Traveling in a world of pandemic is both: uneasy and uncomfortable. By my recent travels I have definitely realized that the joy of travel is not the same anymore or atleast not for now. During my years of traveling there hasn’t been a time that I have been sitting and cautiously planning the things because I HAVE TO TRAVEL. But, I realized that I had to remind myself things constantly to keep sanitizing my hands or do not touch this or do not touch that. Honestly, while I took my flight from Delhi to Bangalore, to spend sometime with my sister I could see that the scenario has changed drastically because you just cannot plan to travel impromptu or opt to go and stay everywhere. You have to be vigilant and observe social distancing. But, having said this I also feel that these things have also made us mindful towards certain situation and we have started valuing the small things even more.
Travel has definitely become a little tricky but I also feel it has made us more open to explore our backyards which otherwise has been long ignored. One day road trips have been a hit since the time the unlock has been announced, which has definitely given a kick to backyard tourism. All for good as I keep saying because we are finally getting to know our backyards. It has been a month now that I am in Bangalore and I joined the tribe to promote the backyard tourism of Karnataka
Mandaragiri Hills of Tumkur: A Digambar Jain Heritage centre
Mandaragiri hills is also famously known as Basadi Betta, which is approximately 75 kms drive from Bangalore and falls under Tumkur district of Karnataka in our very own incredible India. Its short distance makes Mandargiri hills one of the most convenient weekend destination for a quick one-day road trip from Bangalore as it takes less than two hours to reach this Digambar Jain heritage center.
Now, while I was researching on why Mandargiri hills in Tumkur has evolved as a popular Jain heritage center I got to know that it was mainly because it houses four ancient Digambar Jain temple which belonged to three different tirthankaras built between 12th & 14th century and got restored recently. These small Jain temples belonged to Bhagwan Chandranatha, Bhagwan Parshwanatha and Bhagwan Suparshwanatha. Not only this, its famous peacock or pinchi temple was built in honour of a Digambar Jain saint ShantiSagarji Maharaj who was big time into meditation. Precisely, the reason why Mandargiri is also popular pilgrimage site for Digambar Jain
A Step by Step Travel Guide to explore the Ancient Site of Mandaragiri
As I entered the complex of Mandargiri Jain temple, the first thing that I saw was Manastamb: a beautifully carved pillar like structure that you would spot almost in every Jain pilgrimage site.
Manastamb signifies that any person who is entering the holy complex of Jains is leaving behind his ahenkar (meaning the ego) aside before entering the main Jain temples. Behind the Manastamb, I spotted a little giant standing statue which is of the eighth tirthankara in Jains: Chandra Prabhu and a closer look at the statue made me remind of the statue of Bahubali in Sharavanbelagola, though much smaller in size.
Interestingly, this monolithic statue of Chandraprabhu also got carved out of a single rock, though there isn’t any story on why it was built here. This statue of Chandra Prabhu was opened up for the public in 2011
Onto the right from this statue, you are going to spot a gate which will take you to the famous peacock feather temple, a dome like setting and the main attraction of Mandaragiri in Tumkur. Peacock temple is one of its kind in the history of Jainism because it is for the first time the heritage of Jainism that such a dome has been built which is 81 feet tall and shaped like a pinchi (meaning Peacock feather). This is a reason why it is famous as the Pinchi temple of Mandargiri. People also call it Mandargiri Dhyana Mandir because this dome was built as a meditation hall much like the Aurobindo temple near to Pondicherry, though much smaller in size.
The Mydala Lake of Mandaragiri Hills, Tumkur
Mydala lake is roughly 200 m offbeat drive from the Jain temple complex but what a beautiful and peaceful place. Well, incase you are coming towards the Mydala lake my suggestion would be spend atleast an hour here. I mean the water sound and calmness of the air is very much worth it but please be vigilant with littering of the place. I mean it is perfectly fine if you want to eat and relax here but make sure to take the garbage along and dump it in a bin. I spotted heap of litter here and it actually disappointed me because it does impact the sanity of the place
The Ancient Jain Temples at Mandaragiri Hills, Tumkur
Reaching the top of Mandargiri hills would require you to climb roughly 450 steps which took me approx. 20 minutes. It was fairly easy steps but incase you suffer from knee problem; it can get a little tricky. My advice will be to avoid it. I kept the climb the last because I heard that the sunset from Mandaragiri hills is a spectacular sight and should be seen and therefore I planned to be on the top accordingly
You know on few days I do feel that the vicinity of Bangalore has got amazing sunsets as I was blessed with the one
I didn’t get to see a lot inside the main complex of Mandaragiri Hills as there was construction going on. There was only one temple that was opened for the public which belonged to Chandra Prabhu.
Entering the temple, I could see that the new constructi where I could see the statue of 8th tirthankara of Jain, that’s of Chandra prabhu. But, these are definitely the ancient temples as I could make out from the architecture of the temple which very much resembled the hysola architecture.
I guess they are making some changes to it and making it look more fancy but I am all for the ruins.
Pro Travel Tips:
- If you are planning to explore the areas around Mandaragiri, do check Cozycozy in advance, a metasearch engine which helps you with bookings and budget from across 100+ sites like Airbnb, Booking, OYO, Expedia etc
- Take the caretaker help to go inside the dome of Peacock complex. Photography is PROHIBITED HERE
- I paid a Toll of Rs. 35/- from Bangalore to Tumkur and back
- Carry your own food and water as there isn’t any option of eating near to Mandaragiri Hills. There are eating joints 20 minutes drive from here but they ain’t good enough again
- Carry your socks because you would need to take your shoes off once you are inside the Jain Temple complex
- Carry Googles and sunscreen as it tends to get a little warm during the afternoon
- Parking and entry inside the Jain Temple complex are FREE
Did you visit Mandaragiri Hills ever. Do let me know in the comment section below