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Your journey to India will be incomplete if you leave Karnataka without visiting the enchanting temples of Belur and Halebidu.
After returning from the trip, these temples built by the Hoysala Kings never left our memory. Amongst several destinations in and around Hassan, these temples will make you wonder what a human being can accomplish.
Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu
About 31 km away from Hassan stands the star-shaped Hoysaleshwara Temple of Halebidu. It is the largest Shiva temple constructed by the Hoysala kings.
The town of Halebidu in Karnataka once stood as a prosperous capital of the Hoysala Empire. The 12th-century Hoysaleshwara temple was constructed by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana in 1160 CE and is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is now listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Once you reach it, its mighty star-shaped structure will not fail to mesmerize you. The architecture, sculptures, and artistry of the Hoysala period are no joke. One can witness it in the sheer precision and intricacy with which the artists carved the soapstone. They depict elephants, lions, horses, birds, floral patterns, Hindu deities, sages, and the life of Hoysala kings. Moreover, you will also find scenes from the popular epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavad Gita carved on the walls.
Garuda Sthamba is a pillar paying homage to the loyalty of the bodyguards who lived with the Kings in those days. When the kings passed away, their bodyguards committed suicide. These structures are outstanding examples demonstrating the expertise of Indian artists and the beauty of Indian architecture.
Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
Chennakeshava Temple of Belur is located about 38 km away from Hassan. It was also built by King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE.
Unlike the Hoysaleshwara Temple of Halebidu, Chennakeshava Temple was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. It is said that the Hoysaleshwara Temple was built to compete with this temple for God Vishnu. This temple is also listed under UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The king commissioned this temple to the kingdom’s best architects and artists to demonstrate his military achievements. Many of the carvings on the pillars also depict such landmark events from the kings’ life.
Additionally, the intricately carved soapstone walls are adorned with dancing girls, mighty animals, and imagery from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The huntress and the lady with a parrot are two of the most popular attractions on the walls of the temple. Also, all the 48 pillars are carved and decorated differently.
While you are there, why don’t you visit these other famous destinations? Quench your thirst for history while polishing your photography skills. Check out some of the spots below:
- Kedareshwara Temple, Halebidu (Next to Chennakeshava Temple): 31 km from Hassan
- Shetty Halli Church: 23 km from Hassan
- Jain Matt, Shravanabelagola: 50 km from Hassan
- Bahubali Statue, Shravanabelagola: 50 km from Hassan
We are sure you would never regret travelling to Belur and Halebidu. You may even want to return to applaud its creators more than once. With its rich history and spots to awe at natural wonders in the region, there is something for everyone at Belur and Halebidu.