Sravanabelagola, Karnataka, India

This is one of the oldest and most important Jain pilgrimage centers in India, and the site of the huge 17m-high naked statue of Bahubali (Gomateshvara). It was carved out of granite in 981 AD during the reign of the Ganga king, Rachamalla. Said to be the world's tallest monolithic statue, it overlooks the sedate country town of Sravanabelagola ("Monk of the White Pond") from the top of the rocky hill known as Indragiri. Its simplicity and serenity is in complete contrast to the complexity and energy of the sculptural work at the nearby temples of Belur and Halebid. Sravanabelagola has a long historical pedigree dating back to the 3rd century BC when Chandragupta Maurya came here with his guru after renouncing his kingdom.    [-- Adapted from the Lonely Planet, India, 1999]


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