A place is as barren as it is when devoid of trees as it is when of culture. Different places have different stories to offer. A famous poet said that the wars once fought might slip out of the memory of the people, but the land is smeared with its remembrance.
Time and again the futility of a worldly life and the materialistic being rise to the surface. When we are struck by enlightenment. The same narrative of penance and detachment from such a space and the disillusionment from such a life, walking towards the path leading to Moksha; can be witnessed when you take a trip to the land where the gigantic statue of Bahubali firmly stands on Vindhyagiri Hill. It is carved out of a single block of granite and is the tallest monolithic statue in India, visible from 30kms away.
As per the engravings at the foundation of the sculpture of Gommateshwara, it is said that Ganga Ruler Rachamalls’ General and Commander-in-Chief Chavundaraya’s Mother, Kalala Devi, saw a tremendous sculpture of Gommateshwara in her dream. She vowed not to eat until her fantasy was realised. Chavundaraya chose to construct the sculpture of Gommateshwara at Sravanabelgola, a site previously blessed by the Jains; a centre of Jainism. Another legend says that Chavundaraya showed up at this spot eclipsed by two slopes, Chandragiri and Indragiri, en route to journey with his Mother. In his dream, Chavundaraya saw himself shoot a bolt from the highest point of Chandragiri to the neighboring slope, as coordinated by Kushmandini Yakshi and the figure of Gommateshwara gleamed from the spot the bolt hit. Following this he dispatched the curving of a similar picture from a rock stone monument under the management of sage Arishtanemi somewhere between 980 and 983 AD. The valley between the two slopes around the lake was named Shravanabelgola. The name derives from the word ‘Shravan’ meaning Saint and ‘Belagola’ which means white pond. The term might be a reference to the vast Kayani pond, situated between the Vindyagiri and Chandragiri hills.
Disenchantment from materialistic values leads us to spiritualism. As such was the case with Bahubali, who after a tussle with his brother Bharatha over the up takings of the empire led to the realisation of how this greed for power and other materialistic interventions leads the morality, teachings, filial relations and values to take a back seat.
With this acquired cognizance he renounced to achieve Kevala jnana (absolute knowledge). He gave away the kingdom to his brother to become a Digambara monk. According to the legend, he then meditated for a year in the yogic position of Kayotsarga. So unaware of the world, that vines grew up his arms and legs and anthills rose around his feet. This made him to become the first human to gain liberation (Moksha).
So the collosal naked art standing in the lap of the lush green and voluptuous flora and fauna of Shravanbelagola, symbolises victory over earthly attachments in quest of divinity. The perfectly chiseled features of The Lord Gommateshwara embody a calm presence, and the attainment of omniscience. The statue stands on a carved lotus flower symbolising spiritual awakening and sainthood. It also holds linguistic value as the inscriptions carved are in Kannada and Tamil as
well as Marathi dating back to 981Ad. The inscription talks in praise about the king And his general.
Every 12years, the grand festival of Mahamastakabhisheka takes place where devotees shower the statue with water, Milk, sugarcane juice, saffron flower paste, sandalwood powder and vermillion A thousand tourists gather to experience this larger than life cultural scenic beauty and to listen to the stories and teachings which this land has to offer.
In the year 2007, this astonishing statue was honoured with the top spot among the country’s seven wonders. Such culturally