Karnataka has got several interesting places to see which are historically and culturally important. One of these places is the statue of Jain saint Bahubali in Shravanabelagola. After a tiring day covering the temples in Belur and Halebid, we reached Bahubali statue at Vindyagiri hills in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka. As we got down from the taxi and walked ahead, we saw in front of us, an imposing statue of the Jain deity Bahubali and winding steps to reach the top. I wondered how I would manage to climb so many steps (nearly 500). However, my husband and son prodded and urged me to climb. So, we all began the climb. Really, it was not so difficult and worth the view that we got of the surroundings once we reached the top. There are two hills called vindyagiri or Indragiri and Chandragiri in Shravanabelagola and the statue is on vindyagiri hills with a pond in between.
How to reach Shravanabelagola
The distance from Bangalore to sharavanabelagola by road is 143 KM. As there is no direct communication between the two, the easy option is to reach by taxi. Or we can take the bus Basava express from Bangalore to Pandavapura and from there take a taxi to sharavnabelagola.
We can also reach Sharavanabelagola from Hassan which is 200 KM from Bangalore and is like a center point as it is closer to other attractions like Belur and Halebid temples. Again, there is no direct link from these places to Shravanabelagola. But we can take a taxi or Dwaraka Mysore expresses from Hassan to reach Mandagere and then take a taxi to reach Shravanabelagola. Distance from Hassan to Sharavanabelagola by road is about 53 KM.
What to see in Shravanabelagola
It is a small town where the famous statue of Jain saint Bahubali is situated. It has been built from a single block of granite and hence is monolithic. It was commissioned by Chavundaraya, who was the Prime Minister and also commander in Chief of the Ganga Kingdom. Built-in 10th Century A.D, the statue is 57 foot tall. It is dedicated to the Jain deity, Lord Gommateshwara, who is also known as Bahubali. Facing North, the statue is in a straight standing meditative posture with both his hands on his sides. Marked by curly hair, open eyes, serene face, and long earlobes, he is a personification of someone who has renounced all materialistic things of the world. An anthill is depicted at the base of the statue and creepers and plants cover his arms and legs flowering as they reach the top. The main entrance to the temple is very imposing. Many images of Jain Tirthankaras have been sculpted on panels. We get a panoramic view of the surrounding town from atop the hill. One feels at peace with oneself having traveled quite a distance.
Before we reach the top, on the way, we come across several shrines such as Odegal Basadi which is a 14th-century Jain temple. Beautiful statues of Tirthankaras are housed inside the temple.
Who was saint Bahubali?
It would be interesting to know the legend behind the saint Bahubali. He was the son of Rishabananda and the younger brother of Bharatha. When Rishabnanda decided to become a monk, his kingdom was distributed among his sons. Finally, combat ensued between the two brothers Bahubali and Bharata which Bahubali won. However, as it happens, he was filled with disgust and decided to renounce the world and become a Digambara monk. He is said to have mediated in a standing posture for a year as creepers grew around his legs and arms. After a year of mediation, he is said to have attained salvation.
The Mahamastakabhisheka festival is held once in 12 years when the statue is anointed with water, Sugarcane Juice, milk, and saffron.
Places to see in and nearby Shravanabelagola
In Shravanabelagola itself, we can visit Chamundaraya Basadi dedicated to lord Neminatha on Chandragiri hills, Bhandara Basadi which is about 300KM from the Vindiyagiri hills, Agregal Basadi, about 2.5 Km from Bahubali statue, Chandragupta basadi,1.5 KM from Bahubali temple, chennanna Basadi and sidhara basadi. on Vindyagiri hills We went to see the statue after visiting Belur and Halebid temples which are also in Hassan district.