The Hassan district in Karnataka is famous for its innumerable temples that attract tourists from all over the world. The Shravanabelagola temple is a holy place for the Jains and is world renowned for the majesty of Lord Gomatheeswara towering over everything around. It is one of the holiest places for the Jain community attracting millions of devotees annually.
Read: Varanga – A Picturesque Stop on the Jain Pilgrim Trail
Shravanabelagola – Overview
The word Shravanabelagola literally means ‘the white pond of Sravana’ as ‘bel’ means white and ‘kola’ means pond in Kannada. There is a beautiful pond in the town, true to its name. Another legend has it that the name was due to an old woman who poured the milk she had carried in a ‘gullakayi’ over the deity anointing him every day. Now the image of Lord Gomatheeswara being anointed with milk is a world-famous sight.
Shravanabelagola – History
There are two hills Chandragiri and Vindyagiri making up the area. Chandragupta Maurya is reputed to have stayed there with his mentor and the temple there dedicated to him was built by Emperor Ashoka in the third century B.C. There are plenty of monuments and shrines dedicated to other sanyasis and saints in Chandragiri.
The statue of Lord Gomatheeswara, built by Chandrayana of the Gangas is in Vindyagiri. The verdant greenery and calm crystal clear waters of the ponds that have attracted hundreds of monks to seek this sanctuary to meditate have helped to make this place truly a ‘tapobhumi’ where people come to get deliverance.
Shravanabelagola – Architecture
The Shravanabelagola Gomatheeswara statue is the largest monolithic idol in the world. It spans centuries with different ruling dynasties and kings adding their own contributions and so is a living historical evidence of the last millennia. Historians describe the idol of the Lord as both magnificent and munificent – both beautiful and graceful, breathtaking yet serene.
It is this impossible combination of beauty and serenity that gives the Shravanabelagola its unique appeal. Standing 57 feet tall, the Lord is a beacon for the world-weary who flock here to shed their worldly burdens and to embrace a life of peace and ahimsa, meaning non-violence.
Shravanabelagola – Religious Significance
Bahubali, as the Jains call Lord Gomatheeswara, offers the path to eternal happiness by helping man live a life attuned to the natural world around him and not causing any harm to any living being. The Jains believe that Bahubali is endowed with great qualities that inspire renunciation, enlightenment and to attain salvation.
Every twelve years Jains from all over the world converge for the Mahamastakabhisekha in which the Lord is adorned with thousands of litres of milk, curds, and ghee, saffron and gold coins. The last one was in 2006 and so the next will be held in 2018.
How to get to Shravanabelagola
Shravanabelagola is situated in the beautiful district of Hassan amidst verdant greenery and surrounded by serene ponds. It is about 12 kilometers from the Bangalore – Mangalore highway, NH 48 and at a distance of almost 160 kilometers from Bangalore. It is very well connected by rail and road and offers a pleasant drive from the city on a weekend. You can visit this spot throughout the year.
Shravanabelagola – Facts
Recently in a nation-wide poll, Shravanabelagola was voted as the first of the Seven Wonders of India.