After visiting the Sravanabelagola Jain temple, we went to our next stop on the itinerary – the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu. We reached the temples complex on a road through beautiful green fields, lakes with coconut trees hanging by its sides and dirt roads that ensured we went slow enough to taking this breathtaking beauty in.
Halebidu was the capital of the Hoysala kingdom. The Hoysaleswara temple, besides the artificial lake Dwarasamudram was built in the 12th century AD and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful Indian temples. It is believed that the temple was created at the peak of Hindu civilization in India by Ketumalla, the chief of staff of Vishnuvardhana. Vishnuvardhana was instrumental in building the Chennakesava temple at Belur. It is believed that the Shiva temple at Hoysaleswara was commissioned in competition to the Vishnu temple at Belur.
Elephants form the base frieze of the extensive carvings on the temple walls. Elephants it seems support the entire temple walls on their shoulders. Here is another beautiful carving of elephants fighting in battle:
The Thai lions engraved here on the temple walls caught my eye. It seems that there was significant cultural interchanges between 12th century India and Thailand.
The exterior walls of the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu are intricately carved with horizontal friezes depicting stories from the Epics and Mythology, animals and birds such as horses, makaras, elephants, lions apart from floral designs, creepers etc.
Massive lathe turned pillars are considered to be one of the specific characteristics of the Hoysala architecture. Lathe turned pillars were first created by the Chalukyas, but the Hoysalas improved and created more intricate designs on these pillars. It was believed that some kind of mechanization was employed in the creation of these pillars.
Being a Shiva temple, in front of the shrine there is a mandapam with a huge Nandi.
The Hoysaleswara temple was ransacked by Muslim invaders in the 14th century and it fell in to a state of neglect. Currently the temple if functional and pooja is offered in the temple, but its dilapidated condition does reduce the allure.
Indian culture has survived through the ages because of temples and constructions like these. Our mythologies, our stories and our history have been literally carved in stone and preserved for future generations. I wish that the temple is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. It will go a long way in preserving our culture and traditions.