A call on November first week from principal and professor of Adichunchanagiri college of pharmacy, Karnataka about conduct of University examination for MPharm was a bit surprise for me. Nonetheless I accepted the offer after knowing the caller was an old student (studied more than 25 years ago) and the college is located in Mandya District and close to Hassan, a convenient base to visit Shravanabelagola. My wife joined me and we reached Bengaluru on 17th November, 2013 by Puducherry Yashantapur Garib Rath train. We reached the college, approx 110 KM west of Bengaluru at B G Nagar, by riding a car through excellent Bengaluru-Mangalore NH 75 with an expert chauffeur Kumar within 1 hour 20 minutes and was provided a room (Room no 16) in their guest house – a place to experience unruffled calm in a serene and pleasant climate.
The principal made the plan to visit Shravanabelagola on next day morning i.e. 18th November (approx 34 KM from college campus). Our trip started at around 5.50 AM. We had a tea at a restaurant near KSRTC bus stop just a stone throw distance from college campus. Our drive (by principal) was a Maruti Swift, and we were soon cruising down 6-lane National Highway 75. Traffic was lighter and road till Hirisave ( a nondescript small place) is a pleasure. We just couldn’t take our eyes off the picturesque view through the window panel of the car. After taking the left at Hirisave, we were in the countryside of Karnataka – we passed through the firms and villages – nestled in the forests of coconut trees and little homes and occasionally there was bus stop where children and villagers waiting for transport and waved as the car goes by and finally arrived at the town of Shravanabelagola.
Shravanabelagola, an important Jain pilgrim centre, is a sleepy town settled amid two rocky hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri (or Indragiri), with a pond nestled between them. The town is 51 KM south-east of Hassan and approx 144 KM west of Bengaluru via NH 75 and through Hirisave as mentioned above. The town name is believed to be derived from two words “Shravana” means Jain Monk and “Belagola” translates to white pond. The 57 feet high monolithic statue of Lord Gomateshwara (also known as Lord Bahubali), a Jain Monk, is standing atop Vindhyagiri.
Around 620 rock-cut steps exist between the base of the Vindhyagiri and the courtyard of the statue. The gigantic structure was carved elegantly in 980 AD is an architectural marvel (perfect symmetry in stone) of Gomateshwara. We reached the top after climbing the 620 rock-cut steps, we caught a glimpse of Lord Bahubali from the entrance of courtyard where it is situated. The structure is minimalist that advocates the philosophy of Jainism.
The face of Bahubali with curled looks exudes tranquility. Creepers entwine the whole body to depict that the time He might have spent meditating before attaining bliss. The ancient workmanship has withstand the test of time that means to build a structure to last forever. We were given access to the very top of the temple – where we saw an unparalleled view of the statue and the whole town of Shravanabelagola.
After half an hour we came down easier than climbing albeit with cautious. Just opposite on the smaller Chandragiri are some Jain temples and samadhi of Chandragupta Maurya , that we couldn’t visit due to lack of time and energy. We had a good breakfast at town and returned to the campus around 9.00 AM.