Sunday, August 07, 2005
Nun at Gomata's Feet
I know I say this for every photo I post but this is one of my all-time fave ones, spirituality-wise. Its very soothing the way the nun is praying, so spiritual. Technically speaking, there are too many shadows in the image but I use an automatic 25mm camera sans any adjustments and there was no way I could escape the sunlight.
About the pic now: I took this about two years ago at Shravanabelagola. The statue of Gomateshwara is supposedly the tallest monolith in Asia, it stands at 58 feet on a rock mountain. You would normally expect to see such a large statue from a long distance but what is amazing is that until you walk past the last doorway atop the mountain, you get no sign of anything being there on the other side. There are other statues too, dont know their names or their stories.
Shravanabelagola is a pilgrimage centre for Jains. Steps cut out in the mountain make the climb easier but be sure to start early in the morning, the heat later on can be unbearable.
The place, though a famous tourist spot, is relatively peaceful. Of course, the moment you come down, there are the mandatory souvenir shops lining both sides of the street where you can buy miniatures of the Gomata, dolls from Channapatna and other knick knacks. We bought some dolls there which were basically thick wires twisted into shape and woolen wrapped around it. The shopkeeper tried to sell us kits with which we could make those dolls at home but it didnt seem worth the trouble.
It is a temple town and makes a good one day trip if you team it up with a visit to Belur and Halebid, the temples built Hoysala dynasty. Now these two places have fascinated me since I was a kid. I dont know why, I can never seem to get enough of the place. Belur and Halebid is... I could never describe it in words, its too beautiful for that. The history, the stories carved in stone, the dances of Queen Shantala, the poetry... will write in detail when I post some pics that I have.
All these three places can be accessed keeping Hassan as the centre town. Hassan is not too far from Bangalore and offers good hotels, though I have never stayed there and cannot entirely vouch for it. If in South India, you cannot and should not miss these places.
Forgot to mention what is coming up in this place. Every 12 years, the Jains have this festival called Mahamastakabhisheka where the statue is washed with water, honey, clarified butter, turmeric and a range of other stuff. Its a very huge affair but I hear its good. Never been to one myself. The next one is in February 2006.