The statue of Gommaṭteśvara Bahubali dated 978-993
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Shravanabelagola (Kannada:ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ Śravaṇa Beḷagoḷa) is a city located near Channarayapatna of Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka and is 158 km from Bengaluru, the capital of the state. The Gommateshwara statue at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important tirthas (pilgrimage destinations) in Jainism, one that reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Western Ganga dynasty of Talakad. Chandragupta Maurya is said to have died here in 298 BCE after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.
Shravanabelagola is located at 12 km to the south-east of Channarayapatna in the Channarayapatna taluk of Hassan district of Karnataka. It is at a distance of 51 km south-east of Hassan, Karnataka, the district centre. It is situated at a distance of 12 km to the south from the Bangalore-Mangalore road (NH-48), 17 km from Hirisave, 78 km from Halebidu, 89 km from Belur, 83 km from Mysuru, 158 km from Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka and 233 km from Mangalore.
Shravanabelagola "White Pond of the Shravana" is named with reference to the colossal image of Gommaṭa - the prefix Śravaṇa serves to distinguish it from other Belagolas with the prefixes Hale- and Kodi-, while Beḷagoḷa "white pond" is an allusion to the pond in the middle of the town. The Sanskrit equivalents Śvetasarovara, Dhavalasarovara and Dhavalasarasa used in the inscriptions that support this meaning.
Some inscriptions mention the name of the place as Beḷguḷa, which has given rise to another derivation from the plant Solanum ferox (hairy-fruited eggplant). This derivation is in allusion to a tradition which says that a pious old woman completely anointed the colossal image with the milk brought by her in a gullakayi or eggplant. The place is also designated as Devara Beḷgoḷa "White Pond of the God" and Gommaṭapuram "city of Gommaṭa" in some epigraphs.
Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. Acharya Bhadrabahu and his pupil Chandragupta Maurya are believed to have meditated there. Chandragupta Basadi, which was dedicated to Chandragupta Maurya, was originally built there by Ashoka in the third century BC. Chandragiri also has memorials to numerous monks and Śrāvakas who have meditated there since the fifth century AD, including the last king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta. Chandragiri also has a famous temple built by Chavundaraya.
The 58-feet tall monolithic statue of Gommateshwara is located on Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic statue. The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Prakrutha i.e. Devanagari script, dating from 981 AD. The inscription praises the king who funded the effort and his general, Chavundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with Water, Turmeric, Rice flour, Sugar cane juice, Sandalwood paste, saffron, and gold and silver flowers. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018. The statue is referred to as Gommateshwara by Kannadigas, but the Jains refer to the same as "Bahubali".
More than 800 inscriptions have been found at Shravanabelagola, dating to various times from 600 AD to 1830 AD. A large number of these are found in the Chandragiri and the rest can be seen in the Vindhyagiri Hill and the town. Most of the inscriptions at the Chandragiri date back before the 10th century. These inscriptions include texts in the Kannada. The second volume of Epigraphia Carnatica, written by B. Lewis Rice, is dedicated to the inscriptions found here. It is said to be the oldest Konkani inscription. The inscriptions are written in Purvahalagannada (Ancient Kannada) and Halegannada (Old Kannada) characters. Some of these inscriptions mention the rise and growth in power of the Western Ganga Dynasty, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysala Empire, the Vijayanagara Empire and the Wodeyar dynasty. These inscriptions have helped modern scholars to understand the nature and development of the Kannada language and its literature.
2. Chandragupta basadi: This was established in 9th century. The middle cell of this temple has the figure of Parshvanatha, the one to the right the figure of Padmavathi and the one to the left the figure of Kushmandini, all in a seated posture.
3. Shantinatha Basadi:This temple is dedicated to Shantinatha. It was built around 1200 A.D.
4. Parshwanatha Basadi: This is a beautiful structure with decorated outer walls. The image of Parshwanatha is the tallest on the hill which is 18 feet in height. The manastambha (pillar) is sculptured on all four sides which contains the figure of Padmavathi on the south, Yaksha on the east, seated Kushmandini on the north and a galloping horseman on the west. The pillars in the navaranga are of round Ganga type with bell, vase and wheel mouldings.
5. Kattlae Basadi: This is situated to the left of Parshwanatha Basadi and in fact this is the biggest of all the Basadis on this hill. Kattlae Basadi has first Jain Tirthankara Rishabhnatha as main deity of the temple. Here one finds the image of Adinatha Thirthankara and also of Pampavathi in the Kaisale.
6. Chandraprabha Basadi: It is dedicated to the worship of the 8th Tirthankara, Chandraprabha. The images of Shyama and Jwalamalini, Yaksha and Yakshi are to be found.The basadi is a brick structure raised over a stone base. This temple might be one of the oldest on the hill and its date would be about 800 A.D. It is said to have been constructed by the Ganga King Shivamara II.
7. Suparshwanatha Basadi: Seven headed serpent is carved over the head of the Suparshvanatha image.
8. Chamundarayaraya basadi: is the finest and one of the largest temples on the hill. It is also known as Chavundaraya Basadi. It is dedicated to Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara. The sukhanasi consists of good figures of Sarvahna and Kushmandini, the yaksha and yakshi of Neminatha. It is dated back to 982 A.D.
Other notable things
Shravanabelagola is the seat of the ancient Bhattaraka Matha, belonging to the Desiya Gana lineage of Mula Sangh, from the Digambara monastic tradition. The Bhattarakas are all named Charukeerti. Bahubali College of Engineering is an educational institute at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa.
- Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji, pontiff of the Shravanabelagola Jain Mutt
- S V Bhaskrachar, prominent leader
This photograph of Chandragiri Hill and Tank at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa, taken in the 1890s by an unknown photographer, is from the Curzon Collection's "Souvenir of Mysore" Album
Old Kannada inscription at the base of the Gomateshwara monolith in Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa (981 AD Western Ganga Dynasty)
The steps leading to the summit of Vindhyagiri
Bharatha Statue at Shravanabelagola
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- Vir Sanghvi, "Rude Travel: Down The Sages", Hindustan Times
- Sangave 2001, p. 204.
- S. Settar, Inviting Death: Historical experiments on sepulchral hill, Karnatak University, Dharwar, 1986
- "Delegates enjoy a slice of history at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa", The Hindu, Chennai, Staff Correspondent, 1 January 2006
- Introduction in Epigraphia Carnatica Vol.2 Institute of Kannada Studies, Mysore, 1972.
- "And India's 7 wonders are", The Times Of India, 5 August 2007
- Karnataka State Gazetteer 1983
- Rice, B. Lewis (1889), Inscriptions at Sravana Belgola: a chief seat of the Jains, (Archaeological Survey of Mysore), Bangalore: Mysore Govt. Central Press
- Sangave, Vilas Adinath (2001), Facets of Jainology: Selected Research Papers on Jain Society, Religion, and Culture, Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7154-839-2
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