Atop the bald rock of Vindhyagiri Hill, the 17.5m-high statue of the Jain deity Gomateshvara (Bahubali), said to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue, is visible long before you reach the pilgrimage town of Sravanabelagola. Viewing the statue close up is the main reason for heading to this sedate town, whose name means ‘the Monk of the White Pond’. The statue’s simplicity and serenity is in complete contrast to the complexity and energy of the sculptural work at the Belur and Halebid temples.
In the 3rd century BC, Chandragupta Maurya came here with his guru, Bhagwan Bhadrabahu Swami, after renouncing his kingdom. Bhadrabahu’s disciples spread his teachings all over the region, firmly planting Jainism in southern soils. The religion found powerful patrons in the Gangas, who ruled southern Karnataka between the 4th and 10th centuries, the zenith of Jainism’s influence.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009