SIGNIFICANCE OF SRAVANA BELAGOLA
As the Tirtha Sravana-Belagola has been the ancient and prominent center of spiritual activities, the hallowed center of attraction for the Emperors, Kings, Queens, Ministers, Generals and other dignitaries, the sacred center of meditation for the Acharyas, Sadhus and other members of the ascetic order, the encouraging center of inspiration for literary and cultural activities, the major seat of Bhattaraka and the most popular place of pilgrimage of the common people in South India, it has got a large number of shrines or sacred structures of different kinds specially designed and constructed on the two hills, in the village and in the neighboring villages.
1. ON THE VINDHYAGIRI
The entire area of the Vindhyagiri hills has been divided into two parts by a heavy wall at some distance around the colossal image of Gommatesvara. This long, high and solid wall was erected in 1147 A. D. by the able minister Ganga-Raja with a view to protecting the image from possible injuries. The wall has thus made the area around the image into a compact enclosure.
A) In the enclosure :
The religious structures in the enclosure are as follows :
i) The colossal image of Gommatesvara in the center of the west of the
enclosure and facing the North.
ii) In all 43 Images in the cloisters around the image of Gommatesvara.
Of these images, 2 are of Yakshi Kushmandini, 1 of Bahubali and 40
Tirthankaras. The distributions of these 43 images is as under :
a) Eastside clositers : 14 Images.
1 of Kushmandini, and 13 of Tirthankaras.
b) Southside Clositers : 16 images of 16 Tirthankaras.
c) Westside clositers : 13 Images 1 of Kushmandini
1 of Bahubali ( 6ï¿½ High), and 11 of Tirthankaras.
iii) Two images of Dwaraplakas i.e. door-keepers, about 6 feet high, at
the sides of the entrance to the enclosure.
iv) One Brahmadev a Pillar, about 6 feet above the ground level enshrining a seated figure of Brahmadeva. It is situated just near the enclosure and was caused to be made by Chamunda-Raya.
v) One figure of Gullakay aji, about 5 feet high, facing the image of
Gommatta and holding a ï¿½ gulla kayiï¿½. This figure is situated just near the enclosure and was caused to be made by Chamunda Raya.
B) Outside the enclosure :
Similarly, in the vast area outside the enclosure also there are
Important religious structures as given below: –
i) Siddhara-Basti : It is small temple enshrining a seated figure of a
Siddha, about 3 feet high. On both sides of the figure stand two fine inscribed pillars, each about 6 feet high. These pillars show elegant workmanship, especially in their tops which are in the form of beautiful tower.
ii) Akhanda-Bagalu : It is a door-way entrance carved out of a single rock, and on both sides of the entrance there are shrines containing the figures of Bahubali and his brother Bharata. According toitradition this fine doorway entrance was caused to be made by Chamunda-Raya.
iii) Tyagada Brahmdeva Pillar : It is an elegantly carved pillar supported from above in such a way that a handkerchief can be passed under it. It was the place where gifts were distributed and hence it is popularly known as ï¿½ Chagada Kambha, i.e. pillar of gifts. The elegant pillar was caused to be made by Chamunda-Raya as recorded in inscription No. 281.
iv) Chennanna- Basti : It is temple built in honour of Chandratha Tirthankara by Shri Chennanna. A ï¿½ manastambhaï¿½ stands in front of it. To the north east of the Basti is a ï¿½mandapaï¿½ of pillared hall situated between two natural ponds.
v) Odegal-Basti : It is a temple containing the images of Adinatha, Santinatha, and Neminatha. Due to ï¿½Odegalsï¿½, i.e., stone props used strengthening the walls of the temple, it is known as Odegal-Basti. It is also known as ï¿½TriuktaBastiï¿½ by reason of its having three cells facing different directions. It is fine a structure, though with a plain exterior. It stands on a lofty terrace with a high flight of steps leading up to it.
vi) Chaturvinsati-tirthankara Basti : it is small temple containing the images of 24 Tirthankaras.
vii) Brahamadeva-Mandira : It is a small shrine at the foot of the hill near the beginning of the ascent. The daity is called Brahma or Jaruguppa Appa. It is a flat stone daubed with vermilion. The shrine has an upper storey, evidently a later addition, which has a figure of Parsvanatha in it.
viii) Siddhara- Gundu : It is a big boulder of stone, ( named after ï¿½ Siddhasï¿½, i.e. liberated souls ), on which are inscribed several incriptions, the top portion being sculptured with rows after rows of seated figure representing Jaina Gurus, i.e. ascetic teachers.