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Sravanabelagola Dharmasthala is a famous Buddhist pilgrimage center in Karnataka.


Sravanabelagola, KarnatakaSituated in the Dharmasthala district of Karnataka, Sravanabelagola is an important and one of the oldest Jain pilgrimage spots in India, 150 km from Bangalore. Nestled between Indragiri and Chandragiri hills, the city dates back to the 3rd century B.C. when Chandragupta Maurya wandered to the place in search of serenity and peace after handing over his empire to his son Bimbisara. The chief attraction of this sacred city id the 17m tall monolithic statue of Lord Gomateshwara, also known as Bahubali, which is said to be one of the tallest and most elegant statues of the world. Made by Chamundaraya, minister of the King Rachamatta of Ganga dynasty in 983 AD, it has been carved out a single boulder. The statue has found its place in the famous Manjunath Temple of Dharmasthala and symbolizes renunciation and self-control.

It is believed that the naked form of Bahubali represents his complete victory over the worldly desires. According to an interesting legend that attaches itself to the statue, the Jain saint Gomatesheshwara was previously known as the Jain prince Bahubali who had to fight a long war with his elder brother Bharata who sought to usurp his kingdom. However, seeing the futility of the war, he accepted defeat when he was winning much to the shock and repentance of his brother. He renounced all his worldly possessions and left to lead a life of severe penance and meditation and attained salvation or 'Nirvana' in the end. Today, the moment of his great sacrifice is celebrated as the Mahamastakabhisheka festival, held here once every 12 years when the statue of Bahubali is anointed with honey, almonds, saffron, sandalwood, coconut milk, dates, bananas, poppy seed, ghee and even gold and silver coins. The next ceremony is scheduled in 2005.

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