Shravanabelagola – the City of the White Pond
One of the oldest and most popular Jain pilgrim centers in India, Shravanabelagola is located close to Channarayapatna in the Hassan district of Karnataka. This city is nestled between two rugged mountain ranges, the Chandragiri and Vindyagiri. Good roads and railways connect Shravanabelagola with Bangalore which allow thousands of visitors and pilgrims to visit the city every year.
History & Attractions of Shravanabelagola
Shravanabelagola derives its particularly memorable name from three distinctive words, where ‘Shravana’ stands for ‘Jain ascetic’, ‘Bela’ stands for ‘white’ and ‘Gola’ indicates ‘pond’, the last being located in the heart of the city. The earliest known reference to the city is an inscription dating back to 800 A.D that mentions the name ‘Belagola’. Shravanabelagola has since come to be adorned by the title, ‘the place of the white pond’.
The city is recognized worldwide as a sacred pilgrimage for the Jain devotees. Furthermore, it houses a fine collection of architectures and sculptures which date back centuries and owe their origins to the Gangas of Talakad. Coupled with history, myth and breathtaking scenic beauty, Shravanabelagola is a destination for all masses and classes.
The two hills of Chandragiri and Vindyagiri have attracted tourists for decades, as both these hills house several Jain monasteries. ‘Vindyagiri’ which stands about 470 feet from the ground is the home for the world’s largest monolithic statue of ‘Lord Gomateshwara’. This stone structure dates back to 981A.D and represents reunification. It was erected by the minister of the Ganga King who went by the name of Chavundaraya. This is not only a local attraction but people visit this place in the light of the numerous festivals that take place concerning this statue.
Chandragiri, on the other hand, is a relatively smaller hill which is located opposite to the Vindyagiri. One would find numerous smaller monasteries and temples scattered throughout the steps of this hill. The tomb of Chandragupta Maurya can also be found on this hill range.
Things to do at Shravanabelagola
Shravanabelagola has its annual range of festivals and ceremonies which are a sight to savor. Additionally, the local marketplace adorns the fringes of this city, where five star hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops are found in galore. Tourists can gorge on local cuisines like dosas, sheera, various flavors of idilis, rottis, and uppittu among many others.
A special meal typical to Shravanabelagola is the ‘Kannadiga Oota’ or Kannada meal. This includes a specific meal served directly on a banana leaf. The uniqueness of it is to start this meal with a kind of dessert (Paaysa). This is then followed by Uppu, Kosambari, Playa, Riata, Gojju, Pickle, Chitranna, Rice, Ghee and Thovve. There is also a Jain Mutt located near the main city which serves authentic and delicious Jain food. Local street foods are available in road side stores.
Tourist Facilities at Shravanabelagola
Accommodation for tourist and travelers can be found in plenty which includes Hotel Raghu which is located on the main street, Hotel Yatri Nivas, and a VIP Guest House among the many other budget friendly hotels in Shravanabelagola. Travelers seeking spiritual mending as well as sensory pleasures would be equally enthralled after a visit to this marvelous city.