The monolithic took nearly 6 years to be sculpted at Mangala Paade at Karkala. By the end of sculpting, it was assumed that the statue weighed around 170 tonnes, and the challenge that lay ahead was something that made everyone sceptical. The statue had to be transported to its place of erection, Vindhyagiri, which was located nearly 64 kilometres away. Transporting a stone statue weighing 170 tonnes and standing tall at 39 feet was no child’s play, and it took extensive planning and execution to accomplish this mammoth task.
Mangatram Construction Company in Mumbai was approached for this process, which happily acknowledged the offer and made things happen in ways that seemed almost miraculous. The task was challenging on various levels – starting from placing the statue over the transporting vehicle, to driving it along the same path that was used for general transport. But the execution strategy was nothing short of looking the challenge in the eye, for Dr. Heggade and Deenanath Oban (owner of Mangatram Co.) themselves overlooked the entire process. A special vehicle weighing 20 tonnes in itself and constituting an engine with 250 HP, carried over 64 wheels was designed and brought down for the transportation of the statue. 40 feet tall Bramhastamba was transported to Dharmasthala as a trial, and whatever obstacles occurring during the three day long journey of the Bramhastamba were noted and rectified for the next big trip.
The population of Karkala bid their happy farewells to the monolithic on 27 February 1973, the day when Bahubali took 9 hours to board the truck he was supposed to be travelling on. Sliding the statue onto the trolley was the first challenge, but the process was led and made easy by Prof. Basavarajayya from Surathkal Institute. However, unexpected challenges began showing up the very day the journey began, and the trolley did not move once the statue was loaded onto it. So the wait extended until a new engine was brought for the trolley from Mumbai and planks installed on the way where the tyres would move; after which the statue’s grand journey towards its destination began. Covering a distance of 4 kilometres from Mangala Paade to the main road itself took a couple of days, after which the long route to Dharmasthala patiently awaited to pose more challenges, alongside marking itself lucky to have witnessed this glorious procession. The procession was led by an idol of Lord Ganesha from Dharmasthala, and accompanied by a number of elephants and horses.
The railway department played a crucial role in the journey, as makeshift arrangements had to be done when the time came for the trolley to pass over bridges. The technically tricky and laborious task was carried out with the assistance of the department and a number of labourers who toiled day and night to construct temporary bridges at 5 places – Sanoor, Hosangadi, Venur, Belthangady and Dharmasthala.
Every place it went, natives of the area waited to welcome the statue with materials of worship, felicitations for Dr.Heggade and his entourage, as well as cultural feasts. At Venur, the Bahubali statue of the native area was given respect with a Mastakabhisheka when this one halted for the night; a ceremony that was attended by over 25,000 people! Also, when the statue entered Ujire, a record gathering of 10,000 people arrived to welcome it to its place of permanent residence. Ones who have documented this historic moment have claimed that the sense of accomplishment of being witness to a historic event was evident on each one’s faces. The crowd celebrated, along with Dr. Heggade himself, who took the festival of colours initiated by the people that day to a whole other level.
The 23 days long journey came to end as the trolley reached its destination on 20 th of March 1973. The end date overtook all other days of the procession with ceremoniousness, as the trolley driver took courage to drive the statue around the Manjunatha Temple of Dharmasthala so that the monolithic could pay its respects to the ruling deity of the area. Amidst all the scepticism and chaos, the process unravelled the heights of enchantment this legacy was capable of invoking. Lord Manjunatha and Lord Chandranatha were paid respects, and the statue made its way uphill to Bahubali Vihar where it was to be erected.