IntroductionThe temple town of Shavarnabelagola is the home to the famous Gommateshwara Statue in India. This is a holy place to visit for people belonging to the Jain community and other Hindus. At Shravanabelagola, every twelve years a grand pooja is performed for Lord Gommateshwara. This year it is being held from 17th February to 25th February 2018.
HistoryThe first of the Jain Tirthankaras was Bhagwan Rishabnath, his son was Bhagwan Bahubali who had renounced the worldly pleasures and attainted enlightenment here. The monolith statue, said to be the largest in the world stands at 57 feet at the summit of Vindhyagiri hills. The town of Shravanbelagola is important to Jainism as its link to the history and heritage of Jainism goes back to over 2000 years, even before the statue was created by Chavundaraya who also built the Chandragiri temple complex that is located on Chandragiri, the hill opposite Vindyagiri hill.
The MahamasthabhishekaThe Mahotsava was first started in 981 AD, during this 21st century, the 87th event had been held in 2006 and this is the 88th ceremony to be performed at the holy site. Around 1 million people are estimated to attend this year's function. During this festival, Lord Gommateshwara is bathed with water, sandalwood paste, and rice flour, saffron, gold, and silver flowers. This festival gives an insight into the lives of the Jains and their religious history. Thousands of devotees congregate to witness this grand spectacle and seek the blessings of Lord Gommateshwara.
This year, the district administration has planned to telecast the function as a live stream in a virtual reality format. People from all over the world can get access and see this event with VR glasses. A specific QR code is to be issued soon. A large exhibition (MMC Expo) is also being organized in the town under the auspices of Karnataka Exhibition Authority. There is a Mahamastakabisheka 2018 app also developed.
How to reach Shravanabelagola?This small town is located in the state of Karnataka. From Bangalore city, it is 157 km. Since there are no direct buses or trains, most people choose to travel by buses or cars from Bangalore or Mysore to reach Hassan (has a train station), from Hassan they take a bus or a private transport to reach Channarayapatna which is 11 km from Shravanabelagola. There are state transport buses between Bangalore/Mysore to Hassan, then between Hassan to Channarayapattana and the last leg from Channarayapattana to Shravanbelagola. The nearest airport is Bangalore airport.
FacilitiesThis small town has only the religious attraction and temples around it, people who want to just visit this place, 4-6 hours would suffice except during the Mahostava period. To reach the top of the Vindyagiri hill to see the statue, visitors need to climb 650-660 steps and is steep at many places. For people who cannot climb, there are chairs fashioned as palanquin which are carried by four people.
Food, refreshments and other basic amenities are available at the temple town itself. It is safer to have clean bottled water to drink and have it handy while climbing the hills. Drugs and alcohol is prohibited in the area. Accommodation can be found in Shravanabelagola, Channarayapatna, and Hassan. If you are planning to be there for this great event, be prepared for the crowd as literally thousands of devotees will be thronging the town and the hill temple.
If you are planning to visit at other times, you can include Shravanbelagola in the itinerary along with Mysore, Belur, Halebeedu or Bylakuppe (Tibetan monasteries) or even visit this on the way en route from Bangalore to Chikamanglur Coorg or Virajpet (all three are known for their coffee estates and hill station like atmosphere).
Contact detailsMahamasthakabhisheka 2018,
Secretary, Office of MMC-18
Javeri Dharamshala, Near KSRTC Bus Stand,
Shravanabelagola 573135. Karnataka, India
Mr. Vidyaprashath | +91-948-246-2326
Mr. Parashnath | +91-944-920-6319
What I feel that most of the people are confusing Lord Bhaubali or Gommateshwara with that of Lord Buddha. Though we have never seen Lord Buddha statue in the standing posture, how come people have the doubts in this regard. It is better the author gives further input on the matter and give clarification so that people would visit the Mahamastabishekha with much reverence. And also inform whether there would be religious activities on other days or during the summer holidays so that many would have the vocational holidays and can plan a grand visit to this religious place and have the appreciation and blessings of Lord Gommateshwara.
Often unfamiliar people get confused with the statues of Lord Mahavir and Lord Buddha. The statue of Lord Gommateshwara (Bhaubali) is characterized by his erect posture (Kayotsarga or standing meditation posture) and arms by the side with plant creepers on his legs and arms. His statue does not depict any clothes on his body.
For summer holidays, it would be better to plan the visit in the morning before the heat of the Summer sun makes the steep steps very uncomfortable or too hot. Although shoes are not allowed, you can carry a new pair of socks or buy one in the shops for children and the elderly.
The temple is open from 6 AM- 6:30 PM. At times, the temple may be closed between 11:30-3:30 PM but the giant statue can be seen from a distance itself.
At Sharavanabelagola, daily pooja is done in the mornings by 8:00 AM-8:30 AM. Padha pooja is the common pooja as the idol is so huge that a traditional abhisheka is not feasible.
The 88th Mahamastakabhiseheka starts today at Shravanabelagola. It is 7th Feb instead of 17th Feb as announced on the website. The President of India, the Governor and the CM of Karnataka are to be there for the function.