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India, the land of different cultures, hosts some of the most magnificent places for travellers. Amongst the many majestic places, Belur Halebid in Karnataka offers some of the most stunning monuments of history. Home to the Hoysala dynasty for three centuries (mid-11th to mid-14th century), Belur Halebid are twin cities that are separated by a short distance. Both the places carry an uncanny resemblance as they were founded by a Jain named Nripa Kama. Nripa Kama’s kingdom was stuck in the middle of the Chalukyas of Badami in the North and the Cholas of Thanjavur in the South. Vinayaditya, the son and successor of Nripa Kama is often misunderstood to be the founder of the dynasty by younger generations. Both Halebid and Belur are rare gems that defy history and remain untouched by time.
A soft stone, named ‘Chloritic Schist’ is used for making the stunning temples of Belur Halebid, as it allows intricate detailing, that the visitors can observe in the beautifully carved temple walls. All the sculptures inside the temple represent the tradition of ivory and sandalwood handwork. The temples have a high resemblance to the temples in Khajuraho. The exceptional engineering techniques used in assembling the temples like locking systems that used gridlocks, interlocks, and the pin and socket system attract a lot of wow factor from tourists. These impressive locking systems of Belur Halebid were used to attach separately carved panels onto the ceilings and walls, thus, helping them achieve an inseparable appearance for the disparate stone structures.
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
How to reach: by air/road/train
Famous for: Hoysala Empire, Temples and architecture
Best time to visit: October to March
Belur– Chenna Kesava Temple
Halebeedu– The Hoysaleswara Temple, Shantaleswara Temple and Kedareswara Temple
Known as the land of Kings and Temples, Belur is an ancient city located in Hassan district, on the banks of River Yagachi. Previously known as Velapura, Belur became the alternate capital city of the Hoysala Dynasty after the destruction of the capital Dwarasamudra. Being fond of temples and architecture, the Hoysalas constructed the best of their monuments in Belur. Belur Halebid is full of monuments that depict the stunning architecture and exceptionally beautiful sculptures. A lot of people from all over the world travel to Belur every year to experience its cultural significance and the peerless history of the Hoysala Dynasty.
Temples and its Architecture
Known as the modern heaven of Earth,Belur has some of the most significant monuments and temples from the Hoysala Dynasty. Some of the significant architectural spots and temples in and around Belur are:-
CHENNAKESAVA TEMPLE: This exceptional architectural wonder dedicates itself to Lord Vijayanarayana, who was amongst Lord Vishnu’s twenty-four incarnations. Built by King Vishnuvardhana, the temple’s architecture has Chalukyan elements. The completion of the temple took 103 years, and the walls of the temples have exquisite carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayana, Upanishads, and Mahabharata. Darpana Sundari’s sculpture is remarkable for its flawless craftsmanship.
KAPPE CHENNIGARAYA TEMPLE: This small and iconic shrine is located towards the south of the Chenna Kesava temple. It is devoted to Kappe Chennigaraya and has a lot of resemblance to the main temple. Consecrated by Shantala Devi, the ravishing idol of the deity attracts a lot of tourists every year.
VEERANARAYANA TEMPLE, BELAVADI: Located towards the west of the Chenna Kesava temple, the sheer artistic appeal of this temple impresses all the tourists. Dedicated to Laxmi Narayana, the walls of the temple have large images that enhance the beauty of the temple. The picture depicting the ‘Three Crowned Heads’ of Chenna Kesava, Vijaya Narayana, and Lakshmi Narayana is the most famous painting.
Located in Karnataka’s Hassan district, Halebid was built during 1121 A.D by Ketumalla, who was the chief of staff of Hoysala Kingdom. Halebid is dedicated to Ketumalla’s queen, Shantala Devi, and king, Vishnuvardhana. It took 105 years for the construction of the temple. It is believed that if people stand on the platform of the temple and look around, then they will see the hills on the opposite side, two big bulls facing the temple, and a Ganesha figure towards the south. The sculptors of the temple are inspired by Queen Shantala Devi and her courtesans.
Temples and its Architecture
Halebid means the ‘City of Ruins,’ and it got its name because it was turned into ruins by the Mughals from North India. Some of the significant architectural spots and temples are:
HOYSALESWARA TEMPLE: Hoysaleswara Temple is one of the most iconic temples located in Halebid, Hassan, and it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The King of Hoysala began the construction of the temple in the 12th century. The Hoysaleswara Temple fell into ruins after being looted in the 14th century. The temple got its name from Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara, the King at that time, and it was built to compete with the Chennakesava temple. The Hoysaleswara Temple is surrounded by lakes, ponds, and mandapas, and it is very famous for the architecture and sculptures of the Hoysala period.
SHANTALESWARA TEMPLE: The Shantaleswara temple was built for the queen of king Vishnuvardhana, Shantala Devi. The temple stands on a platform in shining chlorite schist and is covered with a variety of animals, gods and goddesses, dancing girls, and birds. More than 20,000 laborers worked together and built the temple in 190 years. The temple also houses a museum that showcases the sculptures and gold coins use during the 12th century. The tourists should also check the Basti hill that has various Jain bast is with black stone pillars.