This pilgrimage centre, popularly known as ‘Jain Kashi’ with the potential to become the world’s first heritage town of Jainism, lacks basic facilities for tourists arriving in large numbers.
To address them and to get the heritage tag for the town, Jain leaders are turning to the Centre after their efforts to move the state government failed.
Vinod Jain Batliwala, national secretary of the Digambar Thirtha Kshetra Committee, said developing Moodbidri as the Jain heritage centre is among the recommendations which will be put forward by the all India Jain pilgrimage and heritage centres committee.
The town has 18 Jain basadis (temples). The Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani, popularly known as the thousand pillar basadi, is also situated in Moodbidri.
Moodbidri is a centre for higher studies in Jainism and it houses the Rama Rani Research Centre and Library which preserves the ancient Dhavala Trilogy (Dhavala, Jaya Dhavala and Maha Dhavala) scripts in palm leaves.
The Moodbidri Jain Math has already prepared a master plan with the help of architect Niren Jain for the town. It has been sent to the tourism department. But nothing has come out of it.
Jain leaders want the Centre to intervene and speed up the process since the civic development in and around Moodbidri is happening so fast that they fear it may affect the character of the heritage town, Charukirti Bhattaraka Panditacharyavarya, the swamiji of Moodbidri Jain Math, said.
The Jain community is also apprehensive of handing over many of the structures to the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) even though the Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani and a few basadis here qualify for ASI tag.
“We do not have anything against the ASI. But the Jain committee wants the structures to be in the custody of the religious heads,” the swamiji said.
“Our monuments are not just tourist places but also pilgrimage centres for Jains where daily poojas and religious practices take place. The structures should have government patronage in protection and funding while keeping the administration independent,” he said.
The decision to approach the Centre was taken in a three-day workshop on Jain Pilgrimage and Heritage places organised here recently under the aegis of Jain Math.
“In Karnataka, the Jain community has independently renovated 22 basadis with expertise from ASI. They were in Malali, Srirangapatnam, Gomatagiri, HD Kote and Mysore. But there were over 100 temples that are still in dilapidated condition in Karnataka including some in Moodbidri,” Batliwala said.
With terror threat on the rise in the country, the Tribhuvana Tilaka Chudamani committee is planning to bring it under security surveillance circuit on the lines of Buckingham Palace of London.