After yet another cancellation of a Wayanad Trip (it's become totally jinxed now!) we made a hurried plan to visit Halebidu and Belur since we had only one day to spare.
Caught a 6 AM Karnataka Sampige bus from Kempegowda Bus Station, Bangalore and reached Hassan by around 10:30. From there we took another bus and reached Halebidu by 11:30.
The 12th Century Hoysaleshwara Temple stood majestically in the blazing sun. And no, I’m not talking about ruins here. Every stone, that has not been vandalized, stands its ground. Quite unbelievable that a 12th Century monument braved the wrath of nature and more importantly careless human vandalism.
When you come to a place as historic as this, it would be criminal to not engage a guide and learn more about the place. For Rs. 200 (with a receipt) you would end up earning more than you bargained for. Our guide turned out to be quite eloquent with the history of the temple and Hindu mythology in general. Hence you can imagine our shock when we found out that he was actually a Muslim! It was quite embarrassing to note that a Muslim knows more Hindu mythology than (a Hindu) me.
Coming to the artwork of the temple, all I can say is that it will blow your brains out of your skull. The imagination, the visualization, the talent and the execution is simply numbing. Attention to detail is buzzword among the Hoysala sculptors. Giving shape to their imaginations looks like piece of cake for these extremely skilled craftsmen. Jakkanna Achari is believed to be the chief architect of the Hoysala Temples in Halebidu and Belur.
The Hoysaleshwara temple is dedicated to the King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleshwara. The temple was built by one his Ministers. The temple has two main Nandi idols. The 9 ft Nandi is dedicated to King Vishnuvardhana and the 8 ft Nandi is dedicated to his queen Santhala. The facts regarding the temple, its idols, its structure (like a star), it’s artwork, it’s story telling through sculptures are all but staggering. Just when you find a dynasty spending 87 years with thousands of money and manpower as shocking, comes the biggest shocker of all. This city and hence with it, the temple, has been abandoned by the Hoysala rulers after two attacks by the Delhi Sultanate and then shifted base to Belur where they undertook the exercise all over again!
Two hours after we started our tour of this magnificent temple, we still wanted more of it! And more is what we got in the form of the Jain Temple and the Kedareshwara temple just half a kilometer behind the Hoysaleshwara Temple. The Kedareshwara temple is just like an extension of the Hoysaleshwara temple, whereas the Jain temple has some finely polished stone pillars where you can see your reflection – inverted!!!
While we were at Kedareshwara temple it started to rain, the first for the year, and it was just magical. The soapstone structure of these temples suddenly looked all the more appealing. We surely got more than we bargained for, from this trip to Halebidu, talking of which we still have Belur to devour…
Getting-there: Frequent KSRCT buses ply between Bangalore and Hassan. From Hassan you can take a bus to either Halebidu or Belur, whichever you chose to cover first.
Must-Do: Engage a guide to get a sneak peak into Hoysala Dynasty and interpretation of the sculptures.
Must-Don't: Vandalize the rich culture of our country!