Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Trip to Shravanabelagola

Last week myself and my wife decided to visit Shravanabelagola, the ancient statue of Lord Gomateshwara (Bahubali) which is said to be the tallest monolith in the world. I consulted my office friends and also searched on internet to know about the route and the history of shravanabelagola and the bus timings. We decided to go on a Saturday as it was my weekly off-day at office and my wife planned to take leave.

On Saturday early morning we woke up early at 4.30 am, packed the travel accessories and got ready for the trip. I was very much excited as we will be going out of this busy city,concrete jungle, traffic jams for few hours. The previous night it had rained heavily and it was still cloudy in the morning. We started from house on my bike at 5.30 am, reached Majestic Bus Station(I like to ride at early morning hours as this is the only time you can get clean and empty roads in Bangalore), parked my bike at pay-n-park. I was told that we need to catch a bus to Hassan and get down at Channarayanapatna and from there need to catch another bus to Shravanabelagola. When we went inside the bus stand and inquired with the Driver of Hassan going bus, he informed that there is a direct bus to Shravanabelagola. It was very nice to hear that and we got a direct bus to Shravanabelagola which was to depart at 7.00am. We were the first passenger to get inside the bus. As there was still time left for the bus to depart, so we went and bought some snacks. Soon the bus got filled with passengers and the bus started at sharp 7.00am (I was surprised to see the punctuality).

The travel was very pleasant. The road was very good with big trees on both sides of the road. The sun was playing hide and seek in the overcast sky. The greenery outside was very refreshing for the eyes. Coconut and sugarcane plantations were there outside. My mind went back to my native on watching the natural beauty outside. The bus halted at a hotel near Adi chinchinagiri Medical college for 15 minutes. Both of us just had a coffee from there. I noticed on the way that almost all the houses had dish antenna.

We reached Shravanabelagola at around 10.15am. I asked the driver about the last return bus to Bangalore. He informed that the last bus depart from Shravanabelagola at 3.00pm. From the Bus Stand I could see the Vindhyagiri Hill and the temple over it. we could see people climbing the steps as small ants moving. Shravanabelagola is a small town and has many small shops at the foothill. We went to a hotel (Raghu Hotel) which is near the entrance gate to Vindhyagiri Hill and had Masala dosa, vada and a tea (and it was really good). I could see that most of the people were from the West and North India.

Shravanabelagola is a historical and one of the most important Jain Pilgrimage centre and the 9th Century Statue of Lord Gomateshwara is on the top of the vindhyagiri Hill. The Vindhyagiri is said to be one single solid rock and the 58 feet tall statue of Bahubali is said to be carved out of a single rock. There are two main hills - Vindhyagiri and Chandragiri. The sharavanabelagola town and a pond (Kalyani pond) are inbetween the two hills.

After having our breakfast from the hotel we started our journey to the top of the Vindhyagiri hill. At the entrance it was written that footwears are not allowed, so we handed over our footwear at footwear counter. Steps are carved on the hill to climb till the top. There are approximately 630 steps. There are some special palanquins available for people who are not able to climb the hill on foot. It is a wonderful experience to climb barefoot because as you go up the view of the town and the vast distant hill and lands is indescribable. As were halfway, we could see the temple on the adjacent temple chandragiri and the beautiful pond below. Lot of coconut trees were visible. I took some snaps of the mandapams and temples and the carvings on the rocks. There were some scriptures written on the rocks, I could not make out the language. I could see a lot of pictures of Hindu God and Goddess on the rocks.

We then reached the top of the hill and entered the temple and got the glimpse of the Bahubali statue in full. I looked at the statue and felt that the vast blue sky was the perfect background for that statue. The statue is a marvel of architecture with its simplicity. The statue is made thousand of years ago and was made with primitive tools (In 981 A.D., Chavundaraya, the minister of the Ganga King Rachamalla had this statue carved). I was thinking how perfect the architect would be because a single mistake of the tool might have made them go in search of another hill and rock and restart the job.
Gommateshvara, or Bahubali, is the son of Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. He won everything from his brother and could have become an emperor; and yet, in utter selflessness he returned everything to the brother. Bahubali is the ideal man who conquers selfishness, jealousy, pride and anger.

We sat there at the temple and I was looking at the face of the statue. There was a small smile on the lips of the statue and the eyes were staring at eternity. I was thinking how long has this statue been standing there facing all the rain, storms and still staring straight. Many devotees were performing Abhishekam on the statue with Milk, turmeric, flower etc and it was a great sight. We sat there for sometime. When we were about to leave, I had a strange feeling, I was thinking that the statue will be there in the posture for thousand of years and people will keep comming, sit, pray and go back and they will die.

We then climbed down and it was afternoon, the sun was really getting hot. We climbed down the hill very fast. Had some juices to beat the thirst and heat and then we climbed the next hill -Chandragiri hill. It is comparatively smaller hill but there are a lot of temples on the hill. We rested for a while under a huge rock.
This hill got its name from Chandragupta Mourya, the 300BC Indian emperor, who left his throne and walked all the way to the hill from his capital at Magadha. He spent his last days in a cave on the top of the hill.Then we walked to the ancient Jain temple nearby. I was surprised to read in a board placed there that this temple is 2300 years old. I think this would be the oldest building I have ever seen. We walked through the temples and climbed down. It was already 1.30pm. We visited another Jain ashram nearby. I purchased a book on history of Shravanabelagola and Lord Gomateshwara. The visit made me more curious about the Jain religion and there culture. Though my wife got tired of climbing the hill, she very much liked the trip.
We came back to Bus station as the last bus to Bangalore was at 3.00 pm. At Bus station we saw a lot of college students and they were making a lot of noise. Afterwards we came to know that one among them was leaving the college and so all his friends has come to see-off him. The bus came on time and we got seated. As the bus was about to leave I saw that the college students were getting very emotional as their friend was departing, some of them were crying, the boy who was leaving was hugging each and every friend.
Inside my mind I felt that I am leaving this beautiful place with a lot of memories and outside the college students were giving emotional farewell to the friend.
On the way back it rained inbetween and I watched the rain drenched scenic beauty outside. We reached Majestic Bus station at 6.30pm. We took the bike and returned home. Again we were held up in traffic jam, vehicle horns, traffic lights, crowds and lot of noises. I was thinking of the peaceful moment a few hours earlier. I was tired but inside I was planning for my next trip.
". . .travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." -Miriam Beard


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:11 AM  

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