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600-odd steps, a colossal monolith and delightful views

Just as summer temperatures were beginning to take over the really-short spring season that the Indian subcontinent gets, we decided to hit what I’d like to call ‘Karnataka’s Sculptural Triangle...
Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola

Just as summer temperatures were beginning to take over the really-short spring season that the Indian subcontinent gets, we decided to hit what I’d like to call ‘Karnataka’s Sculptural Triangle just a stone’s throw from Bengaluru. Ok, that might seem like a little bit of an exaggeration but Shravanabelagola, Belur and Halebeedu are places that are not very far from the Capital City.

Although we could have done it all in a day, our Shravanabelagola-Belur-Halebeedu plan was stretched into a weekend trip so there would be ample time to appreciate the art and architectural spread we were going to treat ourselves to.

I wanted to get to Shravanabelagola as early as possible so as to start the climb up ‘the hill’ before the sun was really upon us. By the time we got there (after a couple of breaks on the way; we travel with 2 kids under the age of 10) it was past 10 in the morning. It was not as early as I would have liked it to be but then if not then, the temperatures would have only risen. Deciding to make the most of the day, my five year old and I decided to take off, leaving daddy and the littlest one to take it easy in some conditioned air.

We dropped off our footwear for some safekeeping and began the ascent up Vindhyagiri Hill. Atop Vindhyagiri Hill is an age-old Jain temple and in it, is a 57-foot colossus of Bahubali, popularly known as Gomateshvara. A walk up the 600-odd steps of the hill is the way to see all of  this monolithic statue that is said to be one of the biggest ones ever. (Now if you cannot do the climb, you can be carried up the hill on a cane chair; palanquin fashion or will have make do with seeing the head and shoulder of the figure from afar.)

Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola

As we started up Vindhyagiri, we were welcomed by ‘easy riser’ steps and in my mind I was saying, ‘this looks easy-peasy lemon squeazy.’ I didn’t say it aloud not wanting to give false hopes to the little boy who was eager to see a gigantic statue and who was insistent on accompanying me up that hill. (When I asked him if he was sure he could walk up 600 hundred steps he went into pleading mode and kept telling me, I’m brave; I can go all the way up).  I knew the climb would get tougher. The easy risers soon gave way to higher steps and my legs were beginning to feel the strain. A few rest-cum-photo breaks later were up there, albeit a bit exhausted.

I was surprised by the fact that the ascent was not as bad as I thought it would be, and my sonny boy got up there with absolutely no fuss and no drama.

It took us around half an hour to get to the top of Vindhagiri Hill and it was totally worth it, for we got to to see the nearly 60-foot monolith we had come to see and we were rewarded with scenic views too, which was like a bonus.

Vindhyagiri Hill, Shravanabelagola
Shravanabelagola, Hassan
Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola

 

Who was Gomateshwara?

And why he is naked here (in Shravanabelagola)?

Gomateshwara was one of the sons of the first Thirthankara (a spiritual teacher of the Jains), who used to be a prosperous ruler called Vrishabhadeva. Sometime after the king had given up his  throne, the kingdom went through a troubled period, which saw siblings fight for their royal ambitions. Bahubali is said to have won the power struggle only to find that material wealth and power did not seem right for him. As such, he is said to .have renounced all his worldly possesions and taken to  meditation in order to seek that enlightened state

The statue

The nakedness is a sign of owning nothing. The creepers on Gomateshwara’s limbs symbolise the long period he spent meditating; so do the anthills and the snakes by his feet

Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola
Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola
Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola

After having seen the gargantuan monolith, we walked around taking in the scenes from the hilltop and then went on to rest our feet for a few minutes. A little rest and a sip of water later, we began that downhill walk and wasn’t it ‘easy peasy lemon squeasy!’ The kindergartener sure seemed to agree. By the time we got to the bottom, he was hungry and my legs were feeling a bit wobbly from the exertion because I hadn’t exactly been physically active for some time leading up to that walk up Vindhagiri in Shravanabelagola.

Gomateshwara, Shravanabelagola

Note:

  • The summer might NOT be a good time to walk up to the Gomateshwara on Vindhyagiri.
  • You might want to carry some water if you are not comfortable drinking the portable water in the temple premises.
  • If you think you will find yourself walking up or down that hill around midday, you might want to consider carrying some socks to be a little kinder to those soles, which are to be exposed to burning-hot hillside steps.
  • This is also a place of pilgrimage so keeping your volume down and respecting the spiritual air would be a really considerate thing to do on this trip.
If you liked this post, you might also like —
(Lepakshi is also an easy drive from Bengaluru.)

 

 
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56 Comments on this post.
  • Anu n Sri
    10 September 2015 at 10:41 pm
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    Gorgeous pictures. The close up pictures of Gomateshwara's fingers and feet gives me goosebumps. Very nice write up D.

    • dNambiar
      12 September 2015 at 1:30 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you, Anu. I thought the hands and feet were perfect. Those feet are so photogenic too. 🙂
      Thanks again, Anu.
      I hope you guys are doing good and having fun country-hopping. 😉

  • Ravish Mani
    11 September 2015 at 2:56 am
    Leave a Reply

    Great capture, Divya. Loved the story of Gomateshvara Bahubali. And hats off to the spirit of your 5 yrs young son. I'll always remember him while doing tough works.

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • dNambiar
      12 September 2015 at 1:43 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you so much, Ravish.
      The boy loves travelling, seeing places and taking pictures too. He's surprised us a few times with the amount of walking he can do when he so badly wants to see something. 😀

      Thanks again, Ravish.
      You have a great weekend too. 🙂

  • Prasad Np
    11 September 2015 at 6:09 am
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    Truly Incredible India, this is long on wishlist. I have a postage stamp with the Gomateswara idol on it…but your pictures truly give a sense of size of the statue

    • dNambiar
      12 September 2015 at 1:50 am
      Leave a Reply

      Incredible indeed.
      Shravanabelagola had been on MY wishlist for a really long time.
      The climb up that hill was so worth it, Prasad. I hope you'll get to go there soon. Don't go in the summer, tho' 🙂

      Thank you so much for the appreciation, DesiTraveler. 🙂

  • Ramakrishnan Ramanathan
    11 September 2015 at 7:59 am
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    Certainly an awe inspiring experience ! Children generally stand up to the rigors of such climbs much better and are generally at the top much before us 🙂

    • dNambiar
      12 September 2015 at 1:51 am
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      It WAS awe-inspiring — the statue, the views from the top of the hill and the boy I walked up with. 🙂

  • Panchali
    11 September 2015 at 7:22 pm
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    Very impressive travelogue, Divya! The statue looks truly majestic. The architecture is mesmerizing undoubtedly. Lovely pics and very useful info…..thank you for sharing 🙂

    • dNambiar
      12 September 2015 at 2:00 am
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      Majestic it is, Panchali di. Perfectly chiselled too.
      Ah! the feet — you should see it.
      Thank you so much, Panchali di. 🙂 <3

  • Archana Kapoor
    14 September 2015 at 2:49 am
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    Fantastic captures Dee… loved the Buddha images… 🙂

    • Indrani
      14 September 2015 at 4:01 am
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      Archana… 🙂

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 6:58 pm
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      Bahubali. 😉
      Thank you, Archana. 🙂

  • Deepa Gopal Sunil
    14 September 2015 at 2:58 am
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    I have been there as a child…nostalgic! Awesome pics 🙂

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:01 pm
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      You have? I'm sure you remember the climb. 🙂 All worth it, alle?
      Thanks Deepa.

  • Indrani
    14 September 2015 at 4:01 am
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    This is one gem of a place in our Indian heritage map. I have been there 3 times and would love to go again.
    Thanks for this virtual tour.

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:05 pm
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      It really is. I've been wanting to see it for ever.
      Finally!!
      I think I might go again too, only I'd go when it is cooler.

      You're welcome Indrani. Thank you. 🙂

  • Arun Prasadh
    14 September 2015 at 4:34 am
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    Beautiful place. Nice pics.

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:07 pm
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      It really is. I'm glad I went up there.
      Thank you, Arun. 🙂

  • Rajesh
    14 September 2015 at 4:43 am
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    You have covered this place very well.

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:08 pm
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      Thank you, Rajesh.
      This place is amazing.

  • Maitreni Mishra
    14 September 2015 at 4:54 am
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    Breathtaking snaps! Very beautifully presented! 🙂

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:11 pm
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      The place and views and the statue is quite breathtaking, really.
      And the climb — literally breathtaking. 😀

      Thank you, Maithreni. 🙂

  • Mridula
    14 September 2015 at 5:14 am
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    Wow your young son walked all the way up! Give him a pat on the back from my side too! 600 steps are a lot.

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:17 pm
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      I'll do that Mridula. 🙂
      Yeah, 600 steps are a lot, especially when he's usually complaining about the walk around the supermarket. 😀

      Thank you, Mridula. 🙂

  • Sri Kri
    14 September 2015 at 5:15 am
    Leave a Reply

    Wonderful account of this beautiful place.Amazing shots.
    Hats off to your little one.:).

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:19 pm
      Leave a Reply

      It is a great place, really.
      Thank you so much, Sriram, Krithiga. 🙂

      Gosh, I dunno what I would have done if we were half way up he said he couldn't do it, anymore. 😐
      🙂

  • Kokila Gupta
    14 September 2015 at 6:58 am
    Leave a Reply

    Great captures D and all the relevant information . Bahubali is indeed a great place for a one day trip which can be easily converted into two days as many good accommodation options are there .well I have yet to visit it but my Jain relatives are regular visitors there. 600 odd steps ..hmm … nice post girl 🙂

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:22 pm
      Leave a Reply

      We actually stayed near Belur.
      Yeah, over 600, they say. 😉

      You have to go up there, Kokila. Just make sure it's not a hot day.
      Thank you my friend. 🙂

  • Somali K Chakrabarti
    14 September 2015 at 8:56 am
    Leave a Reply

    D. Loved your description of Shravanabelagola. Awesome shots of Gomateshwara. Great to know that your kids willingly walked up & down 600 steps. Not an easy task.

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:26 pm
      Leave a Reply

      I've always wanted to see the humongous statue. What I didn't know was that the views from the hill would be amazing too. I should put up a different post with just the vistas. That was a treat, really. 🙂

      I should take my littlest one up sometime. She's not yet two, now.

      Thank you, Somali. 🙂

    • Somali K Chakrabarti
      16 September 2015 at 1:24 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Your enthusiasm is understandable D, but she is still a small baby. Wait for her to grow up a lil more, so that she is able to appreciate and remember it for long. 🙂

    • dNambiar
      17 September 2015 at 6:50 am
      Leave a Reply

      I'm definitely not going up until she turns 5 at least. But who knows she just may not be as enthusiastic as her big brother so we may not even do that together. 🙂

  • Bikram
    14 September 2015 at 1:21 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Those are some great captures and I got to know more about him… so THANK YOU.

    Bikram's

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:31 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you, Bikram.
      🙂
      Have a great week. 🙂

  • specs buffy
    14 September 2015 at 1:57 pm
    Leave a Reply

    The largeness of this statue is well brought out in this lovely post..truly magnificient..feel like going back there one more time but thinking if the climbing …mammoth as the Bahubali himself!

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:36 pm
      Leave a Reply

      It is huge. Seeing those pictures from the Mahamastakabisheka and seeing how tiny the priests looked at this Bahubali's feet only made me desperate to see this sculpture.

      Thank you so much, Sunita. And thank you for visiting Tipsy from the TRIP:)

      I'm sure you're dreading the climb. Yes. that is a mammoth climb, really. 🙂

  • Shrinidhi Hande
    14 September 2015 at 7:27 pm
    Leave a Reply

    nice. I went to shravanabelagola but could not go up. Still pending task for me

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:38 pm
      Leave a Reply

      You should go before it gets hot again, Shrinidhi. You'll love the place and the all that it has shows you. The views are beautiful.
      I hope to read about your trip, soon. 🙂

  • sunaina sharma
    14 September 2015 at 7:32 pm
    Leave a Reply

    what a wonderful place to go to….felt puny against the monolithic meditative saint……

    • dNambiar
      14 September 2015 at 7:40 pm
      Leave a Reply

      It is. And it turned out to be more rewarding than I thought it would be.
      That really is a gigantic figure.

      Thank you for stopping by, Sunaina. 🙂

  • rudraprayaga
    17 September 2015 at 5:20 pm
    Leave a Reply

    awesome clicks and inspiring tips.

    • dNambiar
      21 September 2015 at 12:04 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you.
      And welcome here. 🙂

  • magiceye
    18 September 2015 at 1:21 am
    Leave a Reply

    Comprehensive post about Shravanbelagola!

    • dNambiar
      21 September 2015 at 12:04 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you, Magiceye. 🙂

  • R Niranjan Das
    18 September 2015 at 12:21 pm
    Leave a Reply

    I still remember the climb I did 7 years back. Quite a climb at 12 noon. 🙂 Seeing Gomateshwara after the climb was the best thirst quencher. Wonderful post, Nambiare.

    • dNambiar
      21 September 2015 at 12:08 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thirst quencher?! I know what you mean.
      That climb was worth it, wasn't it Nomad. 🙂

      Thank you so much. 🙂

  • Ram & Reshma
    22 September 2015 at 12:43 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Beautiful pictures and brilliant write up. Thanks to you it is now on our bucket list 🙂

    • dNambiar
      23 September 2015 at 1:11 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you Ram and Reshma. Nice to hear that. 🙂
      Welcome to Tipsy from the TRIP.

      I hope you guys have a good trip to Shravanabelagola.

  • umashankar
    23 September 2015 at 3:26 am
    Leave a Reply

    Lately, I have been getting jealous of you for getting so much time in the world for all those wanderings and weekend trips. But that is beside the point. Whenever I see monoliths and impossible structures I wonder who must have toiled to give them those forms and shapes and I think of Bamiyan Buddha too. You have woven the pristine images well into the crisp narration.

    • dNambiar
      2 October 2015 at 1:41 pm
      Leave a Reply

      🙂
      I fight to make time for these trips. It's so worth it. 😀

      This one was amazing! I've wanted to see Gomateshwara for a long time now. The sheer size of this monolith made me want to see it. I was so, so wowed by it. It is truly a piece of art; a humongous one at that. It is sad that there seems to be no mention of the person who crafted the granite to this kind of perfection; only that of the Ganga Dynasty who seem to have commissioned it.

      Thank you so much, USP. It is always great to see your comment here. 🙂

  • dreamtemples
    28 October 2015 at 3:29 am
    Leave a Reply

    I visited Shravanbelagola many years ago with my parents.Reading your post brought back all those lovely memories. Thank you.
    This is my first time here and your blog is really wonderful.

    • dNambiar
      14 June 2016 at 2:29 am
      Leave a Reply

      So nice to know that this post rekindled your memories.
      Welcome here.
      Thank you so much. 🙂

  • Pradhan
    10 June 2016 at 8:13 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Very nice article.

    • dNambiar
      14 June 2016 at 2:30 am
      Leave a Reply

      Thank you Pradhan.
      A big welcome to you too. 🙂

  • Found in Lepakshi | Ancient Indian murals | Tipsy from the TRIP
    16 January 2017 at 6:28 am
    Leave a Reply

    […] 600-odd steps and a colossal monolith […]

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