The terrain’s name Vindhyagiri remained unchanged even after the town name was converted to Gomatapura in the late 10th century. The name "Vindhyagiri '' is derived from Sanskrit words ‘Vim’ meaning spirit and ‘Dhya’ as meditation, describing the spot as a favorite abode for monks to practice penance on the supreme spirit. The hill located about 3,288 feet from mean sea level and 438 feet above the ground, holds a Bahubali statue of 58.8 feet in height. High and heavy granite mass forms its pedestal, making 614 steps to reach the structure erected atop the hill.
The story behind the statue goes like, once King Rishabhanatha, father of Bharata and Bahubali, determined to leave behind his kingdom and power to take up a monk life. He divided the empire among his kids, allotted Ayodhya to Bharata, Podanapur to Bahubali, and distributed the remaining among other sons. Years after he left, King Bharata took to expand his kingdom beyond Ayodhya, thus starting encroaching on neighboring kingdoms and his brothers' kingdom. Winning all the battles, he finally reached King Bahubali’s kingdom and sent ambassadors to talk over surrendering otherwise a war. Ministers of both the provinces, awake to avoid a fight between the siblings and resultant casualties, announced an armless battle only between the kings where no weapons would be involved, rather a sight-fight, water-fight, and wrestling. After the completion of all three rounds, King Bharata, who was on the losing side under the drive of anger, neglected the rule and attacked Bahubali with a chakra, a heavenly wheel. Unfortunately, the chakra, instead of harming Bahubali, rotated him thrice and disappeared in the air. This incident made King Bharata realize his mistake, and King Bahubali think about the path of enlightenment. Thus Bahubali moved to the forest and started meditating. It is believed that the first installation of the now standing Gomateshwara aka Bahubali statue was raised by King Bharata in remembrance and to show respect to his intelligent and brave brother.
According to legends, there is another story that surrounds the statue. As per records, the Gomateshwara statue was installed in 990 AD by Chavundaraya, Ganga King Rachamalla Sathyavakya’s minister. He once on a spiritual expedition to Podanapur with his mother Kalala Devi and Guru Acharya Ajithasena happened to spend a night at Shravanabelagola. During the sleep, he saw himself erecting a statue on the hill, obeying the same the next morning. Chavundaraya decided on the spot by directing an arrow to the Vindhyagiri and initiating the sculpting process. Soon later, the task of chiseling the statue out of a huge granite block was entrusted to the most skillful sculptors under the guidance of Arishtanemi. Thus, the statue finished in a meditation posture known as Kayotsarga was chosen to host Mahamastakabhisheka every 12 years, a mandatory practice introduced by the intensely devoted Chavundaraya.
The statue of Gomateshwara has curly hair ringlets and large ears. Its eyes are kept open and facial features are perfectly chiseled with a faint smile that signifies inner peace. His shoulders are kept broad, the arms stretch straight down, and the figure is worked with no support from the thigh upwards. There is an anthill in the background denoting incessant penance. Snake and creepers emerge from the anthills to twine both the legs and arms of the statue around. The entire figure stands on an open lotus signifying totality. On either side of Gomateshwara stands two majestic chauri bearers, yaksha and yakshi. Akandabagilu, a massive door bearing carvings of Gajalakshmi and two elephants with their trunks raised, is another commendable work of Jain craftsmanship.