Location: Sravanabelagola, Karnataka
Founded By: Chavundaraya
Founded In: 980 AD
Status: Tallest monolithic sculpture of the world
The Monolith of Gommateshwara is situated in Sravanabelgola, one of the
most sacred Jain pilgrim centers in India. Considered to be the tallest
monolithic sculpture in the world, Gommateswara statue is the pride of
Karnataka. It is perched on top of the Indragiri hill and serves as the
symbol of the grandeur of the Jain religion. The monolith dates back to
the year 980 AD and was constructed by Chavundaraya, a minister and
commandant of King Rachamalla of the Ganga dynasty.
Gommateshwara Monolith stands tall at a height of 58 feet. It is
constructed entirely out of granite and depicts Jain saint
Gommateshwara, also known as Bahubali, without any clothes. The colossal
statue is believed to have been carved out of a single rock and can be
seen from as far as 25 km. Since it is situated on a hill, one has to
climb around 614 steps to reach the statue. The Monolith of Gomateshwara
has been built as per the typical Jain architecture and beautifully
represents the exquisite craftsmanship of the Indian artisans.
The body of the saint has been sculpted in perfect proportions and one
can feel calmness in his face. There is a very interesting story behind
the construction of the Gommateshwara statue. Bahubali was one of the
two sons of Adinath, the first of the 24 Jain saints (Tirthankars). He
was never interested in the material possessions of his life and gave
away the entire kingdom of his father to his brother. Renouncing the
world, he underwent rigorous penance and was recognized as
It is said that Chavundaraya's mother saw a huge statue of
Gommateshwara in her dreams. After waking up, she vowed that she would
not eat until her dream was converted into reality. Thereafter,
Chavundaraya and his mother went on a pilgrimage, in which they came
across the two hills at Sravanabelgola already sanctified by the Jains.
Chavundaraya decide to build the statue of Gommateshwara on the larger
hill and ordered the carving of the monolith out of a boulder that stood
on top of the hill. The image was consecrated in 980 AD.
After every 12 years, during the Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony, the
Monolith of Gommateshwara is anointed with tons of coconut milk,
jaggery, curd, bananas, milk, poppy seeds, sandalwood, and saffron. Jain
pilgrims come here from different parts of the country as well as the
world to witness this event.