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Shravanbelagola

Shravanbelagola is one of the most important ancient Jain pilgrimage site, famous for its spectacular 17.5 Mt high monolithic statue of the Jain sage Bahubali (Gomateshwara).

The word ‘shravan’ or ‘shraman’ stands for ‘Jain Ascetic’ and ‘Bela kola’ means ‘white pond’; thus the name suggests a place of a white pond where Jain saints live.
Shravanbelagola is wedged between the hills of Vidyagiri and Chandragiri.  Vidyagiri is about 470m high. It is home to the 58 feet high(meter conversion) magnificent monolithic stone statue of Bahubali, the son of Jain Tirthankar Adinatha. It was erected by Chamundaraya, a general in the court of king Gangaraya of Ganga dynasty. The statue can be seen from a distance of 30km. The stark nudity of the sculpture indicates the complete renunciation and the determined body language suggest firmness and self control; set against the backdrop of the blue sky it is the epitome of the Digambara (’sky-clad’) Jain ideal. The sculptural skill evident in every detail of the statue is something to be admired.
The colossus was probably made from a block of granite rock; it is unlikely that it was hauled up the hill and it seems likely that a large rock already at the top of the hill was used to carve the figure.

The Gangas ruled from 350 - 550 CE. They substantially contributed to the architecture and culture of south Karnataka. They respected all religions, but especially patronized Jainism. This resulted in the construction of splendid structures like the Bahubali at Shravanbelagola. 
Every twelve years the Mahamastakabhisheka is celebrated; at this time Bahubali is coated in milk, saffron and powdered sandalwood and given offerings of food and precious metals. Historically, Bahubali was the second son of one hundred sons of the first Tirthankar Lord Rishab or Adinatha. The elder brother of Bahubali, Bharat, was jealous of his younger brother’s wealth, grandeur and success. He attacked Bahubali to win his land. In a hand-to-hand combat Bahubali was close  to winning the fight, when he realised the futility of killing his own brother for power and wealth. Soon after, Bahubali renounced all his wordly possessions and went into deep meditation to attain mokshe. Too late, Bharate realised his mistake and tried to bring him back.
While the Vindyagiri hill is home to the statue of Bahubali, Chandragiri is a smaller hill which has a temple built by Chamundaraya. He was a follower of Acharya Nemichandra. Approximately 47 memorials of monks and ‘shravakas’, who come here for their final Sallekhana meditation can be found here. The tomb of King Chandragupta Maurya is also in Chandragiri.
The town of Shravanbelagola displays an abundance of inscriptions in different languages. These texts can be seen in Chandragiri, Vindyagiri and in the town centre. Chandragiri alone has around 270 such inscriptions. The oldest inscription on Chandragiri dates back to the 6th century; it mentions the arrival of Bhadrabahu with his disciple, the former Mauryan King Chandragupta Maurya.
These inscriptions are in Kannada, Tamil, Marathi, Sanskrit, Marwari and Mahajani languages and date back to 600-1830 AD. Written in old Kannada these inscriptions describe the reign of the various rulers of this region. They also describe the rise of various dynasties like the Western Gangas, Hoysalas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Wodeyars of Mysore and the VijayNagar empire.
Due to empires like Gangas, Kadambas, Hoysalas and Chalukyas Jainism flourished in this region and resulted in the construction of Jain temples commonly known as Basadis or Basti. Lord Mahavira visited Karnataka in the 6th century BC and initiated Jainism. Bhadrabahu who was a pontiff of Lord Mahavira took Sallekhana (final meditation) at Chandragiri and his disciple Chandragupta Maurya also took Sallekhana here. Around 700 more saints took final meditation thus making this an important seat of Jainism.

Statue of Gomateswara:
Erected by Chavundaraya in 981 AD, this unique and colossal statue is made of fine white granite. It is about 58m tall and 26m wide and stands on a lotus flower. It is a beautiful example of the sculptural brilliance in the ancient Karnataka. The serene and peaceful expression on the statues face, graced with curly locks and its size makes it a visual treat. One has to climb more than 600 steps to reach at the top of the Vindyagiri Hill. The view from the top of the hill is stunning. At the base of this statue there are inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, as well as the earliest known evidence of written Marathi language from 981 AD. The inscriptions by Chavundaraya praise King Gangaraya for funding the construction of the statue. Mahamastakabhisheka (the head anointing ceremony) of the statue is done on a grand scale every 12 years. Thousands of devotees gather to bath the God with milk, curd, clarified butter or ghee, saffron, flowers and gold coins. This ceremony will next take place in 2018 AD.
Basadi Temples
Chavundaraya Basadi: Chavundaraya was the man behind the construction of statue of Bahubali. He was a scholar and military commander in the court of the Ganga Dynasty of Talakad. He also wrote the second oldest existing text in Kannada called Chavundaraya Purana. The ‘Basadi’ or ‘Basti’ of Chavundaraya built in the 9th century is located on Chandragiri Hill. It has plain walls with a decorated parapet. A row of sculptures of Tirthankars, Yakshas, Yakshi and Gandharvas on the Basadi are interesting. The inner sanctum has an image of Neminatha, the guru of Chavundaraya. There is a 10th century image of a Tirthankar which was made by Chavundaraya’s son. In a vestibule one can find the sculptures of Sarvahna Yaksha and Kushmandini Devi Yakshi of the Hoysala Dynasty period in 9th century. Chandragupta Basadi: This structure, erected in 9th century is named after Chandragupta. It consists of three cells standing in a row and opening on a narrow passage. The middle cell has a seated sculpture depicting Parsvanath, Padmavati and Kushmandini. It has fine towers and a standing figure of Satvahana Yaksha in its vestibule. There are 2 chequered perforated flat screens which show the carved story of incoming of Bhadrabahu with Chandragupta. Akkana Basadi: This Basadi is an example of Hoysala architecture; the main deity here is Parsvanatha. It was built in 12th century in soap stone. Bhandari Basadi: Built by the treasurer or ‘bhandari’ of Hoysala King Narasimha I in the 11th century, this is the largest Basadi in Shravanbelagola. During the Vijaynagar Empire huge structures were made around the temple which included a Manasthambha. This temple has a Bukkaraya inscription of the Vijayanagara period that talks about the conflict between Jains and Shri Vaishnavas. Other interesting Basadi Tempels include Shantinatha Basadi, Shashna Basadi, Majjigana Basadi, Kattale Basadi, Chandraprabha Basadi, Terina Basadi.
Jain Monastery
Built in 1912 AD, this was the residence of Charukeerthi Bhattarakha Swami, the head of the monastery . The main image in sanctum is Chandranatha. A statue of Yakshi Kushmandini Devi, the chief deity of Shravanbelagola can also be seen. Images of the Navadevta Bimba (the nine deities), the Panchaparameshtis, murals and many paintings make this a very interesting place.
Mahastambha
Standing in front of the Parsvanatha Basadi, this monolithic pillar is 18.2 Mt high.
Bhadrabahumani Cave
This is the place where Bhadrabahu and his disciple Chandragupta attained ‘Moksha’ (liberation). Chandragupta gave up his throne and became an ascetic follower of Jainism. Within this cave he ended his life in sallakhana - this is the religious ritual of voluntary death by fasting. Engraved in a stone slab are the feet impression of Bhadrabahu.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
HINDUSTAN AIRPORT 153 Km 02H 57m
BAJPE 219 Km 03H 50m
Mysore Airport 90 Km 01H 40m
Bangalore City Junction 138 Km 02H 36m
Hassan
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
95 Km 01H 44m
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Halebid, a Tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the ancient capital of the Hoysala Empire, whose rulers and builders were renowned for their architectural style. The ornate Hoyasaleswara temple here is a prime example of Hoysala architectural creativity and craftsmanship.
144 Km 02H 36m
Bangalore is the IT hub of India and the capital of the state of Karnataka. In Old days Bangalore used to be referred to as the garden city of India in reference to the numerous well maintained gardens and green space within the city. Wodeyers were the rulers of Karnataka, Mysore used to be the prime city and capital of the erstwhile Mysore state, and Bangalore came into prominence during the British rule. At present it has evolved as large cosmopolitan city.
216 Km 03H 48m
Nestled on the coastal edge Mangalore is beautifully fringed with coconut palms, streams, aroma of spicy coconut curries and also known for it rich heritage of temples.
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Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 22 °C 35 °C
Winter 15 °C 30 °C
Shravanabelagola experiences a tropical climate. The summer season is hot while the winter season is cool. The suitable season for coming here is between the months of October and March.
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