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Bahubali Statue, Dharmasthala Overview

Bahubali Statue, a breathtaking monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali is located in Dharmasthala, on top of the Ratnagiri Hill near River Nethravathi, in the Indian state of Karnataka. Bahubali which means the 'One with Strong Arms', is a legendary figure known for his Strength, Power and Intellect. His persona is highly praised and is considered an essential aspect of the Jain religion. The sculptured statue stands at a massive height of 57 feet and is carved out of a single rock. Some visit the statue to offer their prayers and some to come one step closer to peace and salvation. 

This architectural marvel is listed among the world's largest free-standing statues and depicts the time Bahubali stood motionless for a year in deep introspection. One who knows how much it takes to sit down motionless for a few minutes will know how difficult it is to sit motionless for months. Therefore, Bahubali is considered Lord Bahubali, the one who possesses immense strength and self-control and is such an inspiring figure that there are books and movies made to ensure the entire world knows about his existence. In fact, a Sanskrit Poem, Adi Purana, written and composed by Jinasena in the 9th century, mentions the ten lives of Bahubali, his father, Adinath and his elder stepbrother, Bharata. Two of the most recent works inspired by Bahubali's history are the movies Bahubali - The Beginning and Bahubali - The Conclusion.

The passage to the statue is immensely serene and will calm down jittery nerves in a moment. One can choose to climb the steps on the hill or take the road that leads to the shrine. Either way, the scenery and the architecture is sure to mesmerize you.

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History and Religious Importance of Bahubali Statue

Bahubali was the only son of Rishabhanatha (also known as Adinath) and his second wife, Sunanda. Adinath had 99 sons with his first wife, Sumangala and their eldest son was Bharata. Bahubali was born in Ayodhya during the Ikshvaku Dynasty. According to the Jain Texts, when Rishabhanatha decided to sacrifice the material world and become a monk, he passed down his kingdom to his 100 sons. Bahubali received the Kingdom of Asmaka in South India, and Bharata got the Kingdom of Vinita, Ayodhya.

It is said, when Bharata headed to Ayodhyapuri with his army and chakra-ratna (a divine disc-shaped super weapon which continuously spins on its own) after winning six divisions of the earth in all directions and reached the entrance of Ayodhyapuri, the chakra-ratna stopped spinning. It signified that his 99 brothers needed to submit to his authority. On this, Bharata's 98 brothers accepted monkhood and gave him their kingdoms except for Bahubali. Bahubali was also believed to possess vajra-??abhan?r?casa?hanana which means superior and extraordinary strength, and he challenged Bharata to a fight. The ministers were not at all in favour of the fight as both the brothers were in their last incarnations in transmigration and possessed extraordinary strengths. Hence they decided to settle the dispute through an eye-fight (staring into the eye), a water-fight known as Jala-Yuddha and Malla-Yuddha (wrestling) which Bahubali won hands down.

After the contest, Bahubali felt extremely sickened with humankind and developed a deep desire to surrender everything he had, and so he abandoned everything including his clothes and began meditating. It is said that Lord Bahubali meditated for one whole year in Kayotsarga (the standing posture). While he was meditating motionless, the creepers around him grew over and around his legs. It is after a year of meditation that Bahubali attained awareness and wisdom (Kevala Gyana) and also liberation from moksha, the continuous cycle of deaths and births. Hence, the majestic sculpture symbolizes self-control, renunciation and subjugation of the ego which is considered as the initial steps taken towards salvation and therefore the Jain followers consider Bahubali as the first Tirthankara of Jainism which means he was the first spiritual teacher and the first saviour of the dharma, the righteous path.

The Tirthankara is a Sanskrit word, and it signifies that Bahubali had found a tirtha (a fordable channel across the ocean of endless deaths and births also known as the Samsara) and had attained liberation from the constant cycle of deaths and births on his own through eternal devotion and focus. It was only after Bharata worshipped him with a painful sense of regret that Bahubali came out of his meditative zone. It is believed that he achieved moksha at Mount Kailash and is also called Siddha, the liberated soul.

Architecture of Bahubali Statue

The statue of Lord Bahubali was sculpted in 1973 under the guidance of Sri Ratnavarma Heggade by a renowned sculptor, Renjala Gopalkrishnan Shenoy. After the passing of Sri Ratnavarma Heggade, the complete statue was placed on top of the Ratnagiri Hill by Dr D Veerendra Heggade in February 1982. The sculpture was transported on a 64-wheel trolley to the location it is on now.

The humungous statue of Lord Bahubali depicts the time when he stood motionless to meditate and achieve salvation. The carvings of creepers growing around his arms and legs and insects crawling over him when he stood there in peace illustrate the same. The expressions captured on the face also depict his desire to reflect and not letting anything disturb his focus. Whether it's the size of Lord Bahubali or the nakedness of his renunciation of the material world or his regal yet peaceful aura, the sculptor has captured it all and captured it beautifully to let the world know about the history of Bahubali.

Best Time To Visit Bahubali Statue

The best time to visit the Bahubali Statue is between November and April as the monsoons are over and the weather is pleasant for climbing up the Ratnagiri Hill.

Tips For Visiting Bahubali Statue

1. Visitors need to follow a dress code. Men need to remove their shirts and women need to wear non-revealing clothes.
2. If one wants to avoid long queues, they may avoid public holidays and visit during the early hours.
3. Wear hats and sunscreen and carry enough water to keep yourself hydrated.  
4. Consumption of alcohol and gutkha, pan etc. is banned on the premises.
5. Do not litter the premises.

How To Reach Bahubali Statue

One can commute by road from Kukke Subramanya which is a 60-kilometre smooth drive to Dharmasthala. Buses are also frequently available from Kukke Subramanya, an intricately carved temple in Subramanya.

Once at the base of the Ratnagiri Hill, one can choose if they want to climb up the stairs enjoying the view or take the road ahead till the statue.

Dharmasthala Reviews

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Vittal Nayak 1 year ago
nice place to visit

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