12th century Temple at Kamal Basti in Belgaum

Posted on 2009-02-05
Goa is blessed to have examples of both; the early architectural styled monument of the Kadambs and a monument of the later period. The temple of Shri Mahadev which was shifted from Kurdi to the plateau near the Salauli Dam is an example of early architectural style of this dynasty; whereas the temple of Shri Mahadev at Tambdi Surla is a unique example of the later period. The historic monument of Tambdi Surla can be assigned to the 13th century. It incorporates Chalukyan, Hoysal and Yaadav architecture.Most of the temples built by them appear to have been carved out from schist stone. Same is the case with the temple at Tambdi Surla. Attempts were also made by the Kadambs to use local material for carving. This is evident from the Shri Mahadev temple of Kurdi. This 10th century temple is perhaps the only documented temple in which laterite stone was used for carving. This stone was perhaps avoided later on due its softness, which makes it unsuitable for carving. Moreover laterite is also not very durable as compared to schist stone.
Belgaum is an ideal shopping centre for many Goans. But a very few of us are oblivious of an architectural wonder of the Goa Kadamb dynasty standing in the fort of Belgaum. The temple of Jain Mahavir is a monument worth admiring. The area in which the temple stands is called Kamal Basti. There are many reasons given behind this name. Some opine that it was built by the 12th century Kadamb Queen Kamaladevi whereas some opine that it is because of the of the massive lotus ceiling in the temple which gave the area that name; as Kamal means a lotus.
Whatever may be the reason behind the name, the temple was definitely built by the Goa Kadamb dynasty during the 12th century. The temple is divided into four main parts. The Rang Mandap, the Maha Mandap, the Antraalai and the Garbgrih.
Temples normally have a front porch, which enters into the main hall. But in this case the front porch is combined with the Rang Mandap. The Rang Mandap has a star shaped plinth with a huge Rang Shilaa in the centre. The Rang Shilaa is a round stone platform which was used for performances and hence the name Rang Mandap. The pillars in this Mandap are highly polished. One cannot afford to miss massive stone lotus ceiling with stone lotuses hanging in the middle. The lotuses carved out from stone hang below as if they are screwed to the roof. Looking at this ceiling one begins to wonder so as to how these marvels were created in the absence of electricity and modern tools.
The Maha Mandap too is decorated by ornate stone massive pillars. The Maha Mandap enters into the Antraalai which has a lantern shaped ceiling with lotus motifs. A stone Jaali (perforated screen) separates the Maha Mandap from the Antraalai. The lantern shaped ceiling and the stone Jaali are replicas of the ones existing in the Tambdi Surla temple. A similar stone Jaali attached to a doorway is found in Old Goa, which is mistaken to be the Gateway of Adil Shah’s palace. Various Jain deities and their consorts like Padmavati, Parshavnath etc are worshipped in the small niches in the Maha Mandap. The temple has a Shukh Naasi on the top. The Shikhar of the temple does not exist today and is said to have been destroyed during the attacks of invaders like Malik Kafur or the Bahamani Kings.
Near this temple another temple of the same era also exists. A little away from these two temples yet another stone temple is found. It is not known to which deity these two stone temples belonged to, as both their Garbgrihs do not survive today. They were probably destroyed during the Bahamani or Malik Kafur’s invasion.
So next time you go to Belgaum try to visit this ancient wonder at Kamal Basti!