Halebid (also pronounced as Hale'beedu) literally means 'the old city'. Beedu also stands for layout or a place of human habitat. The Hoysalas ruled this city for about 150 years. Then it was sacked by the armies of Malik Kafur in the early 14th century, after which it fell into a state of disrepair and ignore.
It is located on the banks of river Yagachi. According to inscriptions discovered here, Belur was also referred to as 'Velapuri'. Belur is known as Dakshina Varanasi or South Banaras for its temples. Though Belur and Halebidu and just 16 kms away, they are always referred to as Belur and Halebidu as if they are one. But indeed they are one in their grandeur of erstwhile era.
The temples of Belur and Halebid are best known for their south Indian architecture. The temples at both these places are built by renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya (Amarashilpi Jakanaacharya). The temples are carved with scripts of Hindu mythology. The 12th century temple at Belur has many figures known as Madanikas or dancers. It has many pillars of different designs. Later the capital was shifted to Dwarasamudram (Halebid).
Both these temples have carving of Puranas, the Upanishads and other mythological characters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. With these exquisite designs one loses himself in its beauty.
The 12th century Chennakesava Temple at Belur is the symbol of Hoysalas over the Cholas in the great battle of Talakadu. The exterior is covered with a variety of intricately-carved sculptures and friezes. The interior contains exquisite panels A tall stone pillar in the temple courtyard is balanced, amazingly, only by its centre of gravity.
The word Halebeedu means ‘ruined city’; earlier it was called as Dwarasamudra which meant ‘entrance to the ocean’. Halebeedu was the royal capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. It was during this period, many temples were constructed. Halebeedu’s fall began after it was invaded by the Delhi sultanate.
Tourist can see many prominent temples like Hoysaleswara temple, Shantaleshwara temple and Kedareshwara temple which had been built by Ketamala and dedicated to Vishnuvardhana, ruler of Hoysala Empire. The temples are named after the Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and his wife, Queen Shantala.
These temples are built out of Chloritic Schist, a soft stone which allows minute detailing work on the walls of the temple. The sculptures of the temple reveal the usage of ivory and sandalwood in the construction of these temples. The temples are often compared with the temples of Khajuraho because of the heavy carvings and magnificence.
Architecture Of Hoysalaeswara Temple:-
The remarkable structure of this temple has been acclaimed as a perfect exemplar of Hindu style of architecture. Its architecture is often regarded as the 'supreme climax of Indian architecture'. In the exteriors, many projections and recesses in the walls make the structure quite complex; in contrast to it, the interiors appear simple. The exterior walls of the temple have a splendid assortment of stone sculptures.
Hoysaleswara Temple is particularly known for its wall sculptures that are imprinted right from the outset of the outer wall. Opening with an image of dancing Ganesha on the left hand side of the south entrance, the series ends with a different image of Ganesha on the right hand side of the north entrance. The whole collection has not less than 240 images. The most complicated of all sculptures, are traceable in the beams, over two of the entryways, one on the southern entryway and other on the eastern entryway.
The interiors of the temple are quite plain except for the lathe turned pillars that dash in rows flanked by the north and south doorways. Making the forefront of the each shrine, the four pillars are the most elaborate having 'madanika' sculptures in their brackets. The massive temple has four porches serving as its doorways. Generally, only one porch is left open for entry that lies in the north.
The superstructure on the shrines is known as 'Sunakasi', which used to be a row of ornamented miniature roofs on top of the attics of the hall, are all gone astray. Even the towers of the shrines are not there. The temple was constructed at a height to grant adequate horizontal and vertical space to illustrate large and small sculptures.
Garuda Pillar :-
Garuda Stambha (Pillar) is an attention-grabbing structure of Hoysaleswara Temple. Garudas were known to be the selected bodyguards of the kings and queens. They used to live and move with the Royalty with the sole aim to defend their master. At the death of their master, they committed suicide. In the southern side, the pillar demonstrates heroes flanking knives and cutting their own heads. The inscription on the pillar commemorates Kuruva Lakshma (bodyguard of Veera Ballala II).
Importance of Halebid:-
Halebid temple statue of Ganesha The main attraction of Halebid is Hoysaleshwara temple. This temple has lord Hoysaleshwara and Lord Shantaleshwara. Plenty of sculptures have been carved on the outer wall and is the speciality of this temple. The Kedareshwara temple, this was built by Ballala - II and decorated with sculptures and panels in typical Hoysala style. Shrine on either side of Navaranga hall inside. The basement shows the rows of Elephants, Horse, Lion and an imaginary animal called Makara. Pushpagiri is situated 3 Kms nearer to Halebid. This has got temples of Lord Mallikarjuna, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Parvathi. These are all built during Vijayanagara period. Lord Chatteshwara temple in Chattachattanahalli which is 3 Kms from Halebid. Sri Ranganatha temple with the 6 ft statue of Lord Ranganatha with Brahma taking birth in the lotus at Nabhi (Navel) and Aridevi serving at his feet. Basadi halli (Jain Mandir) is very nearer to Hoysaleswara temple. Three jain temples Parswanathaswamy (14 ft height, made of black stone), Adinathaswamy (central mandir) and Shanthinathaswamy (located at east of Shanthinathaswamy) can be seen here.
Hoysaleswara Temple has two shrines, one dedicated to Hoysaleswara and another for Shantaleswara (named after Shantala Devi, queen of King Vishnuvardhana). Standing on a raised platform, the temple is made out of Chloritic Schist (Soapstone, also known as potstone). Both of the shrines are located next to each other, facing the east direction. The shrine comprises the Shiva lingam (phallic form of Lord Shiva), the universal symbol of Lord Shiva.
Besides the other shrines, there is one shrine that is dedicated to Lord Surya. Here, Sun God is depicted in the 7 ft tall image. The halls comprise huge images of Nandi, the attendant of Lord Shiva. Hoysaleswara Temple stands as a testimonial of the bygone era. The outstanding structure of the temple has been accredited for being the epitome of Hindu architecture.
History of Hoysaleswara Temple:-
It is known that the famous temple derived its name from the King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara, who built the temple. A large amount of contribution was received from the Shaivas for the construction of the temple. It was built to compete with the Chennakesava temple which was under construction as a Vaishnava temple. The Hoysaleswara Temple is surrounded by ponds, mantapas and lakes. It is well known for the sculptures and architecture of Hoysala period.
This magnificent shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva is the largest and the best among Hoysala temples. Its construction was started in 1121, by “Ketumalla”, one of the officials of Vishnuvardhana and could be completed only by are more profusely carved. Even after working diligently for about a century, there are still some unfinished portions in this amazing edifice. The sculptural extravaganza has been lavishly praised by the experts, critics and common visitors. James Fergusson, an art and architecture expert known for being guarded with admiration was mesmerized by the beauty of the shrine. He remarks that the temple “may probably be considered as one of the most marvelous exhibitions of human labour to be found even in the patient east”. Percy Brown, an authority on Indian architecture wrote – “…this temples (Hoysaleswara)…is without exaggeration, one of the most remarkable monuments ever produced by the hand of man”. The complex consists of two identical temples, each with its own array of navranga and sukhanasi and Nandi mandapas. Both the sanctums have a characterstic star shaped ground plan and are set on a stone platform as seen in other Hoysala shrines. The temple on the northern side is named Shantaleshwara, after Shantala Devi, the beloved queen of Vishnuvardhana, while the southern side shrine is the Hoysaleswara temple. The two temple halls are joined by a common verandah creating a spacious columned interior. Thousands of intricately carved sculptures depicting scenes from the mythological epics Ramayana, Mahabharata, puranic legends, bheasts and beauties etc. adorn the temples walls. The horizontal and vertical friezes create a marvelous inerplay of light and shade. The lower portion of the temple are decorated with one of the most richly sculptured friezes whci run continuously along the wall. Above the friezes are larger figures of various mythological deities of Hindu pantheon. The upper portion of one wall has beautifully perforated screen, a hallmark of Hoysala art and exquisite figures of divinities set on pedestals with canopies. There are about thirty five thousand sculpted pieces in the shrine, noted for their breathtaking beauty, but the south doorway unrivalled for its filigree work is considered to be a master piece of delicate carving. The central figure portrays Lord Shiva with demon Andhakasur under his feet, while on the either side of the lintel are Hoysala motif depicting a man single – handedly fighting a tiger. Both the sanctums enshrine a east facing lingam, preceded by a Nandi bull, the celestial vehicle of Lord Shiva. Behind the nandi are the large figures of Lord Suryanarayan with seven horses and Arunadeva. The interiors of the temple are equally impressive with ornately carved pillars. The capitals of the pillars were once adorned with exquisite sculptures of voluptuous beauties known as Madanikas. But, now only one such figure has survived, while others are missing. The temple was restored recently, but it is no more active, as worship has been ceased here.
Significance of the Halebidu:-
The Hoysaleswara Temple and the Kedareswara Temple are popular tourist destinations of Halebidu. These temples are known for the intricate carvings which portray the golden age of Hoysala rule. Every sculpture is different from the other; the granular details of the postures are amazing.
The Temple complex consists of two Hindu temples, Hoysaleswara temple and the Kedareswara Temple and a Jain basadi, which has three temples within it.There is also an archaeological museum within the complex which helps you understand the importance of the sculptures and carvings of the shrines.
This archaeological museum was built in 1970 and consists of almost 1500 sculptures and inscriptions that have been recovered from the nearby places.Besides an enclosed gallery, there is also an open air museum, which displays an 18 feet image of a Tirthankara, Lord Krishna and Shiva in Tandava posture, Nataraja, Goddess Saraswati and dancing Ganesha.
These temples are constructed with soapstone.The walls of the Hoysaleswara temple are adorned with carvings of Hindu mythology, images of flora and fauna, dancers and shilabalikas. The temple is guarded by two monolith sculptures of Nandi the vahana of Lord Shiva, on each side.
The Jain basadi of the temple complex also exhibit fine sculptures, depicting the rich traditions and believes of Jainism.One of the Jain basadi is known as the Parshvanatha basadi. This basadi consists of a large sculpture of Lord Parshvanatha, which is 18 feet in height and made of black stone. A seven headed serpent over the head of the idol is considered to be guarding the deity.The 12 pillars of the Parshvanatha basadi are exquisitely carved out of a rock.
The Lakshmi Narayana idol of Hoysaleswara temple is famous due to its perfect carvings.
The outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple are adorned with sculptures of various deities of Hindu mythology.
The entrance of the Hoysaleswara temple is also adorned with sculptures of decked up elephants in a battling mood. This sculpture represents the way of entertainment of ancient India, where elephant fights were common.
The Kedareswara Temple represents the Trikutchala layout.The Kedareswara Temple also consists of a life size sculpture of Nandi.The Ganesha sculpture of the Kedareswara Temple is erected outside the Kedareswara temple, which seems to guard the temple of Lord Shiva.The relief of Lord Vishnu at the Kedareswara temple is in a standing posture, flanked with images of goddesses on both sides.
The relief of Arjuna at the Kedareswara temple depicts excerpts from the great Indian epic, Mahabharata.The Kedareswara temple also exhibits different avatars of Lord Vishnu, like the Varaha and Bamana avatar.
Places Of Interest:-
It is located in the landscaped garden in front of the Hoysaleswara temple and exhibits a rich collection of Hoysala sculptures.
It was built by Veerballala II and his younger queen Abhinava Ketala Devi in 1319. the shrine was described as a “Gem of Indian Architecture” by James Fergusson. According to an Indian critic – the temple “looked more like a divine piece of jewellery than a building made by mortals". The beautiful star shaped structure is set on a high platform in a quiet garden. The lower portion of the temple walls bear elaborately carved friezes depicting marching elephants, charging horses, lions, mythical beasts, swans and creeper scroll works. The upper parts of the wall have about 180 images of various gods an goddesses set under ornate arches. The profusely carved doorways, ceilings and pillars inside the shrine are noteworthy.
Basadi Halli (Jain Shrines):-
The three exquisite Jain shrines are set within a prakara to the south of Basadi Halli, not far from the Hoysaleswara temple. The temple dedicated to Jain tirthankar, Lord Parswanatha swamy is the most important. Other two shrines are dedicated to Shantinathaswamy and Adinathaswamy.
Sri Ranganatha Temple:-
It enshrines a magnificent image of Lord Ranganatha, reclining on the coil of a serpent. Lord Brahma is seated on the lotus emerging from the navel of Lord Ranganatha and Aridevi serving him at his feet.
Located at Belur, this temple was built during the Hoysala rule. Dedicated to Lord Chennakesava, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This temple is known for its fine sculptures and intricate carvings.
Sri Veera Narayana Temple: Located at 12 km from Halebidu, this temple is another gem of Hoysala architecture. The temple is mythologically important as it is believed that Bheema, the second brother of the Pandava brothers of the Great Indian epic of Mahabharata defeated demon Bakasura. Built in the 13th century, this temple is dedicated to three incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
A popular Jain pilgrimage, this historical site is located at 50 km from the Hassan district. It is famous for the tallest monolithic statue, a Bahubali statue of 58 feet made of granite.
Located at Mysore, the Chamundeswari Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. With various sculptures and a glorious history, this is one of the most beautiful temples of the state.
Situated at the Srirangapatna Island, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Within the massive temple complex of Ranganathaswamy Temple, there are precious relics exhibiting Hoysala and Vijaynagara architectural style.
The Mallikarjuna Temple:-
This temple is dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna and Goddess Parvati and is unique, being built by the Vijaynagara rulers using old materials.
Halebid Temple Timings:-
07.00 am - 09.30 pm.
Halebid Temple Entry Charges:-
How to Reach Hoysaleswara Temple:-
The nearest airport is Bangalore and Mysore, from there one will have to reach the temple by road.
The nearest railway station is located at Bangalore and Mysore and there are various trains running from Hassan to Mysore and Bangalore.
The temple is very close to Halebid and there are regular buses plying from Halebid to Hassan. One can easily take a bus or train to Hassan from Bangalore.