places / karnataka

Shravana Belagola

Peace in mind and calm at heart!

A historic town and a very important Jain pilgrim centre, Shravanabelagola is located in Hassan district, about 155 km away from Bangalore. The image that almost all who know or have heard a little about this Jain pilgrim destination would visualise the 57-foot monolith statue of Gommateshwara or also popularly known as Bahubali, standing tall atop a hill! The place is characterised by two popular hills namely, Vindhyagiri, where the Bahubali statue can be seen and the other being the Chandragiri, where again there are Jain shrines and memorials to the monks and Sravakas.

A perfect weekend trip destination this combined with the other two most popular travel destinations Belur and Halebeedu closeby, Shravanabelagola is a must visit a place.  Picturesque view of the verdant natural beauty of the town, the swaying tall coconut trees and the pond (bela gola – White pond) around which the town is named, is unmissable. The place sees travellers of all ages visiting the temple and offering their prayers. 

Carved out of a single rock, this much-admired sculpture of Bahubali is considered one of the 7 wonders of India.  Bhagwan Bahubali,  the son of the first of twenty-four Jain Tirthankaras, is revered and worshipped by the Jain community. He is believed to have given up all the worldly pleasures and stood in meditation to achieve self-restraint and complete dominance of ego by renunciation and attain salvation! The Digambara (nude) form is a characteristic feature of Jain tradition which symbolises one’s dominance over the earthly desires, attachments and acquisitions.

The day you become humble is the day you become successful~Naveen Jain

Home to over 2,300 years of Jain heritage, history mentions that under the patronage of Western Ganga dynasty of Talakad, Shravana Belagola had reached its peak in architectural and sculptural activity. The statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya.  It is of a popular belief that Acharya Bhadrabahu and his pupil Chandragupta Maurya have meditated on those hills of Shravanabelagola. 

It is captivating to find some inscriptions in  Purvahalagannada (Ancient Kannada) and Halegannada (Old Kannada) across the hilly terrain as one walks up the 700 steps to reach the peak of the Vindhyagiri as well as in the shrine complex of Chandragiri. Yet another feature of jain art that one comes across in front of all the basadis in this place is the sthambha, the free-standing pillar.   Elegantly carved out of granite, these stambhas portray the figures of Brahmanical gods and the faith of Jains.

The grandest of the events at this place has to be the Mahamastakabhisheka! It is the head anointing ceremony of this colossal statue of Bhagwan Bahubali which is held once every 12 years.

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