The huge statue of Gommateshwara is indeed the pride of Karnataka. It is the tallest monolithic structure of the world and embodies the glory of the Jain religion. Gommateshwara was a Jain saint. The statue is located atop the Indragiri hill at Sravanabelagola. Sravanabelagola is one of the oldest Jain pilgrimage centres in India. The word Sravanabelagola connotes ‘monk of the white pool.’ Sravanabelagola is a tiny village, situated between two stony hills.
The height of Gommateshwara statue is approximately 58 feet and it stands on the larger hill. This naked statue has been engraved out of an existing rock. The huge figure dominates the surrounding landscape, and one can see it from a distance of around 25 km. One has to climb up near about 614 rocky steps to reach to the statue.
It is said that this mammoth statue was constructed when Jainism was at its height of popularity in South India, that is about a thousand years ago. Chavundaraya, the then Chief Minister of King Rachamalla of the Ganga dynasty, is credited with constructing this huge statue. The body of the statue is completely balanced and it reflects sufficiently the calmness of a heart that is in search of illumination. The head of the statue holds wavy spirals of hair and the open eyes appear to give life to the statue. The naked male image of the Jain sage signifies the ascetic feature of faith, reflecting detachment from the world of sensuousness. It symbolises the loneliness of one who has cut every link from the material world. The blank spaces that can be seen on the figure of Gommateswara between the hands and body, and between the legs, are intended to stress the sense of detachment of this Jain sage.
The gigantic sculpture of Gommateshwara is bathed once in 12 years with plenty of bananas, coconut milk, curd, jaggery, poppy seeds, milk, saffron and sandalwood at the time of Mahamastakabhisheka. This is one of the major events at Sravanabelagola, and thousands of pilgrims gather here to view the grand pious show. The nearest airport is Mysore, which is located around 75 km from Sravanabelgola. There is no railway station near Sravanabelgola. The Karnataka State Tourism Development Council arranges trips to Sravanabelgola, from Bangalore and Mysore.
Last Updated On: 2011/07/11