Halebid, Halebid Tour, Halebid in Karnataka


Information about Halebid

This ancient capital of Hoysala’s was founded in the early 11th century and named Dwarasamudra, after a huge artificial lake of the same name, dating back to 9th century. The flourishing capital city had a small fortress with a magnificent palace. It was fortified with a wall of enormous boulders and a moat that was connected with the lake. Halebid attained glorious heights during the reign of Ballala – II, the grandson of Vishnuvardhana. The Hoysala expire extended from river Kaveriin the west to Krishna in the east and was enriched by the fertile deltas of the rivers. Its prosperity attracted the forces of Delhi Sultanate, who invaded and annexed the town in 1311. malik Kafur, the Muslim general is said to have taken away camel-loads of jewellery, gold and silver from here. In 1326, it was again attacked and ravaged by the forces of Mohammad bin Tughlak. Repeated attacks and the killing of king Ballala III, in the battle against the Sultan of Madura in 1342, forced the Hysalas to relinquish their beautiful capital. The town was then nostalgically referred to as ‘Halebid’ or the ‘Old Capital’. The Hoysalas built over 150 exquisite temples in southern Karnataka, but the temples at Halebid, Belur and Somnathpur are considered to be outstanding. Halebid has several strikingly beautiful Hoysala temples and Jain shrines, most of them are now in a dilapidated condition. The figure carvings at Halebid temples are larger and more exquisitely carved in comparision with other temples located nearby.

Tourist Attractions in Halebid
Hoysalaeswara Temple
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.

Archaeological Museum
It is located in the landscaped garden in front of the Hoysaleswara temple and exhibits a rich collection of Hoysala sculptures.

Kedareswara Temple
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.

How to reach Halebid

By Air:

Nearest airport is at Mangalore

By Rail:

Nearest railhead Hassan (33 kms.)

By Road:
Halebid and Belur are just 16kms. apart and well connected by road. Bangalore is about 220 kms.from here

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