Gomateshwara Temple

The colossal rock cut statue of saint Gommata at Shravanabelagola is the most magnificent among all Jaina works of art. It was built in circa 982 AD and is described as one of the mightiest achievements of ancient Karnataka in the realm of sculptural art. Also referred to as Lord Bahubali, the image is nude an stands upright in the posture of meditation known as kayotsarga, reaching a height of nearly 57 ft atop the Vindyagiri of Doddabetta hills accessible through a flight of 500 steps.

There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance. From this anthill emerge a snake and a creeper which twine around both his legs and his arms culminating as a cluster of flowers and berries at the upper portion of the arms. The entire figure stands on an open lotus signifying the totality attained in installing this unique statue. On either side of Gommata stand two tall and majestic chauri bearers in the service of the Lord. One of them is a yakshi and the other one is a yakshi. These richly ornamented and beautifully carved figures complement the main figure. Carved on the rear side of the anthill is also a trough for collecting water and other ritual ingredients used for the sacred bath of the image.

Around the statue is an enclosure of a pillared hall where one can find 43 images of tirthankaras in different cloisters. There is also a figure of a woman called Gullikayajji sculpted with a good built and wearing exquisite ornamentation, typical of the sculptures of the Ganga period. The Akandabagilu or the massive door, carved out of a single rock with an elaborately carved Gajalakshmi in her typical posture flanked by two elephants, is another meritorious work of Jain craftsmanship. This also said to have been under the guidance and inspiration of Chaundaraya, the illustrious minister who served under the successive rulers of the Gangas namely Marasimha II, Rachamalla IV and Rachamalla V.
One of the largest temples in the area is the Chaundarya Basadi dedicated to Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara depicted under a seven hooded canopy and flanked by male chauri bearers. This temple is unique in its style. It belongs to the era of the western Gangas and is evolved out of the Chalukyan styles at Badami and Aihole. One the same hill can be seen the Chandraprabha Basadi dedicated to the 8th tirthankara by the same name. It is one of the oldest basadis on the hill and can be assigned to the early 9th century under the reign of Sivamara, a Ganga king.

While at Shravanabelalgola one can also gain insights into Jaina mythology through some of the finest paintings depicted on the walls of the Sri Jains matha. Rich in colours and harmonious in composition, these paintings of the 18th century depict royal processions and festivities, monks, women in brightly coloured sarees, forest scenes of wild animals and other topics that shed light on the domestic, religious and social life of the people.

 

The temple to Gomateswara is built on top of a hill, in between two hills - at a height of 3000 feet above sea level. A flight of 500 steps provides access to this temple. Views of the neighborhood from the top of the hill are spectacular. The statue of Gomateswara is an inspiring one. Carved from a single block of granite, this 50 feet high statue, stands on top of the hill. This statue was created during the rule of Chamundaraya. This is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage center in South India, an is known for its colossal monolithic statue of Gomateswara, on top of a hill. This is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage center in South India, an is known for its collossal monolithic statue of Gomateswara, on top of a hill. Sravanbelagola is at a distance of 93km from Mysore. The nearest railhead is Hassan (49km). Belur is at a distance of 86 km from here. The Karnataka State Tourism Office, organizes day trips which cover Sravanabelagola, Halebidu and Belur in a single day