Shravanabelagola – Home of the World’s Tallest Standing Monolithic Statue

Did you know Shravanabelagola has the World's Largest Monolithic Statue
Did you know Shravanabelagola has the World's Largest Monolithic Statue

 Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola

Karnataka, one of the southern states of India is a veritable treasure house of attractions that are bound to enthrall visitors with their everlasting charm. As the tag line of Karnataka Tourism states, Karnataka is, ” One State. Many worlds. On the one hand, the state’s coastline which includes the magical beaches of Gokarna and Karwar serenade your senses while on the other hand, the timeless beauty of heritage sites like Hampi and enigmas like the Gol Gumbaz will amaze you. If the coffee plantations of Coorg and its weather remind you of Scotland, the city of Mysore transports you into a royal era.

The dance of nature in Karnataka reaches a resplendent zenith in places like Bandipur, Jog Falls and Shivanasamudra where water falls merrily cascade to the eternal song of the divine and wildlife joyously rejoice in their natural environs. The state provides a window to history in places like Somanathapura where an ancient temple stands gloriously, a witness to the unending passage of history.

Indeed Karnataka is a state which is a mosaic embellished with many hued gems. One among these gems is a place which has a somewhat tongue twister of a name, Shravanabelagola.

Did you know Shravanabelagola has the World’s Largest Monolithic Statue?

Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is a small town in Karnataka and is situated at a distance of about 143 kilometers from its capital city of Bangalore. Shravanabelagola is quite near the famous temples of Belur and Halebid and can be included in an itinerary which takes in these temples as well.

Why visit Shravanabelagola?

Shravanabelagola

A 58 feet tall monolithic statue standing tall on a hill overlooking the town and supposedly one of its kind in the World is indeed a magnet that draws visitors to Shravanabelagola. An arduous and steep climb across some 600 steps takes you to the feet of this amazing statue and as you gaze up towards the benign face of the mammoth statue, you realize that you are indeed looking up at a Lord of all he surveys!

Shravanabelagola

What is the story of the Monolithic Statue of Shravanabelagola?

Bahubali was the name of a prince who was the finest among princes, excelling in archery, floriculture and the medicinal sciences and a real blue blooded warrior. A dispute over territories with his brother Bharata escalated into a full fledged war and the two brothers engaged in a one to one duel which included fights in the water and wrestling. Bahubali won all the duels, hands down. But the bitterness of war touched the core of Bahubali’s heart and he was a transformed man who now developed a disgust for the trivial and mundane things of the materialistic world. He renounced the world and trod the path of a Jain monk, in search of the divine truth. Such was his passion and perseverance that he is said to have meditated in a motionless state for a year. Plants and creepers grew from the earth around him and coiled over his body, but such was the depth of his meditation, that he continued his meditation, ignoring the onslaught of weather, vegetation, and insects. Finally, the penance of Bahubali paid off and he attained Moksha or became a liberated soul.

Shravanabelagola

In the year 981 AD, a minister in the Ganga Dynasty named Chavundaraya had the statue built in honor of the great penance of Bahubali. The statue is also popularly known as Gommateshwara and is one of the tallest free standing statues in the world. The statue depicts the naked Bahubali meditating in a standing position with creepers coiled around his legs.

The Mahamastabhisheka 

Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is a very important place of Pilgrimage for the Jains who are followers of Jainism, an ancient religion of India. Once in every twelve years, the place sees millions of pilgrims and tourists descend on it. This is to witness or participate in what is called the Mahamastabhisheka. The statue is given a ritualistic bath with water, milk, sugarcane juice and saffron paste and sprinkled with turmeric and vermilion powder. It is indeed a spectacular sight to see milk and water cascade down the shoulders of the inscrutable statue of Bahubali. The next Mahamastabhisheka is now due in 2018.

Some Interesting Facts

Shravanabelagola

Seven Wonders of India

Gomateshwara, the 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Bahubali is considered as one of the seven wonders of India.

Chandragupta Maurya

Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of Mauryan empire renounced his power and relinquished his throne and became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.  It is said that Acharya Bhadrabahu and his disciple Chandragupta Maurya meditated in Shravanabelagola. Chandragupta Maurya is believed to have died here in Shravanabelagola in 298 BCE.

Bahubali statue

If you thought that the Bahubali statue in Shravanabelagola was one of its kind, think again! Yes, the statue in Shravanabelagola is the tallest one, but there are 4 more such statues in Karnataka. There is a 42 feet tall statue in Karkala, a 39 feet tall statue in Dharmasthala, a 35 feet statue in Venur and a 20 feet tall statue in Gommatagiri in Mysore District.

How to Get to Shravanabelagola

Bangalore is the nearest airport to Shravanabelagola and it is well connected by road to all major cities of the state like Mangalore. One can take a bus or a taxi to Shravanabelagola from Bangalore and reach there in about three and a half hours.

Shravanabelagola

Where to stay in Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is a small town with limited options. One can choose to stay at Hassan which has a number of resorts and budget hotels. One can also choose to do a day trip while staying in Bangalore, which has plenty of accommodation options across all budget ranges. Karnataka State Tourism also has guided tours that cover Shravanabelagola and the temples of Belur and Halebid in a single day.

Where to eat in Shravanabelagola

If one is really hungry one can probably snack in one of the small restaurants in Shravanabelagola. Otherwise, if one is staying in Hassan or Bangalore, Hassan has wider options for dining. One can step into Beans N Brews Cafe for some invigorating choice of coffee or some thin crust pizzas.

 

Shravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola is one of the most popular Jain pilgrimage centers in South India. Shravanabelagola is indeed a gem in the crust of the crown of Karnataka, a visit to the place and the climb of 600 steps to reach the 58 feet monolithic statue of Bahubali or Gommateshwara is a very satisfying experience. A visit during the Mahamastabhisheka ceremony is bound to guarantee an experience, the scale of which is comparable to the famous Kumbh Mela of India.

                                                                                                         Video credit: Sukhnidhey Films

Have you visited Shravanabelagola? Do you know of any other monolithic statue as big as that of Bahubali in Shravanabelagola?

As always we hope you had a nice reading experience and look forward to your valued feedback.

Thanks for visiting our site Voyager – www.imvoyager.com and taking the time to read our post!

 


Did you know Shravanabelagola has the World's Largest Monolithic Statue    Did you know Shravanabelagola has the World’s Largest Monolithic Statue?



 

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46 thoughts on “Shravanabelagola – Home of the World’s Tallest Standing Monolithic Statue

  1. Kavey Favelle Reply

    Thank you for such a comprehensive post about Shravanabelagola. I love that you have not only given us beautiful photographs, but also the legend behind the statue and how it came to be built, the practical information about visiting and the fascinating activity of Mahamastabhisheka that only happens every twelve years. Thanks for all the tips!

  2. Divyakshi Gupta Reply

    You have described the beauty and diversity of Karnataka. Truly, the state has many worlds: majestic temples, great beaches, forests, architecture and natural splendours! 🙂 I have been to Belur Halebid but due to paucity of time skipped this. I remembered the poem we had in school on this magnificent structure. The photos are stellar! 🙂

  3. Chris Reply

    India really is a country of incredible surprises, amazing history and quirky facts.

    The question you put to us readers had me wondering, so I did a little looking on Google.

    How does this monolith compare to the Statue of Ahimsa?

    • Voyager - Sandy & Vyjay Post authorReply

      Hey Chris, good research! Statue of Ahimsa was completed in 2016. Though it is taller than the Gommateshwara in Shravanabelagola, it is not a monolithic statue.

  4. Eric || The Bucket List Project Reply

    whoa a 58 foot high statue would be amazing to see. I had never heard of Shravanabelagola even while I was in india for a month. Wish I had cause I would have loved to see this. Can I ask, is this one of the few statues with proper genetalia? I don’t ever remember seeing a statue with certain parts.

  5. Katherine Reply

    Whoa, really interesting facts about the statue. Those stairs looked like they would of been a mission! Although a rewarding experience when you reach the top.

  6. Danik Reply

    Wow! He is so tall! (and a great read about him) I wonder if he comes alive at night and goes for a walk? All that standing around must really hurt. 😛 But seriously, I would love to see this, this statue looks really impressive.

  7. Megan Jerrard Reply

    Definitely a tongue twister name! I had no idea that Shravanabelagola was home to the World’s Largest Monolithic Statue, nor had I heard of Jainism before, so I’m learning a lot of new things today. Sounds like it would be a good day trip from Bangalore. Will have to start training now if I plan to climb 600 steps!!

  8. Indrani Reply

    I have been there a couple of times and each time I was amazed to same extent!
    So much history… teaches us a lot.
    The best part is the place is unspoilt by tourists yet.

  9. Claire Summers Reply

    This is such an interesting post! I had no idea this even existed. It looks incredible, totally worth the 600 steps! I would love to go during Mahamastabhisheka, I think that really would be an incredible thing to see.

  10. April Reply

    I’m not even going to try to pronounce that one! How cool! I was amazed by some of the Buddha statues in Thailand but this is even more impressive! I’d love to visit India someday

  11. Ambuj Saxena Reply

    Thank you for an informative and insightful blog post on Shravanbelagola! I have heard stories about it being the Jainism hub and that father of Ashok died here after extreme penance!
    I could almost imagine history come true infront of my eyes as i read the post!

  12. Trisha Velarmino Reply

    That’s really huge! I like that you wrote about the story behind the monolithic statue. It’s something that we can learn a lesson on how we focus on the mundane things and forget about what truly matters. And you showed us that India is full of wonders and definitely a treasure!

  13. Tracie Howe Reply

    This is quite an impressive statue! It definitely looks like it’s worth a visit and the surrounding area sounds intriguing as well. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Heather Reply

    Wow, a massive statue indeed. Your photo of the statue peeking out from the temple really puts it’s size in perspective. I would love to visit during the Mahamastabhisheka. What a spectacular site it must be to see the statue in a ritual bath during the festival. Shravanabelagola looks like a fascinating place to visit, thanks for putting it on my radar!

  15. Paige W Reply

    Wow! That’s such an impressive statue! So massive! I love the shot with the head looking out over the top of the temple roof. It makes you realize just how big 58 feet is! I hope I get to see this on my trip to India!

  16. Jenn and Ed Coleman Reply

    I love a challenge. World’s tallest standing monolithic statue…
    So it needs to be a monolith, made out of a single block.
    Statue, so towers and such just don’t count.
    And standing, so seated statues like the Colossi of Memnon and such don’t count.
    Also tallest, not just the most massive. Ok. I’ll believe this. What’s amazing is that this was make so long ago and still looks pristine. An amazing feat.

  17. Siddhartha Joshi Reply

    This is the first ever blog-post I’ve come across about Shravanabelagola and I am glad you did it…lots of wonderful details. I really hope to visit next time I visit Karnataka (just back from there) 🙂

  18. Gillian Reply

    Interesting post. I’ve never heard of Shravanabelagola(wow, what a mouthful), but I would love to visit! There is a 99 ft bronze statue of the goddess of mercy in Penang, Malaysia which you can probably visit too. 🙂

  19. Jennifer Reply

    That statue is massive. What always amazes me about these types of things is the detail and scale these kinds of statues were created with long ago. Yet today, it takes forever to build anything and very few are true works that will stand the test of time.

  20. Shruti Prabhu Reply

    I remember reading about Shravanbelagola in my history textbook. Seeing photos of it seems like a whole different experience and I imagine experiencing it must be even better! What a feat!

  21. Swati Reply

    Thanks for such a detailed post with the history behind it. I recall visiting Shravanabelagola as a child and was in awe of the tall statue.

  22. SindhuMurthy Reply

    I really feel the tag line for Karnataka State Tourism is aptly put- One state many worlds! The state has so much to offer- Shravanabelagola being one of the gems. It disheartens when I read of people writing only about Hampi or some beaches like Gokarna when it comes to tourism in Karnataka. I m really glad you wrote about Shravanabelagola. Waiting to read about many interesting destinations in Karnataka on your blog.

  23. mark wyld Reply

    The statue is very impressive and large. Whatis equally impressive is anyone who climbs all those stairs they seem to go on for ever

  24. Vibeke Reply

    I didn’t know about Shravanabelagola before. It is impressive how much you know about it. Such detailed post. I would love to check out Shravanabelagola. 😊

  25. Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women Reply

    Shravanabelagola would be so awesome to visit. That photo of the stairs was quite impressive. You would need to be fit to get up there in a hurry! But the reward would certainly be worth it. The history was really fascinating and I also loved the video you included. It would be amazing to be able to see the 12 yearly event in 2018.

  26. Janna Reply

    Wow that is impressive! I didn’t know about Shravanabelagola before. That must’ve been quite the work out to get to the top. The statue is massive. I wonder how long before they finished it.

  27. Christopher Rudder Reply

    Shravanabelagola? Ok, this is definitely new! I never heard of this place…That statue looks amazing but those stairs and the number 600 scare me…lol. I guess that’s the price you need to pay to get up close and personal. Thanks for introducing me to a completely new place!!!

  28. Kenneth Ephraim Surat Reply

    Wow the statue is humongous. I love reading the history about it. It is amazing how an event can move a place/culture/people. Funny when I saw the name Bahubali, I got reminded of the movie I watched haha. I believe we are talking about the same person here haha.

  29. Joanna Reply

    Your post reminds me of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the “Colossus of Rhodes” which was supposed to be a similar statue, about 100 feet high. The monolithic statue from Shravanabelagola looks really impressive, it’s amazing that you can see it from so far away.

  30. Jerny Reply

    Awesome awesome awesome!!! I love huge statues as I’ve always tried to ask myself how these statues were made. Like, how were they able to make it stand without machinery and stuff. How were they able to make it a flawless mold that lasted throughout many many years.. Hmm..

  31. Harini Reply

    I have never been to Shravanabelagola bit I have to to the other places you mentioned when I used to live in Bangalore.I had been thinking all this while it’s solely a religious place of interest I didn’t know that it had so many amazing statues.

  32. Guy Crotty Reply

    Am loving learning about all these places to visit in India. Shrevanabelagola looks and sounds pretty awesome. Would particularly like to see it during Mahamastabhisheka covered in all that saffron. Would look super cool!

  33. Rosemary Reply

    While I have not been to India yet, everything I read about the country is intriguing. This is the latest of such articles. Whoa…the statue is incredible, and so majestic. Really interesting to read about the history and importance of the statue to the Jain religion. Fascinating. Thanks for the introduction to another fascinating aspect of the country.

  34. Rahul Khurana Reply

    This is the first time I am hearing about Shravanbelagola. It’s something so good to know about. It indeed is the original Bahubali. I have to visit it to see the mahamastakbhishek in 2018.

  35. Suruchi Reply

    A wonderful post with so many insights and information. I have just been to Bangalore and have never heard about Shravanabelagola. The history behind it is so fascinating. The statue is really huge and incredible. I am wondering how much time the artist might have took to make it. Really Amazing.

  36. Mel Butler Reply

    This place definitely intrigues me for sure, it looks beautiful. I have never heard of Shravanbelagola and I am I love history, so this place is definitely somewhere I would visit. Not sure how I would go climbing the steep 600 steps to the foot of the statue though in the Indian heat :-). It would be to see the see the millions of pilgrims and witness the Mahamastabhisheka.

  37. Danijela WorldGlimpses Reply

    The statue really looks imposing, so tall! And I love the fact that one has to do those 600 steps in order to reach it. It probably seems more and more powerful as you come closer.

  38. Wanderlust Wayfarer Reply

    I would absolutely love to visit Shravanabelagola to see the world’s largest monolithic statue. This year I have been blessed to see Christ the Redeemer and Wisnu in Bali, but they simply can’t compare to this. At 58 feet tall, it would be worth climbing every one of the 600 steps to see!

  39. neha Reply

    Going through your article made me feel that living in Karnataka for 7 years, I have only been able to explore the tip of the iceberg. There are so many treasures like Shravanabelagola that are yet to be seen and experienced!! Will plan a trip soon

  40. Marion Halliday (Red Nomad OZ) Reply

    After reading about the Gommateshwara in your article about the 7 wonders of India, I just had to find out more! It’s a fascinating story behind the statue – there’s no way I’d be so dedicated in my penance as Bahubali was, but then I guess that means I won’t be a fully enlightened soul either! But I’d love to see the statue – and 2018 isn’t that far away 😀

  41. Ami Bhat Reply

    The sight of the statue is so amazing …right from the time you turn around the bend to approach this place. The first time I visited it, it totally blew me with its size. Glad you could cover it here.

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