Śravaṇa Beḷagoḷa (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ): First stop on our three-day trip out of Bangalore, India, this ancient…

Śravaṇa Beḷagoḷa (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ): First stop on our three-day trip out of Bangalore, India, this ancient Indian town wedged between two rocky hills, gets its name from a tranquil reservoir (literally, “white tank of the monk”). A barefoot climb up ~650 steps hewn into the granite took us to a 57 foot monolithic statue, carved from a single stone, said to be the tallest of its kind.

• Nearly 1,800 years old, the statue of the naked Gomateshwara (a Jain monk) is symbolic of renunciation of worldly pleasures. According to legend, the prince Bahubali threw down his weapons after a hollow victory over his brother Bharatha for the throne. Meditating in penance, anthills grew at his feet and vines coiled around his limbs, as seen in the statue. Inscriptions dating back prior to 10th century AD include texts in Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Marwari and Mahajani languages. They describe the rise of dynasties of Gangas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas and other empires. More on the beautiful carvings of the Hoysala dynasty in my next post.


• From the hilltop, where a cool breeze rewarded our exertions, we watched school children march in a straggly Independence Day parade with their youthful voices singing the national anthem. A few naked monks strolled nonchalantly past us while my 13 year old remarked that a _namaskara_  (lying prostate at the feet of elders or holy people) might be a “bit dicey” given the view.

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75 Responses to Śravaṇa Beḷagoḷa (Kannada: ಶ್ರವಣಬೆಳಗೊಳ): First stop on our three-day trip out of Bangalore, India, this ancient…

  1. That is a great picture.

  2. Great shot.  I only when as far south as Bangalore.

  3. Kawthar A says:

    Thanks for this great album! Rajini Rao 

    I always wanted to visit India, such a magical country!!!!

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Yes, that is not uncommon for temples. I was the only skeptic and wore an old pair of socks but the whole place was surprisingly clean.

  5. Giles Crouch says:

    India is such an awesome country! Architecture, food, people…love going there!

  6. Chad Haney says:

    Nice pics. In Thailand they also require women to cover up if they have shorts/skirt or are sleeveless. What’s with the time stamps Rajini Rao Reminds me of the old Kodak days.

  7. Rajini Rao says:

    Yeah. Shame on me.

    Later, I relented and took them off. I have a picture of my toes on granite for later 🙂

  8. Chad Haney says:

    So Westernized, right Dan?

  9. Kawthar A says:

    i always wear socks when i enter a mosque, i will not walk there barefoot! 😛

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Chad Haney , no cover ups required in the south. Sikh temples in the north require head covering for both men and women. Remember, there were nekkid monks walking around..what’s a bare arm or two?

    The time stamped pix come from my husband’s Nokia. He just bought it, no idea why when the Canon EOS Rebel is so good. His excuse was the zoom lens, or some such thing.

  11. Kawthar A says:

    Nooo, they are so clean, but i think i’m so a city girl, i must show you my pix when i was in the mosque wearing my Burberry scarf on my head, looks like an alien! 😛 Gnotic Pasta 

  12. Achintya Rao says:

    Near Karkala! Nice! Been years since I visited.

  13. Kawthar A says:

     i will share that pix with you guys later! 😉

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Naked holy men are common in India (Hinduism and related off shoots like Jainism). An amusing part of the marriage ceremony is when the groom declares that he will renounce worldly pleasures (!) to head to the mountains as a monk. He must carry a bamboo stick and bowl for alms and start walking out. The bride’s uncle has to intervene and persuade him to stay and get married instead, saying that samsara is another form of fulfillment. Much hilarity ensued when my uncle took his time in calling Ananth back. I was told that the backward glances were getting a tad desperate 🙂

  15. Beautiful shots and good info.

  16. Achintya Rao says:

    Rajini Rao: Renunciation FTW. 😉

  17. Rajini Rao says:

    Achintya Rao , after 25 yrs of being stuck with me, the man in question probably wishes he headed for the hills instead 😀

  18. Achintya Rao says:

    Rajini Rao: What’s with the self-deprecation? 😛

    Did you visit Karkala as well? Where did this visit take you? I have to go exploring Karnataka one day.

  19. My friend told me, once there was a fancy dress competition in his school. Everyone wore different dresses and he opted for the lord of shravanabelagola, because, he couldn’t afford much.

  20. Achintya Rao says:

    Rajini Rao: Ok, I take that back! I took that trip so long ago I had forgotten how long it takes to get from Karkala to Shravanabelagola.

  21. Rajini Rao says:

    Gnotic Pasta , I recently pointed out to him that he always has the same expression in every picture..of a somewhat pained tolerance. That remark was met with a look of pained tolerance, LOL. A student of mine was curious about my husband..upon meeting him, he remarked, “Not bad, he holds his own”. I guess that sums it up 🙂

  22. i went this place when i am kid Achintya Rao 

  23. i went this place when i am kid Rajini Rao 

  24. Rajini Rao says:

    Achintya Rao , self deprecation is my brand of humor 🙂

  25. Achintya Rao says:

    Rajini Rao: Ah, I didn’t realise I was in such esteemed company. 😀

  26. Rajini Rao says:

    Congratulations, Feisal Kamil ! We Incorrigibles can be a handful, so sympathies to your spouse 😉

  27. Rajini Rao says:

    Knowing that one is not short on ego makes self-deprecation all that more essential, Achintya Rao 😉

  28. Achintya Rao says:

    Rajini Rao: Oh, I am far too humble to have much of an ego. (Read that in Apu’s voice.)

  29. Chad Haney says:

    I agree with Feisal Kamil I’m at 8 years and I think my wife is the one wondering why. 

    Side note of irony, for Thai monks, the robe is like a Kilt.

  30. Nice set of pics.  It’s amazing how similar much of the artwork is to that of the Mayans.  Sure, there are difference, but I definitely noticed a resemblance.

  31. Rajini Rao says:

    Interesting, David Lazarus . I’ll take a look. There is also a Hellenic influence on Indian sculpture..following Alexander the Great’s foray into the subcontinent, if my history lessons don’t fail me.

  32. John Kampsen says:

    650 steps, Rajini Rao ??? Whoa !

  33. I find it interesting to see the similarities in artwork from different cultures.  Cultures separated by large distances (thousands of miles) who likely never interacted with one another.

  34. Rajini Rao says:

    My legs were definitely sore, John Kampsen . Added to that, we took on another 1000+ steps to get to the bottom of a waterfall the next day. Ouch!

  35. Kevin Clift says:

    Did you know Rajini Rao that one can use the Kannada Font to make emoticons and expressions ಠ_ಠ?

  36. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, Kevin Clift . It’s a good thing that I can’t read the Kannada script. Whoo knows (pun intended) what that said?

  37. Wow……….awesome look………

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    Think of all the clever ways you can introduce R-rated comments into a post, Feisal Kamil, with some Malay fonts.

  39. Those giant disparate rocks next to the lake and the houses make it look like a miniature installation.

  40. Kevin Clift says:

    Yes Rajini Rao it might cause a look of disapproval.

  41. Rajini Rao says:

    Oleg Mihailik , the Deccan plateau (the triangular part of India) is mostly made of basalt (from lava) or granite (common to this area..from the continental crust). Granite is so abundant that it is used liberally. Even the side walks are made of granite slabs.

  42. Chad Haney says:

    Rajini Rao not to be judgmental of your culture, but marrying at 15 is a bit young IMO (40 – 25 = 15). BTW, congratulations again, I think you mentioned your daughter was conspiring to remind your husband of the 25th anniversary. 

  43. Chad Haney says:

    Ah, but that was olden times, Feisal Kamil 

  44. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, Chad Haney . That blatant bit of flattery will get you safety from demerits for a while. 25th anniversary was last year. Husband remembered a day late. It took me a year, but I finally got good and mad about it. To be clear, I usually pooh pooh convention, but still…

    So this year my daughter and I conspired so she could send him an email reminder. To his everlasting absolution, he remembered in the carpark on his way to work, before he got the email (unless he read it on his phone?).

  45. Rajini Rao says:

    That’s right, Feisal Kamil . My mother married at 13 (although she lived with her parents until she turned 18). That means that they have been married 63 years!

  46. Rajini Rao says:

    What is interesting, Feisal Kamil , is that my parent’s generation were all from large families. Both my parents had 5-8 siblings. Nearly all of that generation had only 2-3 children each (for example, I have only one sib). Finally, my generation, my cousins in India for example, tend to have only one child. This is among the educated urban middle class, I mean. They must still have large families in villages.

  47. Chad Haney says:

    I’ve seen a few blogs where there’s an analogy between the Dunning-Kruger effect and the number of offspring vs. education level.

  48. Rajini Rao says:

    You bring up another good point, Gnotic Pasta . Those large age differences (10-12 yrs) were typical of marriages a few generations ago. Practical way to ensure that the wife was young enough to take care of her husband in old age 😉 

  49. Rajini Rao says:

    Of course, you’re only thirty so you have some time to do this bride hunting 🙂

  50. Rajini Rao says:

    Haha, well done Gnotic Pasta ! The harem sisterhood would approve. 

  51. Rajini Rao says:

    ‘Night Feisal Kamil !

  52. Chad Haney says:

    Goodnight Feisal Kamil 

  53. Thank you for taking the time to share your trip! 

  54. Manik Tyagi says:

    It’s nice place, I have been there once.

  55. Rajini Rao says:

    If you ever visit Bangalore, Sivarama Venkatesan , it is only a couple hours away by car. Check out my flower post too..the nice thing about flowers as subjects is that they are very kind to amateurs. Hard to shoot a bad picture.

  56. Nice pics but why are there slanting roofs around the temple…I had thought that snow falls only in the northern part of India….

  57. Rajini Rao says:

    Sudhanshu Pathania  I guess that rain falls in this part of India? 😉

    The slanting roofs do a better job with both rain and snow, but the disadvantage is the lack of a usable roof top.

  58. Very impressive … 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us Rajini Rao … ^^

  59. Rajini Rao says:

    You’re welcome, thanks for checking it out Magnus Fahlén . I keep meaning to upload some fantastic 11th century carved temples, but never seem to have the time 🙂

  60. You’re welcome Rajini Rao … 🙂

    The pleasure was all mine and I realized I’ve missed a lot of your great posts lately … :-S 

    Guess we all have something awesome to look forward to  further on Rajini Rao … 🙂

    Take your time … 😉

    Have a great weekend dear Rajini !!!

  61. Rajini Rao says:

    Nom nom won, Gnotic Pasta . You would definitely enjoy the 11 century ladies 😉

  62. Rajini Rao how beautiful!  i have never been here.  it is now on my list for next time!!!

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