The statue of Gommaṭeśvara 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 Bangalore, the capital of the state. The statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali 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 13 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), 78 km from Halebidu, 89 km from Belur, 83 km from Mysore, 233 km from Mangalore, 17 km from Hirisave and 157 km from Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka.
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 Gommateshvara is located on Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue. The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Prakrutha i.e. devnagari 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 called as 'Statue of Gommateshvara' by the Kannada people of Karnataka, but the jains refer to the same as "Bahubali" .
More than 800 inscriptions have been found at Shravanabelagola, dating to various times from 600 to 1830. 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 various Halegannada (Old Kannada) and Purvahalagannada (Ancient Kannada) characters. Some of these inscriptions mention the rise and growth in power of the Western Ganga Dynasty, the Rashtrakutas, the Hoysala Empire, the Vijayanagar Empire and the Wodeyar dynasty. These inscriptions have helped modern scholars to understand the nature and development of the Kannada language and its literature.
Other notable things
Shravanabelagola is the seat of the ancient Bhattaraka Matha, belonging to the Desiya Gana lineage of Mula Sangh, from the Digambara monstic tradition. The Bhattarakas are all named Charukirti. 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
The steps leading to the summit of Vindhyagiri
Old Kannada inscription at the base of the Gomateshwara monolith in Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa (981 AD Western Ganga Dynasty)
- Vir Sanghvi, "Rude Travel: Down The Sages", Hindustan Times
- S. Settar, Inviting Death: Historical experiments on sepulchral hill, Karnatak University, Dharwar, 1986
- Staff Correspondent (Jan 1, 2006). "Delegates enjoy a slice of history at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- Introduction in Epigraphia Carnatica Vol.2 Institute of Kannada Studies, Mysore, 1972.
- "And India's 7 wonders are". The Times Of India. August 5, 2007.
- Karnataka State Gazetteer 1983
- B. Lewis Rice (1889). Inscriptions at Sravana Belgola: a chief seat of the Jains, (Archaeological Survey of Mysore). Bangalore : Mysore Govt. Central Press.
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