The tallest monolithic statue in the world, Gomateshwara is dedicated to Lord Bahubali and is located in Shravanabelagola. Carved out of a single block of granite, this statue, situated at the very top of a hill, depicts Lord Gomateshwara a Jain saint and stands 60 feet tall. It is so tall that it can be seen from 30 km away.
Built by Chamundaraya, a poet and minister from the Western Ganga Dynasty, between the years 978 and 993 CE, this statue serves as a famous pilgrimage site for Jains all over the world. Every 12 years devotees flock to the statue to celebrate the Mahamastakabhisheka festival during which 1,008 vessels filled with water are sprinkled over the statue. Following the sprinkling of water, the devotees bathe the statue in milk, sugarcane juice, and paste made from the saffron flower. The ceremony continues through several rounds before the people leave valuable offerings of silver and gold at the statue’s feet.
To reach the top of Vindhyagiri Hill, on top of which the statue is located, visitors must climb up 614 steps. Several temples for worship have also been erected on the hill. More than 800 inscriptions in various sites around the statue date from various times between 600 CE and 1830 CE.