The districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi are synonymous with Bahubalis. For there exist three towering monolithic statues of Lord Bahubali in Karkala, Venur, and Dharmasthala of the five over 20-feet tall monolithic statues of Lord Bahubali in the state.
Among the three in the coastal districts, the Karkala Gomateshwara is the tallest at 42 ft. This statue was consecrated by Veerapandyadeva, the king of Bairavarasa family of Karkala in 1432 AD on a rocky hill. Karkala town (Kari Kallu) derives its name after the black stones that cover the vast landscape.
The Mahamasthakabhisheka of Karkala Bahubali was performed in 2002 and the next one falls in 2014. The first ever mahamasthakabhisheka for Karkala Bahubali was held in 1665. In the 20th century, it was held thrice in 1950, followed by one in 1962 and in 1990.
The second tallest Bahubali is at Dharmasthala. Under the aegis of Ratnavarma Heggade, the famed sculptor Renjala Gopal Shenoy began work on the statue of Lord Bahubali in l967. The 39 ft high statue, carved from a single rock, with a pedestal of 13 ft was completed in 1970 at Karkala.
It was Veerendra Heggade, the Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, who conceived the plan to transport the gigantic monolith, weighing 170 tonnes from Karkala to Dharmasthala – a distance of 34 km. The statue was transported on a trolley with 64 wheels, driven by three tractors and the spectacle was watched by thousands of people along the roads.
The installation was completed on December 25, 1975. Under the guidance of 108 Acharya Vidyananda Maharaj, the ‘Mahaprathishtapana’ was conducted on February 3, 1982, followed by the ‘Mahamasthakabhisheka’ the next day. On February 10, 1995, the first Mahamasthakabhisheka of Lord Bahubali, since Mahaprathishtapana, was performed.
At 35 ft, the Venur Bahubali near Moodabidri is the fourth tallest statue in the state after the 55 ft towering monolith at Shravanabelagola. Venur has a recorded history since 1154 AD of which it was under the rule of Ajila dynasty rule for 632 years. It was Thimmajila King of Ajila lineage, who consecrated the statue of Lord Bahubali in 1604 AD. Before the year 2000 mahamasthakabhisheka of Venur Bahubali, it was held in the year 1956. The last is the 20-feet high Bahubali at Gomatagiri in Hunsur taluk of Mysore, which is about 700 years old. The statue is an early Vijayanagara creation in granite. – Article Courtesy: Stanley Pinto, Times of India