Shravanabelagola is famous for its giant monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali. It is called monolithic because it is carved from a single slab of granite. The statue stands on a hill and is one of the most famous sites of Jain pilgrimage in the world.
Shravanabelagola is a city located near Channarayapatna of Hassan district in Karnataka, India. Chandragupta Maurya, the emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, is said to have died here after he became a Jain monk and assumed a self- disciplined lifestyle. Jainism in this place is more than 2000 years old.
At more than 50 feet high, it is the tallest free-standing statue in the world and is visible even from a distance of 20 km. The beautifully chiselled features of the statue project a sense of calmness. His perfect lips are turned out at the corners with a hint of a smile, viewing the world with detachment.
The imposing and grand monument of Lord Bahubali was installed by King Veera Pandya Bairarasa at the behest of his guru Sri Lalithakeerthi, Jain head priest of Karkala Jain math, in 1432 AD.
It is a ritualistic process of pouring holy water to cleanse the statue. Items such as tender coconut water, sugarcane juice, kashkachoorna (paste made of various medicinal plants) and sandalwood paste are poured one after the other until Lord Bahubali is completely covered with each one of them.
Religious leaders say there is belief that it would cleanse those who witness the ceremony. Each ingredient poured on the lord has its own significance - water to cleanse, sandalwood to spread the fragrance of Bahubali's virtues, milk as a symbol of purity, cane juice to relieve hunger and kashkachoorna to beautify.
On the first day of the event, 108 kalashas are poured on the statue. The number goes on increasing by 100 on each day and on the last day, 1008 kalasha abhishekas are offered to Bahubali.
Apart from Shravanabelagola, there exists a total of three towering monolithic statues of Lord Bahubali: one at Karkala, another one at Venur and the third one at Dharmasthala. Among them, the Karkala Gomateshwara is the tallest.