Sharvana belgola


Shravana belagola (Śravaṇa Beḷagoḷa) is a town located near Channarayapatna of Hassan district, Karnataka and is 144 km from Bangalore, the capital of the state. The Gommateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important tirthas (pilgrimage destinations) in Jainism, one that reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Western Ganga dynasty of Talakad. Chandragupta Maurya is said to have died here in 298 BCE after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.

Shravana belagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The 58-feet tall monolithic statue of Gommateshwara is located on Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. The statue is referred to as Gommateshwara by Kannadigas, but the Jains refer to the same as “Bahubali”.

The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Prakrit i.e. Devanagari script, dating from 981 AD. The inscription praises the king who funded the effort and his general, Chavundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother.

Story behind the Shravana belagola

Bahubali or Gomateshwar was the second son of the first Tirthankara of Jains, Rishabdev or Adinath. It is said that Rishabdev had ninety nine other sons and when he left his kingdom, a big fight took place among the two of his sons, Bahubali and Bharatha for the empire. After a long fight, Bahubali defeated Bharatha but was not happy at the sourness that had come between him and his brother. Thus disenthralled, Bahubali gave the kingdom to Bharatha and went to achieve Kevala Jnana (Absolute Knowledge).

Bahubali stood in Kayotsarga (standing) posture in total meditation continuously for one year, without food and water. Ant – hills grew by the side of his legs and serpents made these ant hills as their abode and were moving around Creepers grew up entwining his legs and arms up to his shoulders He attained Kevaljnan – a perfect and complete knowledge about the Universe. Thus, he was called as Bahubali – Kevali. Gommateshwara is another name popularly in use. The joy and bliss he attained is manifested in the benign smile on the face of the colossal image consecrated by Chavundaraya.

There are number of Basadis of Jain thirthankaras of which Parshwanatha Basadi is a beautiful structure with decorated outer walls. The image of Parshwanatha is the tallest on the hill which is 18 feet in height. The manastambha (pillar) is sculptured on all four sides which contains the figure of Padmavathi on the south, Yaksha on the east, seated Kushmandini on the north and a galloping horseman on the west. The pillars in the navaranga are of round Ganga type with bell, vase and wheel mouldings.

The Chamundarayaraya basadi is the finest and one of the largest temples on the hill. It is also known as Chavundaraya Basadi. It is dedicated to Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara. The sukhanasi consists of good figures of Sarvahna and Kushmandini, the yaksha and yakshi of Neminatha. It is dated back to 982 A.D.

Chandragupta Basadi, which was dedicated to Chandragupta Maurya, was originally built here by Ashoka in the third century BC. Chandragiri also has memorials to numerous monks and Śrāvakas who have meditated there since the fifth century AD, including the last king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta. Chandragiri also has a famous temple built by Chavundaraya.

Shravana belagola is the seat of the ancient Bhattaraka Matha, belonging to the Desiya Gana lineage of Mula Sangh, from the Digambara monastic tradition. The Bhattarakas are all named Charukeerti.

Shravana belagola also hosts a very famous 12-day festive celebration called the Mahamastakabhisheka once in every twelve years. During this festival, the statue of the Bahubali is bathed with milk, curd, ghee, sugarcane juice and saffron water while devotees make offerings of turmeric powder, coconuts, flower petals and sandalwood powder. To commemorate the end of this celebration, flower petals are showered on the statute by helicopters. Special platforms are made during this celebration for devotees to climb up and pour the holy liquids using ‘Kalasas’ (Holy pitchers) on the statue of Bahubali. Distinctive bidding process is held for these Kalasas, and the collected amount is used for the development of different sections of the society. The ceremony begins with the priests pouring 1008 Kalasas over the statue.




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