Tallest monolithic sculpture of the world-Gomateshwara Statue
Shravanabelagola is a city located in the Hassan district, 158 km from Banguluru. The statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali at Sravanabelagola 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. The tallest monolithic stone statue (18m high) of Gomateshwara, at Shravanabelagola which is a prominent Jain pilgrimage centre. The statue was errected between AD 980 and AD 983 you have to climb 700 hot granite steps to reach it.
Gommateshwara Monolith stands tall at a height of 58 feet. It is constructed entirely out of granite and depicts Jain saint Gommateshwara, also known as Bahubali, without any clothes. The colossal statue is believed to have been carved out of a single rock and can be seen from as far as 25 km. Since it is situated on a hill, one has to climb around 614 steps to reach the statue. The Monolith of Gomateshwara has been built as per the typical Jain architecture and beautifully represents the exquisite craftsmanship of the Indian artisans.
The body of the saint has been sculpted in perfect proportions and one can feel calmness in his face. There is a very interesting story behind the construction of the Gommateshwara statue. Bahubali was one of the two sons of Adinath, the first of the 24 Jain saints (Tirthankars). He was never interested in the material possessions of his life and gave away the entire kingdom of his father to his brother. Renouncing the world, he underwent rigorous penance and was recognized as Gommateshwara.It is said that Chavundaraya's mother saw a huge statue of Gommateshwara in her dreams. After waking up, she vowed that she would not eat until her dream was converted into reality. Thereafter, Chavundaraya and his mother went on a pilgrimage, in which they came across the two hills at Sravanabelgola already sanctified by the Jains. Chavundaraya decide to build the statue of Gommateshwara on the larger hill and ordered the carving of the monolith out of a boulder that stood on top of the hill.
The image was consecrated in 980 AD. The statue of the Saint Gommateshvara Bahubali in the city is one of the most significant pilgrimage places for Jains and attracts pilgrims from all over the world. There are many antique monuments in and around Shravanabelagola and are of a typical brilliance and expertise executed by the Gangas and Hoysalas. The two renowned monuments situated in the city are Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri. The city has also been named as the "White Pond of the Shravana" as Belagola in Kannad signifies "white pond". It is said that the two persons, named Acharya Bhadrabahu and his disciple Chandragupta Maurya have meditated here. An attraction, Chandragupta Basadi, devoted to Chandragupta Maurya was made by Ashoka in the third century BC adds an extra feather in the cap of Shravanabelagola.
At about 470 feet above the ground, Vindhyagiri is a very famous hill. The 17.38 m high single stone idol of the Lord Gommateshwara also designated as Bahubali is situated above the hill Vindhyagiri or Doddabetta or Indragiri hill. This statue was established by Chavundaraya and is believed to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue.