Sravanabelagola is a city located in the Hassan district, in Karnataka and is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. In Kannada language, "Bel" means white and "kola", the pond, an allusion to the beautiful pond in the middle of the town. It reached a high point in architectural and sculptural activity under the patronage of Ganges of Talakad.
At Sravanabelagola there are two hills Chandragiri (also known as Chikkabetta) and Vindyagiri. The last shruta-kevali, Bhadrabahu Swami, and his pupil, Chandragupta Maurya (formerly the king), meditated there. Chandragupta Basadi, which was dedicated to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, was originally built here by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. Chandragiri also has memorials to numerous monks and shravakas, who have meditated there since the 5th century CE, including the last king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta. Chandragiri also has a famous temple built by Chamundaraya, who was a disciple of Acharya Nemichandra Siddhanta-chakravarti.
The Vindhyagiri hill is home to a thousand-year-old 17.38 meter monolithic stone statue of the Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali, considered to be the world's largest monolithic stone statue, built by Chamundaraya, a general of King Gangaraya. The base of the statue has inscriptions in Kannada (dated 981 CE) and Tamil, as well as the oldest evidence of written Marathi, from 981 AD. These inscriptions on the base of this thousand-year old statue is a tribute to the King from his general, Chamundaraya, who had funded the construction of the statue.The inscription concerns the Ganga king who funded the effort, and his general Chamundaraya, who erected the statue for his mother. Every 12 years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the devotees cover the thousand year old statue with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka will be held in 2018 A.D.
More than 800 inscriptions are found at Shravanabelagola, dating from various points during the period from 600 to 1830 CE. A large number of these are found in the Chandragiri, and the rest can be seen in the Indragiri and the town. Most of the inscriptions at the Chandragiri date to before the 10th century. The inscriptions include text in the Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Marwari and Mahajani languages. The second volume of Epigraphia Carnatica, written by Benjamin L. Rice is dedicated to the inscriptions found here. Shravanabelagola abounds in inscriptions that are in various Halagannada (Old Kannada) and Purvahalagannada (Pre-Old Kannada) characters. Some of these inscriptions mention the rise and growth in power of Gangas, Rashtrakutas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar empire and Mysore Wodeyars. These inscriptions have helped modern scholars in understanding the nature, growth and development of the Kannada language and its literature.
Shravanabelagola is the seat of the ancient Bhattaraka Math, belonging to the Desiya Gana lineage of Mula Sangh, from the Digambar monstic tradition. The Bhattarakas are all named Charukirti.
Shravanabelegola is 158 km from Bangalore. To find it, take the road to Nelamangala (27 km), and turn left onto NH-48. Divert from Hirisave to Sravanabelagola, and cover 18 km to reach the place.