Shravanabelagola October 2016

Last October, I had the opportunity to visit a famous Jain temple in Karnataka state in India. The temple is in the town of Shravanabelagola, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from where I was staying in Bangalore. Heading off at 7am on a Sunday, it was a pleasant three-hour drive to reach Shravanabelagola. There are two hills in Shravanabelagola, Chandragiri Hill and Vindhyagiri Hill. We were there to see the great statue of Bahubali also called Gommateshwara.

This is a very impressive statue. From Wikipedia:

Bahubali is also called Gommateshwara because of the Gommateshwara statue dedicated to him. The statue was built by the Ganga dynasty minister and commander Chavundaraya; it is a 57-foot (17 m) monolith (statue carved from a single piece of rock) situated above a hill in Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district, Karnataka state, India. It was built in around 981 A.D. and is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world.

The monolthic statue of Gommateshwara

One has to go up a long staircase, at least a half mile, to get up to the temple where the statue is located.

The bottom of the long entryway to the temple

The steps up Vindhyagiri Hill

The decorations on all of the parts of the hill and temple area are very impressive.

Note the intricate carvings

Here is a view of the town of Shravanabelagola from about half-way up Vindhyagiri Hill. Chandragiri Hill is across the lake.

Looking down on the city of Shravanabelagola from Vindhyagiri Hill

There are a number of Jain temples on Chandragiri Hill. Since I had arrived just the night before from the United States, I was not up to two hill climbs.

Jain temples on Chandragiri hill

There are inscriptions carved in the stone of the hill, dating from 600 AD to 1830 AD.

Inscriptions from 600 AD to 1830

Detail of an inscription on Vindhyagiri hill

The lower temple gate has an amazing carved stone just at the entrance.

There is a carfully carved stone at the top of the stairs

This is the main entrance to the temple.

Intricate carvings on the entry to the temple

Detail of carving from the temple entry

The huge Bahubali / Gommateshwara statue looms over the temple entrance.

The colussus of Gommateshwara looms over the temple entrance

Carving on the temple entrance

The doorway into the temple

The massive Gommateshwara statue is very impressive. Bahubali was known to be very ascetic, and is renowned to have stood still for a year, until the plants grew up around his legs.

The Gommateshwara Statue is one of the largest monolithic statues in the world

The entire temple area is beautiful. It is an active religious site: This is not historic preservation but ongoing worship.

Elaborate decorations face the large statue

Detailed carvings cover the temple

Smaller statues line the interior of the temple

This small statue sits next to Bahubali.

A remarkable small statue sits next to the huge Gommateshwara

Outside of the temple proper, you can walk out on the hill opposite the entrance.

The Karnataka countryside is visible from the back of the temple hill

There is an outer wall outside the main temple. There are carvings along the walls of the walkway between the walls.

There is an open walkway all around the main temple

Many detailed carvings are on the walkway

Fish and elephants on the walls

Elephant carving on the walkway

Fish detail on the walkway

If you visit, arrive as early in the day as you can. You cannot wear shoes but can buy inexpensive socks from local vendors that do fine before the day gets too hot.