Nestled amidst green pastures and sandalwood trees, sitting atop the Kanakagiri hill is an ancient Jain temple. The temple, dedicated to Bhagwan Parshwanatha was built by the kings of the Ganga Dynasty in the 5th or 6th century. Kings of later dynasties such as the Hoysala, Vijanagara and Wodeyar also patronised this temple. It is believed that one king worshipped Bhagwan Parshwanatha here before proceeding to a war in which he was victorious and hence he named the deity, Vijaya Parshwanatha.
The main temple is enclosed in a fort and has four main parts, namely, the mukhamantapa, the navaranga, the sukhanasi and the garbhagriha. The unique feature of this temple is it houses five main deities together – Bhagwan Parshwanatha, Padmavathi Devi, Jwalamalini Devi, Kushmandini Devi, and Kshethrapala Bramha Yaksha. The garbhagriha houses Bhagwan Parshwanatha while the sukhanasi houses the rest.
Kanakagiri is the only place among the Jain centres where Kalasarpadosha parihara pooja is performed. Numerous devotees, Jain and Hindu, throng to this place to perform this pooja. It is said that Queen Deverammanni of Mysore royal family once suffered from Kalasarpadosha and found relief on worshipping the Goddesses here. So she gave the temple an idol of the hood of snake bearing Dharanendra and Padmavathi figures which is unique and not found anywhere else. The idol is currently placed in the sukhanasi.
Kanakagiri has been mentioned in ancient Jain literature as Hemanga Desha. It is believed that Bhagwan Mahaveera visited this place during his journey to the south. There are references in history textbooks of Bhagwan Mahaveera holding a Samavarana Divya Sabha, or a meeting. There are many Jain temples nearby. Maleyuru is another place of Jain heritage. It is just 3km away from Kanakagiri and is home to Shri Adishwara Swamy Basadi. Another Adishwara Basadi is there at Harave which is also nearby.
Outside the fort enclosure are installed the foot impressions of all the twenty four Tirthankaras inside small stupas and are spread all along the hillock. The pathway leads to the top most point of the hill where a small pillar has been erected. The views from this point are amazing and the cool breeze is refreshing. There are also a few caves on the hill where Jain munis meditated.
Kanakagiri is located in Chamrajnagar District. It is about 53 km from Mysore. There is a Jain Mutt at the foot of the hill where accommodation is available with prior booking.
This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 21st October, 2014. DH Article