Temple Tales From Halebidu

We didn’t realise how hungry we were until we sat down for lunch that afternoon. It was well past lunch hours by all standards, and we were famished but nobody was complaining. The extraordinary Belur Temple had captured our senses and we had lost all sense of time. After a hearty South-Indian meal, we proceeded towards Halebidu, our next destination for the day. Visiting these magnificent temples was part of our impromptu road-trip to Hassan district of Karnataka.

Click here to read about Belur
Click here to read about the road-trip
Pic 1: The Dwarapalas or the guardians of the temple flanking the doorway.
Pic 2: A view of the outer wall built on a star-shaped platform, typical of Hoysala Temples.

Halebidu (also spelt as Halebeedu) is a short drive away from Belur, located at just 16 Km. The drive though short was lovely as it passed through villages with green fields lined with coconut trees. The well-paved road was perfect for our post-lunch drive. We were headed to Hoysaleswara Temple, which is the most important place to visit at Halebidu. Hoysala Palace and Kedareswara temple are the other places of significance at Halebidu, which we would not be able to cover as we were already running late.

In ancient times, Halebidu was known as Dwarasamudra, which is also the name of the huge man-made lake situated beside the temple. King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala Dynasty had established Dwarasamudra as the capital city of Hoysala Dynasty. Before that Belur used to be the capital.

Pic 3: The profusely carved outer wall showcasing Gods and Goddesses, warriors, musicians, mythical animals, and so on.
Pic 4: A closer look into some of the splendid intricate carvings on the outer wall

Hoysaleswara Temple was built during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana in the 12th century, over a period of 30 years. It was built before Belur Temple. Built of soapstone and without the use of any binding material, the architecture of both the temples is similar. The truly ornate and rich sculptural details both on the outside as well as inside is beyond imagination. Both the temples are beyond comparison and each one better than the other.

Both the temples are functional. While Belur Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Hoysaleswara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has two Shiva Lingas – Hoysaleswara and Santaleswara. The former is dedicated to King Vishnuvardhana and the latter to his Queen, Shantala Devi. The soothing calmness of the temple interior was elevating, and I found myself transfixed for a while staring at the Shiva Linga right in front of me.

Pic 5: One of the two deities, the Shiva Lingas. This one is Santaleswara. Photography of the more grand Hoysaleswara is not allowed.
Pic 6: One of the many sculptures on the outer wall of Lord Shiva with his consort Goddess Parvati.

The intricately detailed outer façade of the temple is spectacular, with unique sculptures that run all along the outer wall. Imagery from the epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita adorn the outer walls with highly ornate temple doorways. The Gods, Goddesses, sages, musicians, animals and birds tell tales depicting the life of Hoysala times.

It’s baffling to think about the diligence and patience of the artisans and sculptors of the bygone era. Today it’s unfathomable to imagine the creation of such exquisite architectural marvel, that too working through 30 long years dedicating one’s entire life to a single piece of art.

There are several sculptures of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati on the outer wall, each one different from the other. A large dancing image of Lord Ganesha is situated at one of the two temple entrances. Two Nandimantapas, each with a huge Nandi richly decorated with carved out stone ornaments are positioned right opposite the two Shiva Lingas.

Pic 7: One of the two Nandimantapas housing Nandi, Lord Shiva’s sacred bull.

I’ve mentioned this before and will not hesitate to say once again that the magnificence of Hoysala temples is something to be felt and experienced. It appeals to the senses and words fall short to describe their grandeur.

Click here to read about Somnathpur Temple (one of the three famous Hoysala Temples)

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

21 thoughts on “Temple Tales From Halebidu”

    1. That is what baffles me always, Maggie – the extraordinary craftsmanship of the artists of that era. It’s such a wonder – their thought process and mindsets, their patience and diligence, and so on.

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  1. Like you, I often think of how with our modern technology we might not be able to replicate what ancient artisans and sculptors had created. And that is why I’m endlessly impressed by the intricate reliefs found at centuries- and millennia-old temples in India and elsewhere. Although I’d love to see other parts of your country as well one day, I do hope I’ll get a chance to see a Hoysala temple at least once in my lifetime.

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    1. It’s a thing of wonder , one beyond our imagination – the extraordinary craftsmanship of the artists of that era. And, to think that we are more advanced than them. Back then, what wonders they have carved out with just a chisel and a hammer. I do hope you get to see these temples next time you come to India, Bama. And thank you so much for visiting my post. Also, sincere apologies for the delay in my response.

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  2. It was like reading/ knowing the place afresh, though I was one of your companion in that trip to Belur & Halibedu temples! You make the journey come alive with your crisp write up, so fascinating ! Me being a photo enthusiast, gave up capturing the intricate carvings on the temple complex, as each and every sq ft of the area were too good to miss out & its next to impossible to capture all of them! Truly, our rich ancient past & heritage are things that we should be proud of!

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    1. So true! The exquisite beauty cannot be captured through the lens of a camera. As I mentioned they appeal to your emotions and you have to feel them. Truly unbelievable. Hope we get to explore many more such places together.


    1. That’s true Parikhit. That’s what baffles me the most! To think that all these have been designed with maybe just a chisel and a hammer. Even more the patience they’ve had to so through so many years.

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  3. It’s always lovely to see it again. I went many times long back, but the last visit was 30 years ago. I even stayed overnight in a little government rest house once just to see the place before anyone came in. The village was really small then, and the cook could only get eggs at dinnertime. So I had rice with butter and eggs. Not a bad combination. I wonder what the village looks like now.

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    1. 30 years! You must plan a visit again and write a then and now post. How fascinating that would be. The surroundings would have completely changed. There’s a full-fledged crowded town all around now. I really hope you have the opportunity to be here soon.

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  4. A beautiful description of the temple complex, Neelanjana, giving the magificent edifices their due! I often wonder what the life of those amazingly talented artists of that period must have been like – dedicating their whole life to chisel away at these fascinating sculptures; leaving behind their anonymous mark upon history.

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    1. I have done no justice in describing the magnificent temple. It’s impossible to describe the exquisiteness of the sculptures and artwork in words, like I mentioned. The extraordinary craftsmanship and dedication of the artists is unfathomable. Yes, to think that they gave away their entire life and leaving behind their anonymous marks makes me wonder about their mindsets. Certainly there would be tonnes to learn for us in this technological era of quick fixes and our acute impatience.

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  5. Belur and Hoysaleswara Temples are awesome. Very beautiful stone carvings and very serene atmosphere throughout. Great salute to the artists of yesteryear s. Without much technology they made wonders ! This temple is a definite proof of their extraordinary talent and dedication.

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