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Shravanabelagola is a small town in the Hassan District of Karnataka, and is one of the most impressive Jain pilgrim centers in India. The town is famed for its scenic beauty, as well as for its religious sanctity. Apart from holding historical and architectural significance, the site is also considered to be one of the most sacred places for the Digambara Jains. Pilgrims here come from far and wide to pay homage to the two most important figures of Jainism - Acharya Bhadrabahu and Emperor Chandragupta Maurya.

Shravanabelagola Highlight
The highlight of this pilgrimage centre is the 57ft. tall statue of Gommateshwara or Bahubali, considered to be the spiritual hero of Jainism. The statue has been ranked as the first of the ‘Seven Wonders of India’. Every 12 years, the idol is celebrated by the Jains and other pilgrims from around the country for 12 days, commemorating the enlightenment and spiritual liberation of Bahubali.

The statue is located above Indragiri Hill, and was instilled by the Ganga Kingdom General Chavundaraya in 981 AD. The base of the statue has inscriptions in Kannada and Tamil, and also has the oldest evidence of written Marathi. The inscription praises the Ganga king who funded the effort, and his general Chavundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Beautifully carved, single block nude stone sculpture of Lord Gommateshwara is in the posture of meditation known as Kayotsarga, symbolizing renunciation, self-control and subjugation of ego as the first steps towards salvation.

Historical and religious significance
The town and the statue here gained immense popularity among the Jain pilgrims. Since the tenth century, the place has been commemorating warriors and the devotees who have chosen to fast to death at this holy place. The open eyed statue of Gommateshwara represents his detachment from the material world. The entire structure stands on a fully bloomed lotus, thus representing his completeness in the other life. The pilgrim site of Shravanabelagola and the statue of Bahubali reflect strength, willpower and sacrifice of the Jains and invite people from all across the country and the world, to come and experience its greatness.

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