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Shravanabelagola – where faith and grace converge

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2012

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Shravanabelagola – where faith and grace converge

Nestled amidst two hills, Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri, is the picturesque town of Shravanabelagola. It has been one of the prime pilgrimage destinations in Jainism for more than 2,000 years. The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali is the main attraction. Carved elegantly, it is one of the architectural marvels of the world and happens to be the world’s largest monolithic sculpture. Shravanabelagola also enshrines a number of Jain temples (called Bastis or Basadis). This destination is situated about 50 km south-east of Channarayapatna in Hassan district of Karnataka State. Text and photos by ANANTH V RAO

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER:
ANANTH V RAO is an engineer by profession and a hobbyist photographer with a passion for picturing architectural grandeur as well as nature and wildlife. He was born and brought up in Hassan, Karnataka, a place known for its culture and heritage. He lives in Bangalore.

Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola got its name from the pond in the image. This pond is located between the hills Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri. Belagola translates to a white pond in Kannada and Shravana translates to Jain monk or ascetic.

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A view of Vindhyagiri, the larger of the two hills.

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The statue of Lord Bahubali on Vindhyagiri hill overlooks Vadegal Basadi in the foreground.

Shravanabelagola

The shrine of Vadegal Basadi got its name from the stone props placed against the basement. This is the only ‘Trikoota’ (triple-shrine) temple at Shravanabelagola. The three sanctums house the idols of Thirthankaras (Jain renunciates) carved in schist. This temple dates back to the 14th century and is known as Trikoota Basadi in literary works.

Shravanabelagola

Tyagada Kamba. ‘Tyaga’ in Kannada translates to sacrifice and ‘kamba” translates to pillar. This pillar was erected probably in the tenth century by the then minister Chavundaraya. He distributed gifts to the poor and needy near this pillar and hence the pillar got the name ‘Tyagada Kamba’. It is also said that Chavundaraya renounced his worldly possessions and his life near this pillar. The floral scrolls in bold lines on the pillar bring out the best of the Ganga dynasty’s workmanship.

Shravanabelagola

Gullakayajji or ‘the granny holding the eggplant’ is a five-feet-tall statue that stands opposite to the statue of Gomateshwara. The story goes that when Chavundaraya arranged for the Mahamastakabhisheka – a festival held every 12 years when, among other rituals, the gigantic idol is consecrated with milk — the milk did not descend lower than the thighs of the statue. Upon the order of his guru, Chavundaraya used the milk brought by Gullakayajji in the eggplant and performed the abhisheka.

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Entrance to the Gomateshwara statue enclosure.

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The index finger of the statue’s left hand is slightly shorter in length. Some say it was deliberately done to show that the statue was actually man-made, and not a divine creation. Another speculation is that the sculptor might have done it to show that nobody is perfect.

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A Jain sadhvi meditates at the lotus feet of Gomateshwara.

Shravanabelagola

A scenic view of Chandragiri Hill, which got its name from the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who stayed here, served and followed the path of his spiritual guru, Acharya Bhadrabahu, the eighth in the lineage of the 24 Thirthankaras.

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Entrance to the temple complex at Chandragiri.

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View of the temple complex at Chandragiri. There are a total of 14 Basadis on Chandragiri and a cave where Bhadrabahu stayed and meditated.

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The over 800 inscriptions on Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri hills are carefully protected. The first inscriptions on Chandragiri are the signatures of Chavundaraya and of the Kannada poet Ranna.

Shravanabelagola

Regular worship services are held at the Gomateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola.

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