an ancient Jain pilgrimage centre is situated about 95 kms from Mysore,
157 kms from Bangalore and 52 kms from Hassan. It is nesltled between
the Indragiri and Chandragiri Hills. The Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya
retired to Shravanabelagola along with Bhadrabahu, a disciple of Lord Mahavira
around 300 B.C to become a Jain ascetic, after handing over his kingdom
to his son Bindusara. Thus, Jainism became popular in Karnataka during
that period. There are some 500 inscriptions in Shravanbelagola recording
the slow death by starving of the Jain ascetics.
A 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Lord Gomateswara stands atop the Indragiri hill. Gomateshwara , a Jain saint was so deep in his meditation, that creepers started entwining his legs. This monolithis statue is also depicted with creepers around the limbs.
Gomateshwara was a Jain prince, Bahubala who had to fight a fiery battle with his brother to defend his kingdom. But he was dejected and upset at the tremendous loss due to war, gave up his kingdom and retired to meditate in peace and attained nirvana.
The giant statue of Gomateshwara was erected in 983 AD by Chamundaraya, a general and minister of the Ganga King, Rachamatta, by the sculptor Arstameni. The spectacular ceremonial worship of the Lord takes place once every 12 years - Mahamastabhishekam, when the statue is bathed with pots of milk, honey, curd, rice, coconut milk, ghee, sugar, almonds, saffron, coins, turmeric powder, vermillon, dates, bananas, by priests who climg a special structure raised for this purpose near the statue.
The last ceremony - 1993
and the next - 2005.
There are some Jain temples (Bastis) and Jain mutts in the smaller Chandragiri hill. The most important among them is the Chandragupta Basti built by Emperor Ashoka (grandson of Chandragupta). There are eight beautifully carved idols, with semi-precious stones here.