Sravanabelagola is a holy place for Jains and a site of famous historical monument. It is about 143 kms (89 miles) from Bangalore in the Hassan district of Karnataka, India. Just over a two-hour drive on NH-48 from Bangalore, its great for a short visit.
Surrounded by two hills with a small pond tucked perfectly in the middle – the place is uniquely designed by nature. And the remarkable ‘Gommateshwara’ statue stands tall atop the rocky Vindhyagiri hill – deep in meditation. The colossal sculpture starts becoming visible even from afar. But a sea of steps lie in between, before one can finally see it in its entirety. Yes, the sea here, equals to 614 steps of neatly cut hillside which take you all the way to the temple premises.
The numerous steps seemed daunting at first, still we began the uphill climb with quite a lot of enthusiasm. But as it gets steeper it starts becoming difficult to keep going without a few stops on the way. We managed to climb the long flight of stairs with the much-needed breaks in between and finally, took a long breather before enjoying the breathtaking views from up there.
It overlooks the pond and the other hill and the vast expanse of the town in between. From here, one can enter the temple which leads to a big open court where the colossal statue is placed. The enormous 10th century sculpture of ‘Gommateshwara Bahubali’ is carved out of a massive granite rock and measures about 58 feet in height (as documented). It was sculpted by ‘Arishtanemi’ during the rule of Ganga Dynasty and is the tallest monolithic statue in India (according to the historical records).
It is beyond imagination – how they sculpted such an enormous rock with so much precision and detail – more than a 1000 years ago. The defined lines and intricately carved features – are brilliantly artistic. This sculpture is a witness to the architectural finesse and excellent craftsmanship of that time.
During the ‘Mahamastakabhisheka’ festival which is celebrated here every twelve years – the statue is showered with large amounts of milk, coconut water and saffron paste which is followed by a sprinkling of sandalwood & turmeric powders. It must be a great spectacle and it is still on the list for us (next one is scheduled to be in 2018).
The temple around the idol is also beautifully designed and has many intricately crafted sculptures. We were there for quite a while, offered our prayers and got some amazing pictures as well.
And then it was time to leave. We decided to go as fast as we could down the 614 steps. It was more like a bet.
‘Let’s see who reaches first’.
Though it was kind of scary to look down, we came almost running down the stairs quite unlike the way we climbed up.
It surely was a wonderful experience.
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Gallery of Pictures in this post.