25 labourers (on an average) strived for nearly 6 years for the completion of the statue
Words followed visions, and actions followed words once it was decided that a Bahubali monolithic shall be established in Dharmasthala. Shashikanth Jain, an astrologer from Bangalore was invited to mark a suitable place for the erection of the statue, which was selected at Rajatagiri where there had never been an inauspicious occurring. Well begun is half done, which is why ceremonies at the beginning were itself made large. The foundation stone was laid for the statue by the then President of India, V. V. Giri. Dr. D Veerendra Heggade approached him for the task for which he readily agreed; having been the Governer of Karnataka, V. V. Giri was well aware of the importance of Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala in the state. Having laid the foundation stone for the 39 feet statue of Bahubali on 11th May 1970, he foretold that Dharmasthala shall soon be a major tourist attraction in the country.

Karkala Renjala Gopala Shenoy with the Statue

The realisation of the vision posed numerous demands, but none as great as the requirement for an ace sculptor who could efficiently bring a stone to life in the flawless form of Bahubali. A famed sculptor from Karkala Renjala Gopala Shenoy was approached for the mammoth task. The man was a skilled sculptor who held the fame of having sculpted the Garuda pillars of Karkala Venkatrama temple alongside many others, and well experienced at the age of 64 (when approached). Not considering his own age or the scale of the project in hand as a hindrance, Gopala Shenoy took up the challenge to sculpt out one of the greatest masterpieces of the modern era. Dr. Babu Rajendra Prasad and Sir. Mirja Ismail had commended already his works which were created over a span of 5 decades, but this time he was up for something that the world would commend.

Erection of the Statue

Once a monolithic was spotted as fit for the task, it was paid the respects it deserved as per religious terms, and Dr. D Veerendra Heggade gave the sculpting process a symbolic start by chiseling out a chip from the stone. The initial date for the sculpting to begin was the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami of 1967. From the day on, 25 labourers (on an average) strived for nearly 6 years for the completion of the statue. With a task like this in hand, one mistake meant complete failure, which was why only the best sculptors were handpicked by Gopala Shenoy. There were a number of immigrants from Tamilnadu who worked on the statue, and though most of them hailed from extremely modest backgrounds, they played a historic role in bringing a rare grand vision to reality in the 20th century. The realisation of the dream took a long time and naturally so, for the challenges that came in the way were catered to without previous experience.