Jain Temples of Calicut

// July 15th, 2012 // Cultural Politics

Entrance of Calicut Jain temple, south of Valiyangadi and west of railway station. Also known as Setji Lalji Jain temple managed by the Gujrati diasporic community of Jains

The Jains who belong to the Swetambara sect from Gujarat believe that it is more than 2000 years old. According to legend the present temple was eructed at the site of an ancient Jain temple that was converted to a Hindu temple in the 9th century.  The Zamorin of Calicut returned the temple to the Jains after repeated appeals in the middle ages.  The current structure has undergone a series of modifications over the ages.

Old Jain Basati, Calicut. Returned to the Jains by the Zamorin after their appeal. Originally Jain, Hinduized in the early middle ages and returned to the Jains later.  More than 2000 years old.

M R Raghava Varier observes that the current temple shows medieval architectural and iconographic style (2012: 39).  It was built on the site of an older temple having round sanctum sanctorum and granite base.  The Calicut Jain temple is locally known as the Aryan Trikovil.  It stands in Trikovil lane.  The local name showing the regional tone also suggests its antiquity.  It is said that the relics of the old Digambara temple is still in the vaults of the current temple.  Raghava Varier adds that apart from this temple Thalapozha, north of Mananthavady alone, is associated with the Swetambara sect.

Interior of the new Jain Basati, Calicut, built by the Gujarati trading community of Swetambara Jains

Today there are two temples inside the courtyard.  One old and one new.  both have exquisite sculptures in wood and plaster.  The old temple has a treasure trove of wooden carvings.  The detailed wooden sculptures represent the iconographic connection between the Hindu and Jain temple architecture.  Saraswati and Lakshmi images are seen all over the place.  Distinct Gujarati style icons and idols are also on display.

Wood-carvings in front of the old Jain temple, Calicut

Reference

Varier, M R Raghava. 2012.  Jainamatham Keralathil.  Kottayam: N B S.

A White-rumped Munia at the Jain Temple Calicut. 14 July 2012

Link to more information

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