Shravanabelagola – Gommateshvara Bahubali

I am blessed with three elder sisters, 2 of them already visited us in the past but my middle sister never visited us. I always request her to come but she always had some reason for not taking out time to visit Bangalore. As she is married in Jain dharm, she always use to say that whenever she come she will visit Bahubaliji, and I always replied “aao to, jaha kahogi waha chalenge”. So, finally the time came and my all 3 sisters visited together in May 2013 and not to mention visiting Bahubali was the only agenda outside Bangalore, it was mandated from her mother-in-law as well, so no reason to miss it. Rest of the time they wanted to spend shopping or at home.

From wikipedia – Shravanabelagola is a city located near Channarayapatna of Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka and is 158 km from Bangalore. The statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Jainism, one that reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Western Ganga Dynasty of Talakad. Chandragupta is said to have died here in 298 BC after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style. Jainism in this place is 2000+ years old.

Bahubaliji

Bahubaliji



We planned for Saturday, 18th May, Shravanabelagola is 158KM, not too far and we can do it in a day. As it was summer time we planned leaving early in the morning. We managed to leave at 7:00 AM, not a bad time with 4 ladies and 2 kids. We took NH-4 until Neelmangla and then took Highway 48 which goes all the way to Mangalore.

Both the highways are excellent, NH-4 is a 6 lane toll highway and we have elevated road now to bypass Bangalore traffic. NH-48 is a 4 lane toll highway without much traffic. Breezing on these 2 highways, it took us about 2:30 Hrs to reach Shravanabelagola. Road had some signs for Shravanabelagola, but as it happens usually in Bangalore / Karnataka, there was no sign at the end. We realized after 3-4 KMs that we have missed the turn, asked the locals and they guided us well.

Shravanabelagola is a small town and all roads leads to Gommateshvara Bahubali temple. Their is a small market and few restaurants near temple. We parked the car near temple and walked towards the main entrance. Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri.

The 57 feet tall Gommateshvara Bahubali statue is located on Vindhyagiri hill, this statue is considered worlds largest monolithic stone statue. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018. Chandagiri – small hill also has a famous temple and some monuments.

We decided to first go to bigger hill which has the statue of Bahubaliji. The hill is situated about 3049 feet from mean sea level and 200 feet from the above the ground level. At the entrance, we learned that we have to take about 600 stone steps to reach top of the hill, hmmmm, everybody seems to enthusiastic about the climb, there was another option of “Palki” for a payment about 250/-, but this is good for differently abled and very old people. It was still morning cool and stone steps were not very hot, it took about 30-40 minutes including breaks for all of us to reach the top. People coming back were giving courage to the climbers that not many steps are left (remember Anupam’s post on Bhutan
Monastery??).

Climbing up the Hill

Climbing up the Hill

Rest Area

Rest Area


The overall view of statue, temple, surroundings, hill was amazing, you can see the temple of Chandagiri hill as well. Lots of history is written on stone and preserved by glass casing. Few pictures below describes it well. Seeing the statue, kids were amazed but puzzled as Bahubaliji was not having any clothes, so, they asked the obvious question, why no clothes?

My sister explained Jainism and difference between Shwetambar and Pitambar and told them they will study the same thing soon in their 8/9th grade. We found a mix crowd, majority of the visitors were from Gujrat, UP, Bihar, MP and few visitors from other countries as well. As the statue is open, it does not take much time to offer the prayers and take the blessings of Bahubaliji. I usually do not take pictures of statue of any God, but, Bahubaliji statue is all different which I do not wanted to miss.

Family offering prayers

Family offering prayers

Bahubaliji's Feet

Bahubaliji’s Feet

Carved statues

Carved statues

CArving on Stone

CArving on Stone

Scripts cased in glass

Scripts cased in glass

View of Chandragiri hill and the lake

View of Chandragiri hill and the lake

Carved statues

Carved statues


Well, after spending about 1.5 hour, we started back and reached with in 10 minutes. So fast, couple of reasons, we were coming down and main reason was that stone steps became too hot and feet were burning, so we had to run but with precaution as steps were little slippery too.

Coming down

Coming down

I asked everybody that shall we go first to the other hill or go for food, everybody looked at me and I got the answer that it is food. We looked for restaurant, there were few homes offering “Rajasthani / Marwari” food, we checked the place and not very convinced having the food there. We found one typical Udupi restaurant, and had lunch there. After lunch I said lets go to the other hill, but nobody wanted to take another 400 hot steps and we decided to go back to Bangalore.

Temple on Chandragiri Hill

Temple on Chandragiri Hill



It took us another 2.5 hours to reach back, there was another option I gave was to visit Bellur temple, which was about 1 hour drive from there but everybody was so tired that they wanted to go home. It was a long awaited visit to Shravanabelagola – Gommateshvara Bahubali, thanks a lot to my sister, I hope I will visit them again in 2018 during Mahamastakabhisheka.

Handicrafts

Handicrafts

Jailed Coconut

Jailed Coconut

Stoned architecture

Stoned architecture

Stoned Architecture

Stoned Architecture

Shravanabelagola view from top

Shravanabelagola view from top

Arts on the wall

Arts on the wall

Carved statues

Carved statues

Stone crafted Shivlings and Nandi

Stone crafted Shivlings and Nandi

8 Comments

  • Anupam Chakraborty says:

    Hi Upanshu

    Good morning. A very well written post. You said, usually you do not take photos of the statue of God, but when you took it, it was splendid, specially the photo of the Bahubalijis Feet and the Bahubaliji in full frame. I have noted the year 2018 for a visit to the place. Can you please tell, when exactly the Mahamastakabhisheka will be held? I mean in which month or date.

    Thanks for remembering my post on A Yatra to Takstang Monastery, Bhutan.

    Please keep sharing your travel stories.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Jainism is pretty old but mostly Lord Mahavira (about 500 BC) is considered as one of its true champions. Mahavira was from Bihar and it is kind of amazing to note that with-in 200 years, the religion spread so far. That too, 2000 years back when there was no motor vehicle. Probably information and things traveled over horse-carts. Unbelievable.

    I am a religiously challenged person and do not know much (except some bit of academia) but I have a huge regards for Jainism. The founding principal is ‘Non Violence and Tolerance’ and that sort of says it all. Traveling builds tolerance, may be that is the connection :-)

    Thank you Upanshu for taking us to Shravanabelagola. Wishes that you make it to 2018 event.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear Upanshu,
    Extremely lovely post with great pics. Nicely done in one day, I remember of our frequent trips while I was in Jharkhand to Parashvaath Hills, a very pious and important pilgrim to Jains. Thanks for sharing. I understand, the Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony is telecast live on many TV channels also because of its immense magnificence and amalgamation of record devotees.

    Keep travelling
    Ajay

  • Nitin says:

    Great post and nice pics Upanshu. It amazes me to see that Jain temples are so spread out from Rajasthan until Karnataka.. it is one of the low profile religions and I guess our history talks more about it…

  • Thanks a lot Nandan, Anupam, Nitin and Ajay for liking the post and encouraging words.

    Anupam, I think Mahamastakabhisheka will be during February or March of 2018, I will double check with my sister and let you know.

    Thanks Nandan for more information on Jainism, I do not know much except what I read in school days.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Upanshu,

    Thank you for taking us to Shravanabelagola – a place I have not visited so far. Karnataka is blessed with so much heritage and it seems every city/town/village is packed with temples and forts. Bellur is a marvel which would deserve a full day.

    So we need to climb bare foot? – are socks allowed in hot weather?

    Even I do not know much about Jainism but it did spread across the country. Even Tamil Nadu had a huge following.

    Enjoyed the post along with the photos.

  • Hello Nirdesh,

    Thanks a lot for liking the post. I also visited Bellur in 2011 while coming back from Chikmagalur, but got a chance to visit only the Bellur temple. Will plan sometime to visit Bellur as well as Halebidu together.

    Socks are allowed as I saw few shops selling socks and I purchased 1 pair for my daughter.

    Thanks,
    -Upanshu

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