Sharavanabelagola is one of the important Jain pilgrim centers in Karnataka. Shravanabelagola is located 12 km to the south-east of Channarayapatna in the Channarayapatna taluk of Hassan district.
In Kannada language, 'Shravana' means a Jain ascetic, 'Bel' means white and 'kola' means the pond, the reference to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town. The name 'Belagola' is been found in an inscription belonging to 650 AD and 800 AD. Hence the word Shravanabelagola means the place of white pond where the Jain ascetics live.
Shravanabelagola is popular for its scenic beauty as well as for its religious sanctity. It reached a high point in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of the Gangas of Talakad.
Shravanabelagola is wedged between two rocky hills - the Vindyagiri and the Chandragiri.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN SHARAVANABELGOLA
The Vindyagiri hill is about 470 feet above the ground. The 17.38 meter (58 ft) high monolithic stone statue of the Gomateshwara or Bahubali is loacted at the Vindhyagiri hill. It is said to be one of the tallest monolithic statues in the world.
The statue of Bahubali was installed by a Ganga minister and scholar Chavundaraya. This statue is carved beautifully with accurate sense expression and there are curly hairs over the head.
The stone sculpture of Bahubali represents renunciation, self-control and subjugation of ego as the first steps towards salvation. The digambara (nude) form of Bahubali represents the complete victory over earthly desires and needs that hamper spiritual ascent towards divinity.
Chandragiri is a small hill, located just opposite to the Vindhyagiri. Chandragiri has memorials to numerous monks and shravakas who have meditated there. Chndragiri also has famous jain temples and the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya, famous patron of Jainism can be seen.
The Mahamastakabhisheka at Shravanabelagola
Mahamastakabhisheka is the great head anointing ceremony of Bahubali have been performed once in every 12 years. The huge statue of Lord Gommateshwara is bathed with thousands of pots of Milk, Ghee, Sandal, Saffron, Flowers etc.
The Mahamasthakabisheka attracts huge number of devotees from all over the world. The last Mahamasthakabhisheka was held here in February 2006. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018 A.D.
Shravanabelagola is the seat of the ancient Bhattaraka Math, belonging to the Desiya Gana lineage of Mula Sangha of Digambar monstic tradition. The Bhattarakas are all named Charukeerthi.
The present seer of Shravanabelagola
The present seer of the Dharmapeetha of Shravanabelagola is Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji. His earlier name was Rathnavarma. He accepted his sainthood when he was 20 years of age. Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji became the seer of the Dharmapeetha of Shravanabelagola on April 19, 1970