I planned a trip to Shravanabelagola, a popular Jain pilgrimage center. It is a small town in Hassan District of Karnataka. Asia’s largest statue of Bahubali stands here. From Kochi, it is 430 km to Shravanabelagola, the route being Thrissur – Pattambi – Nilambur – Gudalur – Bandipur – Mysore – Krishnarajpet – Shravanabelagola. It holds an important place among Jain pilgrimage destinations. Shravanabelagola is a historical temple town in South Karnataka.
The predominant hills in this place are Chandragiri Hill and Vindhyagiri Hill. It is on top of the Vindhyagiri Hill that the famous statue of Bahubali is built. The statue is 58 feet high and is chiseled out of a single stone. I reached Shravanabelagola a day before.
The next day early morning itself, I started climbing Vindhyagiri Hill for seeing the statue of Bahubali. There is a flight of 600 steps which are cut out of rocks. On climbing a few steps, I could see beautiful scenery all around.
The early morning scenery of Shravanabelagola is really enjoyable. There is a famous pond which is known as ‘White Pond’ [Bela means white and gola means pond, it is said that Shravanabelagola got its name from this].
When I felt tired climbing the hill, I stood for some time and enjoyed the beauty of the place. I reached the top of the hill, climbing and resting at times. The temple is built of large granite blocks supported by large slabs of granite. I went inside and saw the grand statue. Gomateshwar is the Bahubali king who renounced worldly pleasures for leading a spiritual life.
It is interesting to watch the smiling but serious face of Gomateshwar. The serene face created a feeling of peace in my mind. Here, customary rites and rituals of Jainism are conducted every day. The priests and saints here do not wear clothes, they are completely naked.