Shravanabelagola 16 001

Shravanabelagola: Moksha atop the Hill

Well this is not a new trip. I made this in 2012 with a fiend on his bike, when i was in Bangalore. But it came along with a failed trip to Sakleshpur and at that time I was accumulating failed trips like Meryl Streep collects Oscar nominations and so that short little detour just got ignored and forgotten. Anyways, I think this is a good time to finally publish these images as I have now been monotonously stuck with the Northern side of the Vindyas for more than a year or so.

Jainism has always fascinated me. It is hard to imagine a religion so ancient and yet so well indoctrinated. For the uninitiated, there were twenty four chief propagators of the faith called Tirthankaras. The 24th one was Vardhamana Mahavira, who was more or less a contemporary of Buddha and a well known historical figure. So, how ancient must the first one be?

In general, Jains are most visible and dominant in the western India but there is a sizable community in the south too, especially in Karnataka. Shravanabelagola is a major Jain center in Karnataka not very far from Bangalore and I believe it has been continuously inhabited for more than two and a half millenniums considering the fact that Chandragupta Maurya breathed his last here sometime around 300 BC.

The main attractions at Shravanabelagola are scattered around two small hills, namely Chandragiri and Vindyagiri. Chandragiri is the one where Chandragupta spent the last days of his life after relinquishing power. Sadly I was extremely tired and unwell towards the last leg that I had to give up on this part (and I regret it till this date).

What we eventually did was to reach to top of Vindyagiri and visit the iconic and colossal monolithic statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali, which is fairly well known. While it is more famous compared to the Chnadragiri, it is actually a newer construction dating back to the 10th century AD.

Like any other archaeological site in India, these are complete with juvenile graffiti of hormonal lovebirds that we all know too well.

Apart from the gigantic statue, the temple complex also houses small statues of all the Tirthankaras and several other sculptures and inscriptions.

Finally, the view from the top is worthwhile too.

Jitaditya Narzary