The nude man stands 17 meters tall. You are no more taller than his feet. As you look up at this face, you see nothing but the face and the blue sky. You cannot help getting a feeling of peace and harmony. The man standing at the top of the hill lived here a thousand years back. As you stand today atop the same hill, looking at the plains below, you feel elated, you feel serene. The valley looks beautiful as the sun plays a game with you lighting up patches of the fields below, taking along your eyes across as the clouds move. You just never want to leave the hill, when you are at the top of Vindhyagiri.
A simple 3 hour journey from Bangalore takes you to this 1000 year old Jain temple atop a hill – Shravanabelagola. A calm and peaceful place – this place is best remembered for its 17 meter high giant monolith statue of Raja Bahubali – famously known as Gomateshwara.
Inscriptions in the temple and various other Jain inscriptions across Karnataka date this temple back to 983 AD, built by a Ganga king. The giant statue stands tall above the temple roof, and can be seen around 5 kms from the hill. It is a delight for the eye. Even more amazing is the Mahamastakabisheka – a grand ceremony of bathing the Gommateshwara with milk, honey, sandal, and an array of other items. This takes place only once in 12 years – a must watch.
There are two hills in Shravanabelagola – the Vindhyagiri hill, which houses the colossus of Gommateshwara, and the Chandragiri hill – a smaller hill nearby, which where a number of age-old Jain Basadis are present. A trip to Shravanabelagola is incomplete without visiting both of the pair of hills.
The route from Bangalore is simple.
Bangalore – Magadi – Kunigal – Bellur cross – Hirisave – Shravanabelagola.
As I always say in my articles, take the Magadi road from Bangalore instead of the Tumkur road. This saves on time, and gives you butter smooth roads all through the journey.
The road from Hirisave to Shravanabelagola is a nicely paved village road with coconut groves all around, giving you a pleasant experience as you drive along. If traveling by bus, take a bus to Chanrayapatna from Bangalore. From here, a number of buses, share autos and jeeps are available to reach Shravanabelagola.
- Neat and clean rest rooms are available at the bottom of the hill.
- You are expected to climb the hill bare footed. Socks are available for sale to fight the scorching heat in summers.
- Take my word for it – do not skip the other hill – Chandragiri. It is as beautiful as the bigger one.
- Jain eateries serving vegetarian lunch are present around the hill. If you need variety, you will have to drive up to Hassan.
- There is a coffee day around 35 kms before Shravanabelagola when you go from Bangalore – A nice place to relax over a cup of coffee.
- The complex closes by 6 pm in the evening. So, hurry up.
Now, over to some pictures…