Shravanabelagola (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ) is a city located in the Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka and is 158 km from Bangalore. The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali, at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. It reached a peak in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Gangas of Talakad.
Shravanabelagola is situated in 12°-51' north latitude and 76°-29' east longitude. It is located at 13 km to the south-east of Channarayapatna in the Channarayapatna taluk of Hassan district of Karnataka state. It is at a distance of 51 km south-east of Hassan, the district centre. It is situated at a distance of 12 km to the south from the Bangalore-Mangalore road (NH-48), 78 km from Halebidu, 89 km from Belur, 83 km from Mysore, 233 km from Mangalore, 17 km from Hirisave and 157 km from Bangalore the capital of Karnataka. It is well connected with State Highways and District roads.
Deriving of the Name
Shravanabelagola which is also known as "the white pond of the Sravana" or "the Jain monk" is named with reference to the colossal Jain image of the place and its prefix Shravana that also serves to distinguish it from other Belgolas with the prefixes Hale and Kodi. The derivation of the word 'Belagola' appears to have been from the two Kannada words Bel (white) and Kola (pond) in allusion to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town. The Sanskrit equivalents Sveta-sarovara, Dhavala sarovara and Dhavala-saras used in the inscriptions that support the derivation of this word from the two Kannada words. Some inscriptions mention the name of the place as Belgula (or also Belugula and Belagula) which have given rise to another derivation from the plant called white gulla (Solanum ferox). This derivation is in allusion to a tradition which says that a pious old woman completely anointed the colossal image with the milk brought by her in a gullakayi or gulla fruit. The place is also designated as Devara Belagola (Belgola of the God) and Gommatapura (the city of Gommata, the name of the colossus) in some epigraphs. Further, the epithet Dakshinakasi or southern Kasi is applied to it in some modern records.
HistoryThere are two hills, Chandragiri (Chikkabetta) and Vindyagiri. The last shruta-kevali, Bhadrabahu Swami, and his pupil, Chandragupta Maurya (formerly the King), is believed to have meditated there.Chandragupta Basadi, which was dedicated to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, was originally built there by Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC. Chandragiri also has memorials to numerous monks and shravakas, who have meditated there since the fifth century AD, including the last King of the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta. Chandragiri also has a famous temple built by Chamundaraya, who was a disciple of Acharya Nemichandra
The 57 feet monolithic statue of the Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali is located on the Vindyagiri.It is considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue and was erected by Chamundaraya, a general of King Gangaraya. The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi, dating from 981 AD.The inscription praises the Ganga king who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins . The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018.
More than 800 inscriptions have been found at Shravanabelagola, dating to various times from 600 to 1830. A large number of these are found in the Chandragiri and the rest can be seen in the Indragiri and the town. Most of the inscriptions at the Chandragiri date back before the 10th century. These inscriptions include texts in the Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Konkani, Marwari and Mahajani languages. The second volume of Epigraphia Carnatica, written by Benjamin L. Rice, is dedicated to the inscriptions found here.
The inscriptions are written in various Halagannada (Old Kannada) and Purvahalagannada (Pre-Old Kannada) characters. Some of these inscriptions mention the rise and growth in power of Gangas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar empire and Mysore Wodeyars. These inscriptions have helped modern scholars to understand the nature and development of the Kannada language and its literature.
On August 5, 2007, the statue of Shravanbelagola was voted by the readers of Times of India (an English Daily) as the first of Seven Wonders of India. 49% votes went in favor of this 1000-plus year old statue.
Other notable things
Photos & information courtesy: Wikipedia