The colossus of Gommateshvara rises austerely from the floor of its compound atop the southern hill. The enclosure with its statue substitutes for the garbhagriha of a more conventional temple. The statue, installed in 981 AD, was the gift of Chamundaraya, a Ganga official. At just under 18m (58ft) in height, it is the tallest free-standing sculpture in South India (or India, or the world, depending on which authority one consults).
Gommateshvara, or Bahubali, is the son of Adinath, the first Jain tirthankara. The saint became so engrossed in meditation that vines and creepers grew up around his body.
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