Saturday, June 8, 2013

Shravanabelagola & Belur (Teresa, ILR'15)

When I first learned that we would be climbing up about 700 steps today, I was immediately wowed by such an opportunity. But then it hit me: it was 700 steps. Outside in the summer heat. While still wearing traditional clothing. Uhh... 

But my worries were set aside as we approached the historic place. I took the time on the bus to read up on the history of Shravanabelagola. Created around the 4th century BC, Shravanabelagola consists of two hills, Chandragiri (the smaller hill) and Indragiri (the bigger one) and around which is situated small town. A the top of Indragiri sits the world’s largest monolithic statue-- a 58’ tall statue of Bahubali or Gommatesvara a worshipped figure in Jain tradition. 

When we finally reached the base of the monument, I was a completely amazed. How was all of this made from one rock? Wow! After a short introduction by our guide, Mr. Sushma, we began our ascent. I’ll admit, the first dozen steps made me regret all the chupati, plantain chips, and Mysore Pak I had eaten in our first days here. Yet slowly, but surely I made my way up the steps. As they were literally carved out of rock, the uneven and irregular statured steps made for some treacherous moments, but with my friend, Gabby, and our other classmates by my side, I pressed on. We made frequent stops along the way, taking in the view and giving our hearts a needed rest. 

When we finally reached the top it was such a great sight to see the statute that I had only read about. At the base there were both Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists alike, saying prayers and giving offerings to it. But our journey wasn’t over yet. Graciously, we were given access to the very top of the temple--an unparalleled view of the structure and the surrounding town of Shravanabelagola.

After taking in the view, we made our way back down the mountain. Interestingly, the trip down proved harder than going up. But nonetheless we all made it safely back down, feeling proud and awed by the experience. As a frequent visitor of the Cornell equivalent, I can attest that the 161 steps of the clock tower is nothing compared to the steps of Shravanabelagola! 

After a delicious lunch in the Hoysala village (thanks Donna!), we made our way to the Blur temple nearby. Here again, Mr. Sushma provided a great history and background on the temple.

We made our way inside and traveled around the perimeter, taking in the beauty of the monuments and reflecting on their importance to the community. We returned to Mysore that night grateful for our newly widened view of the world.

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