"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions" ~ Dalai Lama



Sravanabelagola, a great centre for Jain culture is situated at a distance of about 100 kms from Mysore and is famous for its colossal statue of Gomateshwara who is also referred to as Lord Bahubali. Carved out of monolithic stone, the imposing 17 metre high statue of Gomata towers stands in majestic splendour and is visible even from a distance of 20 kms. Starkly simple, the beautifully chiselled features of the statue embody serenity. His perfect lips are turned out at the corners with a hint of a smile, viewing the world with detachment. Once in 12 years, the statue bathes in glory when a special ceremony called Mahamastakabhisekha takes place to anoint the Lord with thousands of pots of milk, coconut water, ghee, curds, saffron, jaggery, bananas and sandalwood paste. Literally a feast for the eyes!

Sravanabelagola attained historical importance when Chandragupta Maurya settled on this hill in the 3rd century B.C. along with his guru Bhagwan Bhadrabahu Swami after renouncing his kingdom.

Bhadrabahu's disciples spread the tenets of Jainism thus affording a firm base to the religion in the South. The religion also found immense patronage under the Gangas and the statue was erected by Chavundaraya, a military commander under King Rachamalla of the Ganga dynasty. It was sculpted by Aristanemi in 981 A.D.

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In addition to this statue, there are several Jain bastis (temples) and monasteries in Sravanabelagola and also on the nearby Chandragiri Hill. Of these, Chavundaraya Basti is of historical significance.


Belur and Halebid
The Hoysalas who ruled southern parts of Karnataka from the 11th to the 14th century have built more than 150 temples, each a masterpiece of creation and the temples of Belur, Halebid and Somanatha-pura are the pinnacle of this exuberant activity. Hailed as `nectar in stone' they are a tribute to that era. The Hoysala temples are built on a star-shaped pedestal and are centred around a pillared hall. The precise carving of the rounded surface of the pillars are so smooth they appear as if they are `lathe turned'. Every nook and corner of the temples pay delicate attention to the tiniest detail.

The Hoysaleshwara Temple at Halebid is one of the finest specimens of Hoysala creativity. Practically encyclopaedic in its sheer volume of carved pageantry, the temple has representations of Hindu deities, sages, birds, animals, hunting, agriculture, dance and music besides scenes of war.

Two open-pillared Nandi Mandapas are situated in front of the temple. There is also a smaller temple, the Kedareswara at Halebid.


Belur (156 km from Mysore, 40 km from Hassan, 222 km from Bangalore)
The Channakeshava temple at Belur which was built by the famous Hoysala ruler Vishnuvardhana in 1117 A.D. is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple was built to commemorate the king's conversion from Jainism to Vaishnava faith under the influence of Saint Ramanuja. The Gopuram of this temple is a later addition probably made by Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar. The most remarkable feature of this temple is the presence of 38 bracket figures of `Madanikas'. Beautiful, pensive, playful and amorous each figure is full of feminine grace and charm. One sculpted beauty wrings water from her long tresses and the drops of water are collected on hair ends. A thread inserted into the pupil of the eye emerges through the nose. The figures are so heavily ornamented they make us feel that perhaps the architects of the temple were originally jewellers by profession.

Halebid and Belur are only 16 kms apart and Hassan is the most convenient base to visit these places, as well as Sravanabelagola.


Hassan is linked by road to Bangalore and Mysore and the KSTDC runs conducted tours from Bangalore and Mysore to all the three places. Arasikere is yet another base to reach Belur and Halebid.

Hassan, Belur, Halebid and Sravanabelagola offer tourist accommodation including government run hotels.

(Information courtesy Karnataka Tourism Department)

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.