Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Vindhyagiri (Indragiri) - A colossal Monolith Hill
Shravanabelagola town is 10km from Chananrayanpatna, it has two hillocks, Indragiri and Chandragiri. The former one is also known as Vindhyagiri, and stands 143 meters high. About five hundred steps lead to the top of this picturesque hillock where 58.6 ft high Bahubali (Gomata) statue stands.
The Jain religion is contemporary of Buddhism, believes in cycle of rebirths and consequently regards life as painful, longing for liberation. It came to Karnataka four centuries before the Christian era. The Gangas, Kadambas, Chalukyas and Hoysala kings had encouraged the Jainism. They have left innumerable shrines, Basadis, Gomata statues and Stambhas. The Shravanbelagola is also one of the important Jain monuments of Karnataka. Shravanabelagola has been great seat of learning for thousands of years and is home to some of the most beautiful Jain fine arts.
The steps leading to the Odegal Basti contains Adinatha, Neminatha and Shanthinatha icons. Odegal Basti is so called because of the stone props against its basement. It is only Trikutachala temple at Shravanbelagola. Built of granite blocks, it’s impressive for the commanding position it occupies. All the pillars in the main hall are circular in shape and the outer walls are very simple. In the three sanctums are beautiful images of Thirthankaras carved in schist. The temple is known as Trikuta Basadi.
The Tyagada Brahmadeva Pillar (980 AD.) has intricate carvings. Tyagada Kamba (pillar) is a small open pavilion with an upper storey is historically important. In the center of the pavilion is an elaborately carved pillar which is unmatched in artistic beauty. It was probably erected in the late 10th century. It’s believed that minister Chavunaraya distributed gifts to the needy and the deserving from here. Another view is that he renounced from here all his worldly possessions including his life.
The simple scroll designs elegant workmanship and bold lines bring out the best of the Ganga workmanship. The original inscription at the base was erased in about 1200 AD by Heggade Kanna. This Heggade installed the Yaksa image on top of this pillar and got a record engraved at its pedestal. Some 500 years later an upper Mantapa was built in brick and mortar.
The outer Prakara was erected during the time of Mysore Wodeyars at 17th century. The Siddhanta Basti at its southeast corner was built in the 14th century. It is notable for the 2 commemorative columns in the hall than for the image enshrined in the sanctum. These columns were erected in 1398 and 1432 in honor of saint Panditharadhya and Srtamuni respectively. The text of the second memorial was composed by Mangraja a famous Kannada poet.
The Wadeyar MAntapa on the western corner has a column which has a donatives record. One portion of this record tells how mortgaged property of the temple was got redeemed by the initiative of the Mysore king Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1634 AD. The other portion mentions the grants made for the upkeep of this center by King Dodda Krishnaraja Wodeyar in the 16th century.
Gullekayi Ajji Mantapa – An image of immense legendary interest is found in this Mantapa. Its open ground floor consists of 5 pillars, an inscription and an image the old lady (Gullekayi Ajji). The upper floor enshrines a Yaksha image. The large central pillar was cut out of a boulder in the 12th century. The inscription column was placed against the central pillar 1422 A.D., by Irugappa Dandanayaka. It mentions the gifts made by this general to Gommata.
The Image of GullekayiAjji wears a pleated saree. According to a local legend, Yakshi Padmavathi transformed herself into an old woman to humble the pride of Chavundaraya. The Gullakayajji sculpture is specimen of very fine workmanship. The Akanda Bagilu is a doorway carved out of single rock. The Siddaragunda is a massive-rock on which rows of Jina figures have been carved.
The Statue of Gommatesvara at Sravanabelagola, the tallest free standing stone sculpture in the world has given a unique and international cultural status toKarnataka. Sravanabelagola is the most sacred religious center of the Jainas. It has a hoary antiquity dating back to the third century B.C., when Bhadrabahu along with the Maurya king Chandragupta came and settled down here.
From then many Karnataka dynasties like the Gabgas of Talakad, the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, the rulers of Vijayanagara andothers patronized this Jaina sacred place. However it was during the period of Ganga king Rachamalla IV (9th century), the place became famous because his minister Chamunaraya consecrated this image of Gommatesvara on the summit of the hill commanding a picturesque view of the whole area. A large number of Jainatemples were built here at different periods by various dynasties which have made this center an open air museum of Jaina art.
The real attraction of Sharavanabelagola is the colossal image of Bahubali also known as Gommatesvara. Its height is 54 feet and is the tallest stone sculpture in the world. Theimage is nude and stands facing north in an erect yogic posture. It is a monolith carved around 980 A.D. and considered to be a landmark in the annals of world art. His broad shoulders are 26 feet across. He is a symbol of eternal value, absolute renunciation detachment, and a soul set free from material surroundings. The serene expression of the face is remarkable.
The hair is curly and the ears are long, the shoulders being broad and the arms hang down straight with the thumbs turned outwards. The lower portion adds majesty and grandeur. The entire image stands on a pedestal which is in the form of a lotus. The foot measures nine feet in length; the forefinger is 3 feet 6 inches; third is 4 feet 7 inches; the fourth finger is 2 feet 3 inches.
The face of Gommatesvara is most artistic and is a commentary on the success of the skill of the sculptor who carved it. The eyes are half open and the eyes balls appear as if real. This also symbolizes the pensive mood of the saint. The total effect is one of majesty, grace and dignity, and expresses his compassion towards the fellow beings and hence is considered as the best in this type.
Gommatesvara has been watching the human beings and their sufferings for the past one thousand years and people are looking at him for guidance for an ethical and religious life. Thus he is inspiring people to follow the path of Dharma. Once in twelve years a special ritual called Mahamastakabhisheka takes place when lakhs of people assemble here to be blessed by the compassionate Gommatesvara.
Location:UDUPI Shravanabelagula, Karnataka, India
I documents my visits to lesser known places in Soth India. It documents places nestled deep in the beauty of the Western Ghats and historical monuments.