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Thursday 11 April 2024

Brahma Jinalaya - A compilation

Let me take you on  quick tour of one of the most fascinating structures in Lakkhundi in Karnataka.

The Brahma Jinalaya. This early 11th century temple was one of the many fine structures that were built by Attimabbe, a devout noble woman. 

Meera and me accessed the temple from beside the Museum that holds artifacts from temples across lakkhundi. 

This restored east facing temple has the outer open mantapa, inner closed mantapa and finally the sanctum sanctorum.
Despite the heat outside, the temple was still cool. Each row of pillars in the open mantapa had a different design. These soapstone pillars can be removed and reassembled as was done during the restoration of the temple.

The entry to the inner sanctum is flanked by a grand five framed doorway. 

Each layer of the doorway is differently themed. 

One is covered with animal motifs, while another one has musicians and dancers. Another one has Nagas and Amrutha kalashas adorning the frame.

Influences of various cultures are clearly seen by the depiction of Gajalakshmi above the outer lintel and the depiction of Jain Thirtankara above the inner lintel.

A carved design almost akin to a floor mat welcomes us into the inner mantapa.

The inner closed mantapa is ventilated by a single small window and has only two prime figurines -Padhmavati on the right and Chaturmukha Brahma on the left. 

The Chaturmukha Brahma stands tall with 4 faces carved in each direction. 

The face of a young boy in the south.
The front or the east side face is of a young man and the The north side face is of a middle aged man.

The west side face was more rugged with a full beard and a mustache indicating older years. But it was too close to the wall for us to get a decent image.

The perfectly proportioned idol of Padhmavati, the epitome of beauty had a demure smile and even had holes on the side of the nose for nose rings. 

The inner mantapa also has lathe turned pillars in the center and still look incredible even after over 1000 years.

The base of these pillars are adorned with various 'sundaris' or beautiful women. 

While we were visiting another temple and were trying to get some images of these intriguing beauties, an elderly gentleman kindly informed us that people used to hold babies, who had breathing problems, with their backs pressed against these figurines.

The various groves and ridges of the carvings acted as acupressure massaging points, opening up the pathways for breathing better.

I wondered if the same was applicable for adults too, if they sat on the floor with their backs resting on these carvings.

The inner mantapa has the 22nd Tirthankara as the main deity. He is flanked on either side by attendants fanning him with a chowrie which is a traditional fan made of animal hair attached to a handle. According to our guide the entire backdrop of the chowrie holding attendants was carved out of a single stone. 

If you look carefully at the ceiling, you'll notice the lotus motifs are either of the morning, afternoon or the evening lotus. This was of the morning lotus. 

Outside the temple, seated in the glaring sun is the mark of the unfortunate effects of the war, A decapacitated yet beautiful statue of Mahavira. This was the original statue in the sanctum, Before the mutilation.

Visit the Brahma Jinalaya in Lakkhundi. It is truly a work of art. The best seasons for visiting are during late monsoon or winter.

Location map:

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