Gomateshvara Statue


A steep climb up 614 steps takes you to the top of Vindhyagiri Hill, the summit of which is lorded over by a towering naked statue of Jain deity Gomateshvara (Bahubali). Commissioned by a military commander in the service of the Ganga king Rachamalla and carved out of a single piece of granite by sculptor Aristenemi in AD 98, it is said to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue. Leave your shoes at the foot of the hill.

Bahubali was the son of emperor Vrishabhadeva, who later became the first Jain tirthankar (revered teacher), Adinath. Embroiled in fierce competition with his brother Bharatha to succeed his father, Bahubali realised the futility of material gains and renounced his kingdom. As a recluse, he meditated in complete stillness in the forest until he attained enlightenment. His lengthy meditative spell is denoted by vines curling around his legs and an anthill at his feet.

Every 12 years, millions flock here to attend the Mastakabhisheka ceremony, when the statue is doused in holy water, pastes, powders, precious metals and stones. The next ceremony is slated for 2030.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Karnataka attractions

1. Bhandari Basti

0.27 MILES

In the southeastern corner of town, this is Sravanabelagola’s largest temple.

3. Chandragupta Basti

0.57 MILES

On Chandragiri Hill opposite Vindhyagiri, this temple is believed to have been built by Emperor Ashoka.

4. Cheluvanarayana Temple

17.27 MILES

Life in the devout Hindu town of Melukote (Melkote), about 50km north of Mysuru, revolves around the 12th-century Cheluvanarayana Temple, with its rose…

5. Venugopala Swamy Temple

28.73 MILES

Back from the dead, this stunning 12th-century Hoysala temple was submerged when the Kaveri River was dammed in 1930. However, villagers had tantalising…