Mysore (India) and 2 days off from asana practice (Friday = moon day + Saturday = weekly day off): what a luxury!
How not to take advantage of it and go on a daily trip to explore the even more incredible India? Destinations:
All of them within 3 hours drive from Mysore.
Shravanabelagola is a major Jain pilgrimage destination in India, well known for the huge monolithic statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali, considered to be the biggest monolithic stone statue in the world. I had read about the 600 steps that brings up to the small hill where the temple is but definitely I was not ready for the beautiful landscape I found once there!
The hill is made of stone and the steps are slightly carved in the rock. Nobody is allowed to go up with the shoes being the hill considered sacred, so I left them behind at the entrance and… the search started!
Each step I take I can feel my bare feet grasping the soil, getting its vibrations, becoming one with it. What exquisite sensation!
While climbing up I don’t realize at all how steep the path is, till at one third of it I turn around and can see all the village quite far below with a big ‘pool’ in front of me. Most likely that is a ghat (sacred place where Indian people do their ablutions in the morning) considering the 4 small temples on its perimeter. To the left of it, coconut trees arranged up to the horizon… wonderful!
Two third up, I meet a small flatness with different temples of different sizes: a round, a puja (= an offer to the Devine), some pictures and up… ready to continue the climbing. Along the path several stone structures and the question arise: ‘what are they for?’ as it seems to be no apparent reason or need for them to be there. As a friend on the same trip says: ‘it seems coming out of Star Wars’ J.
And then I get to what seems just another temple… lazily I come to the entrance and see part of a sculpted white stone shining behind the door. My heart accelerates as I realize it’s a piece of the Gommateshvara ! This is immediately followed by a strong desire to rush inside… and here it is, astonishing in all its grandeur!
It is still early morning (around 8.30am), a few devotees are chanting their prayers, a couple of others do pujas with a few Brahmins leading them.
I start seeing the place through the lens of my camera just to end sitting quietly on one side, feeling the vibrations of the place… so strong. My mind goes to my previous trip to Somnathpur and the energy I felt there: this one is actually very different, though I cannot say in which way. I have the clear perception of the energy not coming from the statue itself but from the prayers, the chanting, the pujas, the devotion shown in this place for centuries… and that is beautiful!
All in all, a place unique that doesn’t bring up to my mind anything else I have ever seen… or felt…
PS: Practical info if interested to visit Shravanabelagola:
– no entrance fee
– 2 rps shoe deposit (can’t even convert in euro 😀 )
– 30 rps parking (half euro)
– shops (Tibetan & not) and places to eat available at the entrance
– best time to visit is morning as the stone can become really hot on sunny days or slippery with rain (it usually comes in the afternoon in this time of the year – July / August).