By Raman Kumar Mandal
Shravanabelgola is a city located in the Hasan district of Karnataka.The statue of Gomateshwara or Bahubali at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. Shravanabelagola which is also known as \”the white pond of the Sravana\” or \”the Jain monk\” is named with reference to the colossal Jain image of the place and its prefix Shravana that also serves to distinguish it from other Belgolas with the prefixes Hale and Kodi. The derivation of the word \’Belagola\’ appears to have been from the two Kannada words Bel (white) and Kola (pond) in allusion to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town. The Sanskrit equivalents Sveta-sarovara, Dhavala sarovara and Dhavala-saras used in the inscriptions that support the derivation of this word from the two Kannada words. Some inscriptions mention the name of the place as Belgula (or also Belugula and Belagula) which have given rise to another derivation from the plant called white gulla (Solanum ferox). This derivation is in allusion to a tradition which says that a pious old woman completely anointed the colossal image with the milk brought by her in a gullakayi or gulla fruit. The place is also designated as Devara Belagola (Belgola of the God) and Gommatapura (the city of Gommata, the name of the colossus) in some epigraphs. Further, the epithet Dakshinakasi or southern Kasi is applied to it in some modern records.
There are two hills,Chandragir(Chikkabetta) and Vindyagiri. The last shruta-keval Bhadrabahu Swami and his pupil Chandragupta Maurya (formerly the King), is believed to have meditated there.Chandragupta Basadi, which was dedicated to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, was originally built there by Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC. Chandragiri also has memorials to numerous monks and Shravakas, who have meditated there since the fifth century AD, including the last King of the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta.
The 57 feet monolithic statue of the Bhagvan Gomateshwar Bahubali is located on the Vindyagiri. It is considered to be the world\’s largest monolithic stone statue and was erected by Chamundaraya, a general of King Gangaraya. The base of the statue has an inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi dating from 981 AD. The inscription praises the Ganga king who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds,ghee,saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018.
More than 800 inscriptions have been found at Shravanabelagola, dating to various times from 600 to 1830. A large number of these are found in the Chandragiri and the rest can be seen in the Indragiri and the town. Most of the inscriptions at the Chandragiri date back before the 10th century.