Shravanabelagola in Karnataka is a very holy place for Jains, who are followers of an ancient Indian religion. It is famous because of a huge statue of Bahubali or Gomateshwara, who the Jains worship.

The statue of Bahubali is 57 feet tall, and is among the largest in the world carved from a single block of stone. It was put up by a king named Chavundaraya in 983 AD. Chavundaraya was so proud of what he had done that he planned a big puja, during which milk, saffron, sandalwood and other things were to be poured on the statue from head to foot. But whatever the priests poured did not flow below the statue’s stomach. Then a poor old lady came with some milk in the shell of a fruit. Everyone laughed at her, but she poured it on the statue. It gushed to the foot of the statue and down the hill on which it stood, to form a pool in the village below. Belagola means white pond in Kannada.

Ever since then, the puja, called Mahamastabhisheka, is being done. It is held once in 12 years. It was last performed in February 2018. The next will be in 2030.

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