There are a couple of old Jain Temples in Bijapur. The oldest among them is the Mahendragiri Jain Theertha also known as Sahastrafani Parshwanath Digambar Jain Temple. The temple houses a 1500 year old idol of Parshwanatha. The black idol carved imaginatively with perfection depicts Parshwanatha sitting cross-legged in a meditative posture.  What is remarkable is that Parshwanatha is usually adorned by a five or seven headed serpent but here the serpent has 1008 hoods and hence the name Sahastrafani Parshwanatha. Even more remarkable is that all the hoods are interconnected and during abhisheka the milk poured at the central hood spreads and appears like all the 1008 hoods are showering Parshwanath with milk. Unfortunately I couldn’t witness the spectacle. The abhisheka is done at specific times on certain days. It is better to find out before hand and plan the visit accordingly.

The immaculate 1500 year old idol of Parshwanatha

The temple had fallen to ruin till a 100 years back when it was discovered but the main idol was found to be missing from the sanctum. According to the caretaker, the person supervising the excavation dreamt that the idol was nearby and he saw a cobra at a particular spot three days in a row.  The idol was then found at that spot about 6 feet below the ground and that chamber is still preserved. The temple was renovated around whatever existed of the previous one and rooms have been built for the pilgrims. Not many locals are aware of this temple and the unique idol it houses. I was told about it by the curator of the ASI museum at Gol Gumbaz. It is located on Jail Road about 6 km from the Bijapur Railway Station close to the more well-known Jail Dargah.

This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 3rd April, 2017. DHArticle


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