The serene monolith that witnessed history

The serene monolith that witnessed history

A panoramic view of the picturesque environment surrounding the statue. Lake Ramasamudra is also seen. DH PHOTOS/author

But once atop the hill, the monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali, also called as the Karkala Gomateshwara, standing tall since centuries, offers a breathtaking view.

The statue which is 42 feet tall is the second tallest after the Gomateshwara in Shravanabelagola. Located on the Bahubali Hill in Karkala, the towering monolithic granite structure is one among the five main Gomateshwaras in the State.

Built on February 13, 1432 AD by King Vira Pandya of Kalasa-Karkala kingdom, this statue has been a silent spectator of the rich history of our ancestors. The statue was installed by the King following instructions from Guru Lalitakirti who then headed the Karkala Jain Mutt.

The statue of Lord Bahubali in the ‘Kayotsarga’ posture bears all Mahapurusha characteristics such as elongated ears, palms stretching up to knees, curly hair, depiction of anthill and creepers entwining both hands.

The statue stands on a 5 feet high moulded platform enclosed by a massive stone rail of three horizontal bars. The railed platform is further enclosed by a high cloistered wall in front of which is a tall carved pillar called the Manasthamba, carrying image of a seated Yaksha within a niche above the abacus. The Manasthamba and holy stone or ‘Kshetrapalaka’ in front of the temple are placed as protectors.

The shrines dedicated to Parshwanatha and Sheetalanatha are present on either sides of the entrance. These loose sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras were retrieved during recent conservation works and are displayed in the shrines dedicated to them. There is also a large mantapa for conducting yajnas and other rituals.


Once in 12 years the ‘Mahamastakabhisheka’ ceremony is performed where the statue is bathed and anointed with milk, water, and saffron paste and sprinkled with sandal wood powder, turmeric, and vermilion.

The previous Mahamastakabhisheka was held in February 2002, and the next will be in 2014. An annual Rathotsava is held in February month and is thronged by thousands of Jain devotees.


According to Jain scriptures, Bahubali was the second of the 100 sons of the first Tirthankara, Lord Rishabha and was the king of Podanpur. He was known for the strength in his arms as depicted by his name.

Legend has it that Bahubali was challenged by his brother Bharatha over the succession to the throne. Bahubali took on the challenge and duelled with his brother in three forms such as ‘Drishtiyuddha,’ ‘Mallayuddha’ and ‘Jalayuddha’.

Bahubali emerged victorious but was disgusted with the quest of material wealth that made him fight his own brother. Renouncing his kingdom and all worldly pleasures, he went on to pursue ‘Moksh’ (salvation) and stood in a deep meditation for years.

Scenic beauty

The statue looks more striking as it is placed in a scenic environment. The panoramic view of the hills surrounding the statue can uproot one for hours. The picturesque lake Ramasamudra and Chaturmukha Basadi which can be clearly seen from top of the hill adds to the beauty.