Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Visit to Shravanabelagola

Last month, we decided to visit Shravanabelagola, a famous Jain pilgrim centre, in Karnataka, South India. It is situated 160 kms away from Bangalore. Early morning our tourist bus left Bangalore city and reached the first destination Shravanabelagola, a small town at Hassan District, after about 3 hours of travel. Sravanabelagola is famous for the huge statue of Bahubali, standingatop the Chandragiri hills. One can spot this spot from a distance because of this magnificent statue. It is believed that Bahubali, also called as Gomatheswara, quarreled over their inheritance with his elder brother and nearly killed him. Later on, he repented for his action and meditated to achieve moksha (salvation) here.

(View from the top of the Hill)

(Temple on the top)


The town is located in between two lofty hills, named Vindyagiri and Chandragiri. The landscape around this place is greener and fertile looking. From the top of the hill one can see a huge pond in the centre, which is called 'belagola' and hence this town got the name.

This structure dated 978 to 993 A.D, with a height of 57 feet, carved out of one single stone, is one of the largest monolithic statues in the world, standing as a symbol of renunciation, calm and peaceful. To get a closerlook of this statue one has to climb about 700 steps, cut out in the rocks, to reach atop the hill. After a few hundred steps we reach the dharamshalas or resting places. For those who cannot climb can hire a palanquin to be carried up and down, for a reasonable charge.

Since it is a temple footwears are not allowed, and one has to leave the footwears before climbing the hills. The stepsare provided with handrails on both sides to make climbing easier. Apart from this temple, about 15 other Jain temples are also there. The main temple was built by the great emperor Chandragupta Maurya, when he came here with his guru in search of peace, towards the end of his life.

There is the Brahmadevaru temple atop the hill. Besides there are the Chowwisa Thirthankara Basadi, Chennana Basadi, Odegal Basadi, Tyagada Brahmadevaru Kambha, Akhanda Bagilu and Gullakayajji. The most important monument is the image of Sri Gomateshwara. Totally, there are more than 500 inscriptions.

Every twelve years, the small town Sravanabelagola comes alive for the grand festival called Mahamastakabhisheka,which attracts huge number of devotees from all over the world, which lasts for several days. During that time the statue is bathed by pots or kalashas of holy water, ghee, milk, coconut water and haldi. The priests climb a specially erected ladder structure to bathe the statue. The last ceremony was held in February 2006, and the next one will be in the year 2018.Flower petals, sandalwood powder and turmeric powder is offered by devotees. The most awaited part of the festival comes at the end when the statue is showered with flowers.

Reaching there: There are frequent bus services between Bangalore and Hassan. Good hotels are available in Hassan.

1 comment:

Ricky Peterson said...

Wow, nice information. Gomateshwara is the tallest statue in the world. Dedicated to Lord Bahubali, located in Shravanabelagola. Shravanabelagola is a very important for pilgrimage and religion for centuries. Very nice view of the statue during the festival of Mahamastakabhishekam which is held once in 12 years. For more details refer Gomateshwara