Gomateshwara temple is around 158 km away from the well known city Bengaluru and is situated 83 km away from Mysore. The temple is situated in a place called pond of temples- Shravanabelagola.
Shravanabelagola is famous for Gometeshwara temple which is also known as Bahubali. According to Jain texts, Bahubali or Gomateshwara is the second son of Tirthankara of Jains, Rishabdeva or Adinath. It is believed that Adinath had 100 sons. The story starts when Rishabdeva left his kingdom and a tussle took place between his sons Bharatha and Bahubali for the empire. When Bharatha called for a war, Bahubali asked for a duel war that includes only both of them as he did not want many lives at loss. Although Bahubali won the fight with Bharatha, he was not happy as there was bitterness between the brothers. Hence Bahubali gave the kingdom to Bharatha and left to seek absolute knowledge. After years of meditiation he achieved the Kevali Arihanta meaning the perfect and complete knowledge. Another story reveals that Chavundraya and his mother arriced at the site of Shravanabelagola during a piligrimage. At the site, Chavundraya had a dream in which he shot an arrow from chandragiri hills to vindhyagiri as instructed by one of the Yakshi. The arrow landed on a spot where it is believed that Bahubali appeared. And that is how Chavundraya made sure to built a giant statue of Bahubali.
There is a pond between the two hills making it a valley and hence is called Shravanabelagola. Belagola means white pond. Chavundraya built the statue under the supervision of sage Arishtanemi and placed it on Vindhyagiri.
- History says that in 988 AD, Bahubali was ordered by his minister Chavundaraya of the Ganga Dynasty to fulfil the wishes of his mother Kalala Devi.
- The statue is made of granite and weighs 80 tons. The naked statue (digambara) is typical of Jain traditions and is symbolizes one’s victory over earthly attachments and desires that hampers their spiritual ascent towards divinity.
Interesting Facts about the Gomateshwara Temple
1. The statue of Gometeshwara has vines climbing which resembles hims standing still and looking at the world with detachment. Also, it depicts the prolonged meditation of Bahubali.
2. His face is sculptured in such a way that it shows his calmness and inner peace.
3. The entire figure stands on a lotus signifying the statue sculpting. There are two tall bearers on both the sides of the statue called Yaksh and Yakshini who offer services to the lord.
4. Bahubali is called as the Jain prince. Jainism is one of the ancient relgions that came into existence during 7th century BC in Eastern India. It is very interesting how it almost successfully reached southern India and we have this giant statue of peace.
5. The temple is situated 3350 m above sea level and the statue is 57 ft tall which is made out of one rock only.
6. There are seven hundred granite steps made to reach the statue. Because of the nature of its maginificant work, it is considered as one of the top seven wonders.
7. Every twelve years thousands of Jain devotees and Kannad people come to celebrate Mahamastabhisheka festival. The abhisheka constitutes of milk, turmeric water, water and ghee to be poured on the statue from its head. Tons of milk and ghee is used in the abhishekam. After the abhishekam the statue is decorated with saffron paste and flowers.
8. There are 650 stairs that will make you reach to the top of the hill and to the head of Gomateshwara temple. The stairs are steep and one must carry enough water to take the heat of the direct sun.
9. The inscription on the bottom of the statue is dedicated to praise of the Ganga king Rachamall who funded the effort and his general Chavundaraya, who commissioned the statue for the fulfillment of the wish of his mother.
10. The next Mahamastabhishekam is in 2030 and will be a great festival including tons of ghee, curd, saffron juice etc.
Another interesting fact is no body can bath the statue completely as it is very huge. There is a old story where a king was too proud that he tried to cover the statue completely in water by pouring it from the head. And they say the Kind failed to wet the statue even with so many pots of water.
Things to Do
- At the reception you can get all the information of the upcoming events.
- The shravanabelagola is known as pond of temples hence, one can visit so many temple around the statue that signify the works from early 900 AD.
- There is a white pond of shravana belagola is also known as the city of Gommata. The pond is known to reflect the two hills, the larger vindhyagiri hills and small chandragiri hills. The relatively unknown Ganga Rajas who ruled the state between the fourth and 11th century were responsible for this structure.
- The sunset in the chandragiri hills is one of the scenic view and romantic place. You got lots of south Indian street food that is tasty but hygiene can be decided at your own risk.
- There is a spacious chamber in Bhandari Basti about 200 meteres to the left of Gometeshwara statue containing the 24 figures of Thirthankaras.
The temple remains open from 6:30 am – 11:30 am and 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm. The best time to visit Delhi is between February and April or in Winter. There are many buses available from Bangalore at Majestic Bus Stand.
The entry to the temple is around 150 RS to see the statue. However, if you want to have some religious pooja done then you may need to shed some money. There are Dharmashalas where one can reside for a reasonable price. Some of them offer free service. The shoes and cameras need to be left at the reception as photographs are not allowed.
I hope the information about the great Bahubali statue will help you understand its significance and the beauty of its peaceful and calm spiritual vibe.