sculpture of the god of wealth, Kuber; Parshawanatha standing on a throne of lions sheltered by the hood of a snake, and flanked by a yaksha and yakshi (spiritual beings meant to take care of a tirthankara); and stone pilasters with fascinating and detailed carvings of all 24 tirthankaras.

It was previous midday after we walked out of the shed and down the hill. I couldn’t assist however admire the work of archaeologists that helps unearth and protect such wonderful antiquities of our previous.

I used to be damaged away from my ideas when my good friend advised visiting the close by Shravana hill to see the well-known statue of Bahubali. After a laborious climb of a few hundred steps, we have been greeted with the sight of the 10-foot-tall stone statue. If inscriptions are to be believed, the austere statue predates its extra well-known counterpart, identified generally as Gomateshwara, in Shravanabelagola, about two hours away.

Descending the hill, we made our option to a close-by matha for lunch on the suggestion of the native caretaker we’d befriended. As he spoke about Aretippur now being promoted, I believed of the rubbish pile on the backside of Sharavana hill, hoping that the method of promotion was gradual and plastic-free. The day ended with a easy however luxurious meal of rice, sambar, sprouts and mango pickle.

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