Installation of the monolithic

The inevitable thought that occurs in every mind that beholds any statue of Bahubali in Karnataka is the sense of wonder regarding how, after all, it must have been installed. Established centuries ago when there wasn’t even technology like today, how did the architects and engineers of the time manage to erect the monolithic statues of Karkala and Venur? Answers to that may or may not be discovered, but we do have an instance from the near past where the same history was repeated – the 20th century way.


The statue was rested at the Bahubali Vihar for a long time after it was transported to Dharmasthala, as Dr. Heggade deliberated regarding the installation of the statue. Hindustan Construction Works, a Mumbai based company was approached for this task. The company analysed that the statue weighed 180 tonnes, and designed strategies to lift it up and install it. Again, everything had to start from scratch, as there was no equipment previously designed to bear as much weight. Alongside having to build equipment to install the statue, precaution had to be taken against aspects that might cause harm to its surface as well, for scarring the idol would be an unpardonable offense for which there was practically no cure.


Installation of the monolithic

Two strategies were designed and ruled out owing to the unavailability of equipment that could carry them out. The third strategy, which planned to move the statue using a traveling gantry, was approved and worked upon. 200 meters of railway track was installed from the base of the horizontally lying statue to its exact spot of installation, and a strong iron frame was constructed around the statue. Having incorporated the monolithic within the iron frame, the statue was to be lifted to a vertical position through the pulleys attached at the shoulder levels. Precaution was taken before the process began to avoid mishaps, and extra metal elements that could withstand the weight of the statue were kept prepared to be introduced during the installation. A test installation was run before the actual day to pre-validate the reliability of the equipment, and the statue was lifted a few inches up from the ground. It worked! All the hopes of creating an unparalleled historic instance had multiplied beyond measure for the big day to come.


The big day arrived with a massive crowd slithering into the spot on the 25th of December 1975, at 12.30 PM. It seemed like no one in the vicinity wanted to miss out from standing witness to this like-never-before event. Even under the remotely comfortable conditions on top of the hill, people stood ground and beheld the phenomenon of the 39 feet monolithic taking its place. The grand symbol of peace and spirituality began his journey to his rightful dominant position on top of the hill and managed to reach a 50-degree height on the first day. The two winches to the pulleys were turned by 10 labourers each who took turns to manage the task in perfect coordination. The statue was brought to its destined position the next day, after which the task of solidifying its base with concrete was undertaken. The concrete base stands at a height of 14 feet itself, affirming that the statue shall stand strong and still for ages to come. Finally, after all the diligence of ideation, execution, sculpting, transport, and installation, the 39 feet monolithic of Bahubali had been established at the temple town of Dharmasthala for millennia to cherish the message and the courage it took to disseminate it at this scale.