Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Gomateshwara of Mysore

Mention the name Gomateshwara and invariably people associate it with Shravanabelagola in Hassan district and rightly so as the idol is the tallest of its kind.
Thousands of people make it a point to visit Shravanabelogala to see the beautiful idol of Bahubali. But apart from the Jains, for whom the Gomata is one of their theerthankaras or prophets, not many know the existence of a Gomata nearer Mysore.
In fact the Gomata at Mysore is just 24 kilometers away from the City of palaces but neither tourist operators nor even people visiting Shravanabelogala, excepting the Jains, are aware of this idol.
The idol of Bhagawan Bahubali near Mysore is located on a hill called Gomatagiri. It is situated in Bilikere hobli of Hunsur taluk in Mysore district.
Unlike the Shravanabelogala behemoth which is 58 feet tall, the Gomatagiri idol here is much smaller-it is less than 20 feet in height. Besides, it is 700 years old and this makes it more recent than its taller brother in Hassan district.
The Bahubali statue at Gomatagiri is on a 50-meter hillock called Shravana Gudda. It is built of granite and archaeologists say it belongs to the Vijayanagar period. The Shravanabelogala statue belongs to the Gangas and it was constructed by Chavundaraya, a minister and commander in the Ganga kingdom.
This idol too has a serene face and curly hair. It has striking similarities to its counterpart in Shravanabelogala. Jains, however, believe that both the statues were constructed around the same time.
Generally, this shrine is visited by Jains who come here after seeing Bahubali at Shravanabelogala. Unfortunately, other tourists and even Mysoreans tend to give a miss to this small but exquisite statue a miss.
Therefore, the place is very calm and there are rarely hordes of tourists. Sometimes, it is so lonely that you would be the only person at the shrine of Bahubali. Another thing is that if the compound of the shrine is closed, the priest lives nearby and you can request him to open the lock.
As you climb up, you can see a footprint on top of a small boulder near the one where the statue of the Gomateshwara is standing. This footprint is believed to be that of Neminatha, the 24th Jain Theerthankara.
The hill is not all that high but when you climb it, you can easily make out the backwaters of KRS dam in the north.
Unfortunately, there are very few buses from Mysore and other places to Gommatagiri, However, if you have your own transport, there should not be any problem. It will take you less than 40 minutes to reach this place from Mysore.
The best route is to take the Hunsur road and after you travel 12 kms, you will come to the industrial hub of Yelwala. Soon after crossing Yelwala , there is an arch on the right side of the road leading to Madikeri. Take this narrow winding road and another r 12 km will bring you to Gommatagiri.
Another route is to countinue on the Hunsur road till you see the signpost saying Rare Materials Plant on your right. Continue further till you see the arch. Take the right road into the arch and you ill come to Gommatagiri.
The hillock and the statue remained neglected and even inaccessible for a long period, after Jains moved out of the area. Moreover, lightning had split the hillock and created a huge crack, making it almost impossible for devotes to climb it for worshipping Bahubali. The statue fortunately, suffered no damage. The statue was restored to its original glory when the Gommatagiri Kshetra Seva Samithi was formed during 1924-25 and it undertook restoration, including carving of steps, at the hill. In 1950,  the committee conducted the first anointing ceremony and since then it is being organized every year. The then Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, participated in the Mastakabhiseka of 1952.

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