Bahubali- The Telugu blockbuster of 2015. Bahubali became a household name in India after the massive success that the movie achieved smashing the record books with a collection in an excess of 300 Crore. Everyone loved the story and plot of the movie but few were aware of the allusion it had to the life of the real Bahubali- Gomateshwara Bahubali.
Bahubali, the first tirthankara of Jainism, abdicated his kingdom and started meditating in search of enlightenment. Located at Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district of Karnataka, the 57 ft Gomateshwara statue built around 983 AD depicting Bahubali in a standing posture without cloths is the largest monolithic statue of India. This statue was ranked 1st among seven wonders of India in a SMS poll conducted by Times of India in 2007.
How to reach? To reach Shravanabelagola, board a Hassan bound bus from the KSRTC bus stop at Majestic Bus Station. Get down at Channarayapattana (ticket price – Rs. 154). From here take another bus to Shravanabelagola (ticket price- Rs.7).
Best time to visit? The best time to visit is during the Mahamastakabhisheka festival. Wait! It happens once in every 12 years. The second best time would be the winter months (October-March) when the climate is pleasant.
I visited Shravanabelagola in a one day trip which also included the ancient temples of Belur and Halebidu. I left from Bangalore at 7:30 AM and reached Channarayapattana at about 10:30 AM. From here I boarded another bus to the Shravanabelagola bus stop which took another 20 mins.
Then I walked to the hill on the right. You will find people climbing stairs on both sides of the road. But the one on the left as you go from the bus stand is Chandragiri and not Vindhyagiri (the one in which the Bahubali statue is located). On reaching the foothill, you have to open your shoes and deposit them in a shoe counter charging Rs.10. Then starts an arduous trek of 647 steps. The steps in certain areas are large and are difficult to ascend. Don’t forget to carry a water bottle as there are no drinking water facilities until you reach the top.
From the top you get a magnificent view of the surrounding hills and the ‘bili gola’ (a pond with green water) which was earlier used by the Jain monks.
There are a few Jain shrines with idols of Jain tirthankaras. There are many inscriptions (in Kannada and Hindi) on the floor and on the boulders are embossed with images of Jain monks and legends. Going further up I finally got a glimpse of Bahubali. It was better than I expected. There were very few people, so I had enough time to clearly view the magnificent colossus. The freestanding monolithic granite statue depicts Bahubali in Kayotsarga meditation posture in which he stood over a year without food and water. Such was his penance that, as sculpted in the statue, anthills grew at his feet and tendrils- madhava lata twirled around his arms. The naked statue and his wide open eyes show the extreme austerities he observed in his path of attaining Kevali Arihanta or the perfect knowledge and enlightenment.
Visiting this statue had long been on my bucket list. So it was satisfying to check mark it. I boarded a bus back to Channarayapattana. After that, I continued on my trip to Hassan from where I took a bus to Halebidu and later Belur. Click the link below to read about Belur and Halebidu
I wish to return to this place during the Mahamastakabhisheka festival when this gigantic statue will be anointed with water, vermilion, milk, sandalwood, turmeric, etc.
Try to visit this place if you are staying in Bangalore or Mysore. Hope you liked it. Please share your views in the comments section. Jainism preaches peace and love. Keep Loving and Spread Love.