Shravanabelagola – Monk of the White Pond

11.09.2016:

Time to go back. We decided to try a few water sports at the Yaguchi water sports complex on our way back. To be frank, we doesn’t want to try any, but as we spent some good amount on the package we thought that we shouldn’t miss any part of the package 😉 . We reached there in about 20 mins from Chikmaglur and the path leading to the water sports complex is beautiful. To be frank, we were not at all excited by the sight of the water sports complex. To begin with, it is not a complex at all, there is a ticket counter and few jet-ski scooters and banana boats and nothing more. I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone. We just went around the dam and left for Shravanabelagola.

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Shravanabelagola can be reached from Channarayapatna and it was about 15 kms from the main highway. Shravanabelagola is nestled in between two holy hills Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri and the Gomateswara temple is located on the top of the hill Vindhyagiri. Shravanabelagola, a home to 2300 years of Jain heritage is surrounded with the lush green coconut grooves and serene natural water bodies which bear the testimony to the legendary mental strength of Tyaga (renunciation) and the tender message of Ahimsa (non-violence) that embody the Jain way of life. We reached Shravanabelagola at around 4.30 pm and realized that we got a tough task ahead of us.

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The Jain Shrine is on top of a hill and one has to climb about 6oo steps to reach the temple. We deposited our footwear at the counter near the foot of the hill and started climbing on. One important thing here is that there are also human-carried-chairs in which the old people and people who can’t climb the steps can be carried to the top by paying some amount to the porters. We came across few such 🙂 It took us around 30 mins to reach the hill-top and there is a temple just after reaching the top, we reserved it towards the end and started walking towards the main temple. It took us another 15 mins to reach the main shrine.

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Gommata devam vandhami panchasayamdanuha  deham ucchatham

devakunanthi utti kesara kusumattassa uvarammi

(Oh, Gommata Deva! Tall and proportionate in height, saffron in color and beautiful in complexion, fulfilling five sacred ceremonies, I salute you)

Finally, there stood the 17.5  m (57 feet) high monolithic statue of the Jain Deity Gomatheshwara (Bahubali) just infront of us when we entered the main temple. This statue is also considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. History tells us that the statue of Gomateshwara or Lord Bahubali was built by Chavundaraya, a general in the service of Ganga king Rachamalla. Carved by the great sculptor Aristenemi from the huge rock at the peak of Vindyagiri hill in Shravanabelagola, the statue was completed around 981 AD.

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The temple was quite small with the main statues standing in the middle and small space in front of it for the pilgrims to sit and perform puja or bhajans and there are few more small temples around it which hosts all the 24 thirthankaras of the Jain religion. We had a round around the temple and went near to the feet of the statue where stood a Pundit giving the prasad and blessings.Another small statue is placed in between the feet of the monolith and lots of pujas were being done to it.

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One important thing is that there takes place a ritual called “Mahamasthabisheka” or the Head Anointing ceremony here every 12 years as wished by Kalaladevi, mother of Chavundaraya . Large number of people come here to take part in the ritual. The next one is going to be in 2018 and will definitely try to attend this if possible 🙂 We started walking back to the temple at the entrance and on the way we found few inscriptions on the stones and hill which are preserved by the ASI. We went into the main temple which is situated on a raised platform and took a round around it and one can get a good view of the town from here. We were also able to see the Chandragiri hill and a temple situated on top of it. Alas, we don’t have that much of time to visit it 😦

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We can get a glimpse of the Kalyani (temple pond) while descending down the steps and also the temple on the other hill. We resumed our journey back to Bangalore at 5.40 and 9.30 PM, am enjoying a good meal at my aunt’s home 🙂

I don’t call it an end to my trip as there are few more places around Chikmaglur which needs to be explored and also planning to attend the coming Mahamastabhisheka 🙂 😉

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