Striving to conserve history- Vinod Doddanavar’s relentless work towards ancient temple restoration

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First Published on: Aug 5, 2013

Mr. Vinod Doddanavar son of Late Shri. Komalanna Doddanavar – senior Congress Leader. Educated in the Rashtriya Military School, Belagavi/St.Paul’s School and then KLE for B. Pharm, later at Govt. college of Pharmacy, Bangalore for his M. Pharm. Degree. Vinod is a trained pharmacist and has worked for Astra Zeneca in the R & D dept. along with Dr. Sune Bergstrom, the Nobel Laureate, as well as taught at PESIT.

He has read Jain literature extensively and has a huge collection of rare Jain scriptures, including some from the Bharatiya Dnyanapith. His area of special study is Jain philosophy, Archaeology, Ancient Indian History with special reference to the Rattas, Silahars, Satvahanas, etc. among others. He has initiated the restoration process of various dilapidated Jain temples in Karnataka and is seeking the help of professionals for this. His knowledge about Indian and Karnataka history is exemplary. He is the office bearer of many Jain Organisations ( some of them actively functional in Temple restoration) and works for the same. He is also the Chairman of the Governing Council of Bharatesh Global Business School( MBA), and under his tutelage, the institute has pioneered many innovative practices. )

vinod-doddannavarHe follows music and movies, even the latest ones and is a keen football enthusiast, even played the game at the school and college level.

Vinod spoke to AAB about his career and his future plans:

Tell us something about your growing years?

My early schooling happened in St. Paul’s high school and subsequently from std. 6th in Belagavi Military School. I was lucky to be educated in one of the best schools. The school routine was eventful since the students were kept busy in one or the other activities from 6.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. Special emphasis was laid on building the personality of students with a range of extra- curricular activities and sports. The day began with physical training with a 3-5 km. jog, followed by assembly with prayer, news-reading and speech by students, talk by the principal and followed by classes, self-study in the afternoons with break for games. We had inter-house competitions in debate, poetry, extempore speech, dramatics and sports was a weekly affair. Movies were screened every fortnight. The campus of 100 acres had student strength of 300 and teaching staff of about 30, more than 50 members of support staff. The focus of the students was to qualify for the UPSC and enter the National Defence Academy. The entire school was like a big family. There was a huge dining hall which accommodated the 300 students. I, inspite of being a local, preferred to stay in the boarding. I miss the beautiful cantonment area. I am saddened that the current curriculum is far away from what we did in school.

How did you opt for an education in Pharmacy?

My family was in the business of timber, mining, extraction of essential oils like Eucalyptus, Citriodora ( Nilgiri), Lemongrass, Citronella, etc. These oils were further synthesized into a number of organic chemicals which we used to manufacture perfumes. The process to manufacture these perfumes was highly technical and confidential. Pharmacy and Chemistry are inter-related, hence it was felt that Pharmacy would be the best choice of career.

Joining the School of Pharmacy of the J. N. Medical College opened up a new horizon. The rigid curriculum set my Dr. F. V. Manvi and the staff kept us on our toes. The syllabus being very tough, lead to a large number of failures. Due to strong academic base, at the undergraduate level, the post graduate course was quite easy at the Govt. College of Pharmacy, Bangalore. Before the completion of my PG in Pharmacy, I was selected by Astra IDL ( Astra Xeneca). It was possible because most of the managers in the company were alumni of the Govt. college of Pharmacy and the reference of my guide Mrs. S. P. Thampi helped.
My guide and her husband Dr. P. P. Thampi were highly respected personalities in the field of Pharmacy education. Astra IDL was a subsidiary of Astra Sweden, an MNC. The company has a strong R& D base with numerous discoveries and patents. It has discovered Lignocaine (a local anesthetic), Terbutaline ( Anti-asthmatic), Metaprolol ( an anti-hypertensive), Omeprazol
( Anti -Ulcer ) and many other drugs and drug delivery systems. Dr. Sune Bergstrom, A Nobel Laureate was a regular visitor to the Bangalore plant. I was in the R& D Dept. and a part of the team working with Dr. Bergstrom. Here I was exposed to the stringent quality norms of Astra and USFDA. There was a common saying in Astra that quality has to be built in the product, it can’t be evaluated.

How was the business scene like in Belagavi when you joined your family business?
Our family’s traditional business was Timber and mining of iron ore. The business operations were spread across many places like Gadag, Karwar, Sirsi, etc. It was a routine practice to accompany our father to these places during vacations. My elder brother, who was a role model for many, is a mechanical engineer from NIT Suratkal. He was instrumental in diversifying from our traditional business to manufacture of chemicals. Many reactors and equipment were self-designed and it was probably among the few chemical plants to manufacture Paracetamol from Benzene in a single location. The liberalization of economy with drastic reduction in customs duty, made the process unviable due to cheaper imports and entire efforts of more than 15 years was wiped out. We were very lucky to have diversified into construction, contracts and logistics due to the efforts of Rajeev, my second brother. That was how we could overcome our setbacks in the chemical business.

What made you interested in Jain Philosophy and Jain Archaeology?
Kamal Basti has always kindled my curiosity in Archaelogy. Accompanying my father during his business tours took me to many places of archaeological importance. An article on Kamal Basti of 1924 written by my grandfather was a historical record of the temple. It inspired me to do a little research in finding the Epigraphic records. This lead to two inscriptions on the Kamal Basti in the London Museum. The visit to Belagavi by the Jain Saint Poojya Tarunsagarji Maharaj inspired many young Jains towards Jain philosophy. The philosophy says of worshipping a character and not an individual.

What is the nature of your work on the restoration of Jain temples in Karnataka?
Karnataka is a land of rich history where many important dynasties ruled. Every region of Karnataka has got beautiful carved temples, idols, inscriptions, etc. Many such monuments are lying unattended or are destroyed by the locals. A group of my friends decided to conduct a survey of the ancient temples in Belagavi district only. We happened to see a few temples but were shaken to find many temples in ruins in almost all the talukas of Belagavi.
Some of them were at Halasi (Protected by ASI, reminds one of the Greek Monuments), Degaon
( ASI), Degaloli (A beautiful temple, almost in ruins, just 3 to 4 kms from Kittur), Bailhongal , Inchal, Nesargi, Vakkund (an island in the backwaters of the Malaprabha dam, 5 kms from bailhongal, has ruins of ancient temples). The Dolmens of Kannur, Gokak, which are of pre-historic times, Sankeshwar, Ammangi. Another interesting place to visit is Ibrampur near Chandgad in Maharashtra which has 2 Jain and 2 Hindu temples which are in ruins. They have a unique architecture like that seen at the Khajuraho temples.

Two temples are presently under restoration due to our efforts – A). A 1000 year old Jain temple at Halasi by the dept. of archeology, Govt. of Karnataka and B). A 500 year old Jain temple at Beniwad, Hukkeri taluka by Sri Dharmasthal Manjunath Trust at an estimated cost of more than Rs. 20 lakhs.

The British have very carefully and tirelessly documented our ancient inscriptions and texts. The quantum of historic research has decreased of late. Lots of historic facts are coming out every day like the ancient civilization of the Satavahanas at Old Belagavi ( Vadgaon), finding of pottery, jewelry dating more than 2500 years old presently at KUD, The Halasi remains, the Dolmens at Kannur, Halingalgi near Jamkhandi. The influence of Silaharas, Rattas, Chalukyas, etc. comes to light every day in some or the other forms. There is lots of scope for research enthusiasts.

Various temples restored
Various temples restored

What are your future plans and what would be your contribution to the field of education?
The present generation students are influenced by the Mobile/ Internet and TVs. This has taken them away from the studies and moral standards in society are going down. Respect for parents, elders and teachers is decreasing. To improve the performance of the students, the following activities are planned-

  1. Inculcating moral values by taking moral classes

  2. Career guidance programme for the school students with preparation for competitive exams from std. 8th

  3. Soft skill development programmes and computer education for school children.

  4. Skill development programmes for school dropouts similar to JOC/ ITI

8 thoughts on “Striving to conserve history- Vinod Doddanavar’s relentless work towards ancient temple restoration”

  1. Hats off to you Vinod very few persons like you have identified the jewel value of ancient rich cultural history of Belgaum, another Belguamite I would like to commend his effort is Brhamanand chipre in this feild

  2. You aren’t Jain, still preserving the Jain Chaitya(Statues) and Chaityalyas/Mandir(Temples), this sounds fabulous. Jain Texts mentions that a person who work for restoration of one Ancient Temple has done a work equal to Building 1000 New Temples. In next birth, you’ll surely born as a Jain. I am happy to read it and I always use to worry on such matters. But, your work has inspired me to contribute my time, money and efforts.

  3. Dear Vinod,

    I remember you as a young boy of King George when I used to come to your place sometimes and more often at your cousin Meena’s place. Good to see you and happy to know about your success both professionally and culturally.
    I hold hold special respect for your father “Komalanna” as we used to refer and of course lot of my school holidays were spent visiting/cycling to Kamal Basti.

    Best Wishes,

    Dr. Neeta Baporikar

  4. Dear Vinod,
    Evers since we stayed together at MTJain Hostel , Meet a Human, Soft Spoken, Humble, Kind for Everyone & Educated to Peruse Master Degree M.Phrma.
    you being from family Business Empire & preferred to stay in such premises with one water tap for whole Hostel, Only Two Bath space Stone Mounted sitting, Open from bottom & top with No Latch.
    In Brief, Knowing you with Gentleman Nature at that age can made me proud that Such Human Exist in Society where Religion counts not money. Feel Proud to acknowledge our days in 90’s & still, The path you opted for Religion. Jai Jinendra.

  5. Thank you for this excellent background on Sri Vinod Doddanavar. I was touched by his words of appreciation after the screening of “Music for a Goddess” at Bharatesh University for INTACH-Belagavi Chapter. If the songs of Renuka-Yellamma can be incorporated into Belagavi’s educational offerings, it would be my honor to participate in the process. Yours, Amy Catlin Ph.D., UCLA Ethnomusicology Department, USA.


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