Lake Temple at Varanga; a unique shrine in a picturesque surrounding
The little known Jaina temples of Varanga are within easy reach if one asks the driver of the morning bus from Humcha to Karkala to drop one at the appropriate halt at the
northern entrance of Varanga village. From the bus-stop, having left one’s luggage with the owner of the nearest tea- stall, it is but a straight walk of about a hundred metres to the east before a tall manastambha (free-standing pillar crowned by either a Jina or Brahmadeva image) and the first temple come into view, sign-posts pointing the way to the main shrine hidden behind trees at the bank of a lake.
On request, the keeper of the temple will call a pujari (temple attendant authorized to conduct pujas rites of worship) who will take one to the unique shrine in the middle of the lake. There, on that tiny islet, heavenly quietude awaits the visitor, and once more he will be taken in by that indescribable aura so typical of many Jaina holy places.
We had the good luck to meet a Jaina from Shravanabelagola who had come with his wife to his home village Varanga to see his mother and ask her to celebrate with them the name-giving ceremony of their first-born son in that homely temple in the lake. On seeing us Westerners, they spontaneously asked us to join them, which we gratefully did.
Being taken across the water in a narrow boat built from a single log and two boards, and then watching the pujari opening the doors of the four-faced inner sanctum whereby, one after the other, the contours of four standing Jinas of exquisite beauty emerged, was a fitting prelude to the following ceremony which culminated in the light-waving and mantra-chanting rites called arati and mangaldeep. A memorable day.
Ringing the bells with one’s eyes fixed on the Jina in the holiest of holies (above) concludes the child’s name-giving ceremony.
Jaina children are taught early in life to care animals and never to kill a living thing. Varanga Lake Temple after the ceremony.
Varanga. Neminatha Temple, built of stone early in the fifteeenth century, in the thatched-roof style. The torana (ornamental entrance) shows a seated Jina. The best known Jaina temple of this type is found at Karkala, 12 km to the south. The one at Varanga is the more ancient one.