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One of the prime temples of temple safaris, about 52 km towards the south- east side of Hassan, Shravanabelagola, on Hassan- Bangalore road, is a Jain pilgrimage destination. The temple, built with granite stones, was constructed on the hill top. The temple in the middle of the awe-inspiring natural locale is attracting plenty of Jain pilgrims all the way through the year. The temple houses the tallest monolithic idol (17.5 meters) of the world. The deity Gomateswara is residing on the shimmering throne of the temple.
Sharavanabelagola, located at an altitude of 930 meters, had gained its popularity and reputation between 6th to 10th centuries. According to a primeval belief, the temple was built in 981 by Arishtanemi.
Another Buddha idol which has a same height of Gomateswara was built in the Buddha Purnima complex of Hyderabad. The weight of that monolithic idol of Buddha is 350 ton.
The idol of Rishabnath, on the Satpura hills in Madhya Pradesh, has a height of 25.5 meters or 84 feet. The Jain saint, Rishabnath, was one of the renowned 24 Jain saints. The idol was built by the tribal leader, Arka Kirti. The deity is also popularly known as Bawangaja in the vicinity.
Surprisingly and unpredictably the Vindhyagiri hills had showed its crest from the plains in Shravanabelagola. The hills Indrabetta and Chandrabetta are standing tall at the southern side and at the northern side of the Vindhyagiri hill respectively. The idol of Gomateswara, residing right on the peak of the Indrabetta hill, was carved out of the hard stones. The height of Indrabetta hill is 950 meters. The holy idol showcases both the expressions of achieving the all important divinity and mental pain. The drawn symbols of spiral tree on the hand and both ant and snake on the leg are the symbols of achieving divinity and getting mental pain respectively. The little smile shown on the face is an expression of being in the winning side. The rigidness of the structure of the idol displays the self restrain. To watch the grey colored sanctified deity, right atop the hill, devotees have to climb up 614 stairways. Unwilling and incapable devotees can cross the stairways riding on a litter or chair. To enjoy the divinity of the idol and the temple properly, you should avoid the scorching sun.
The Mastakabhishek festival, held once every 12 years, is the best time to enjoy the spirituality of the place. It is the time when the deity, Gomateswara, takes a sacred bath with Ghee, Cow milk, Coconut milk, Curd, Honey, Sin door, Sandalwoods, Silver, Gold coins, Bright stones, and 1008 buckets of water. The prime and foremost fiesta of Shravanabelagola had started long back in 1398. In 2019 the next Mastakabhishek festival will again be held on the holy premise of Shravanabelagola. Hordes of Jain pilgrims throng to Shravanabelagola to witness the charming and auspicious festival. Tourists from many other countries also visit the city during the festival.
Tourists can even stay at Shravanabelagola in the festive season. Special arrangements are made for the holiday makers and spiritual crowds during Mastakabhishek festival.
The Brahmadev pillar, atop the hill, is situated at a height of 5 feet. Besides Akhanda Bagilu, innumerable Jain temples are scattered in the proximity. The Akhanda Bagilu is carved out of the hill at the entrance of the temple. A Tourist Reception Centre is doing its operation from the foothill of Indragiri hill. Interested trekkers can enjoy trekking after keeping their belongings in the Tourist Reception Centre. At the foothill, the quadrilateral pond was excavated beside the staircase.
Interested tourists and Jain devotees would be enthralled if they take a little pain to climb up 240 stairways of Chandrabetta hill to the 15 Jain temples and Maths. All these temples show the cultures and traditions of Jain. The significant Chalukya and Dravidian architectures are prominently visible on the walls of these holy temples. The temple of Bhadrabahu is one of the most important temples among the 15 adjoining Jain temples and Maths. The mausoleum of the king, Chandragupta, is placed on the hilltop of Chandrabetta. Kalyanipukur and nearby Jain temples are other impressive enticements of Shravanabelagola.
Tourists who are high on their energy can visit the Bhandara Village to watch the idols of 24 Jain saints at the same place in a renowned Jain temple. Bronze idols of the Jain saints in the Math of chief Acharya can be seen at a place where the road comes to an end. The Math depicts architectural grandeur and elegance. A 1000 years old book is there in the Math as well. The Jain temple, built by the king Chandragupta and Bhadrabahu deserves a visit. The stories of Bhadrabahuswamy, the preceptor of the king Chandragupta, can also be seen and read. Plenty of other divine Jain temples and Maths are also dotted in and around the village.
How to reach: The city of Shravanabelagola can be accessed by bus from Hassan, Mysore, Belur and Bangalore. A vehicle can also be hired to visit the nearby destinations along with Shavanabelagola quickly.
Where to stay: Tourist Home, Travelers Bungalow, Vidyananda Nilaya Dharmashala, Shriyans Prasad Guest House, Hotel Raghu and Dharmasalas of temple authority.
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