- Shravanabelagola- The Land of Temples
Shravanabelagola, a major pilgrimage centre for Jains, is a place
abounding with many temples of great architectural perfection. The town
is famous for its huge monolithic statue of Gommateshwara. Right at the
centre of the town is a beautiful pond. The name of the town itself has
reference to the pond - bel (white) and gola (pond).
The temples are located on two hills- Chandragiri and Indragiri. Most of the temples in Chandragiri follow the Dravidian style of architecture and are enclosed within a wall. Indragiri has a long flight of steps leading to its summit. As you go up the hill, you will come across Indragiris share of Basadis.
Shravanabelagola has played an important role in the spread of Jainism in South India. The inscriptions which have been found here date back to as far as 1000 A.D, i.e. during the first settlement of Jains here. The inscriptions speak of the rise and the fall of the Ganga kings, the Hoysala kingdom, about the Vijayanagar Empire and the Mysore Royal house. Shravanabelagola also has made its own share of contributions to the Kannada language and literature. Under the patronage of the Gangas of Talakad, Shravanabelagola reached the peak of its glory.
The Gommateashvara statue, tall and serene, rises to a height of 18 m
and is reputed to be the tallest in Asia which has been built in a
single stone. The statue, which stands on the Indragiri hill, has vines
and creepers carved on it. The saint is said to have been so engrossed
in meditation that he never noticed the creepers. Once in 12 years,
thousands of devotees gather here to celebrate Mahamastakabhisheka, a
festival of gargantuan proportions. Ghee, curd, milk, tumeric paste,
etc., are poured over the statue in large quantities, covering it from
top to toe.
The two Chauri bearers, standing on either side of the statue are perfections in sculpture. Another spectacle here is the set of five saraswathis facing the statue. Each is in a different position, one holding a veena, another in a standing position and so on. The figures depict two yakshas, a male and a female, richly decorated with intricate carvings. Right opposite to the statue is the Tyagada Brahmadeva pillar, on which is carved four creepers emerging from the cubical base. Each creeper has a beautiful flower or leaf at the centre. There are inscriptions covering the base of the pillar, which tell stories of the expeditions of Chamundaraya.
The Chandragupta Basadi is the smallest temple but contains the most beautiful of carvings. A sight worth a visit here is the huge ornate doorway which has perforated screens made of stone on its sides. The intricate carvings depict scenes from the lives of the Kings of yore. The figures of Parshwanatha, Padmavathi and Kushmandini can all be found in the inner sanctum. The outer walls of the structure also contain a variety of carvings and figures.
- Best Time To Visit
Between October and March.
- How to Reach
Bangalore airport is the nearest airport.
Hassan station is the nearest station. Regular trains run to Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore.
12 km to the south of the Bangalore - Mangalore road (NH-48).