Belur, Halebidu & Hulikere

After a lot of false starts over the past year, was able to finally visit the temples in Belur and Halebidu this Diwali. Though the plan was to visit Mysore, I was able to squeeze in a visit to the great Hoysala temples for a day and it was well worth it.

The drive from Mysore was through one of the most fertile areas I've seen. Cauvery was in spate and so does the various tributaries we came across. The land was lush with greenery, water and the paddy in the tables across different elevation was a treat to watch. It was slightly drizzling as well, roads were real good, there is nothing I could find wrong with on that day.

Belur is close to Hassan and is nothing but a big sized village. The Chennakesava temple in the midst of it is the biggest tourist attraction and is being well-maintained by ASI.

The Hoysala emblem is everywhere to be seen and of course, the exploits of the Hoysala kings made up for good stories for Sibi. History, when taught at the right places, is so charming to engulf you into it.
Though I was aware that there was a strong Jain influence in those times, was surprised to see an actual Hoysala style Gomathiswara statue in the temple. But then the dancing sculptures in the temple were based on the Jain dancer Shanthala Devi. So in a way, there is nothing to be surprised about it as well.

Outer panel with Garuda in the bottom with Dasavathara sculptures, In the center is Ukra Narashima

The Hoysala Royal symbol

Front Elevation

A panoramic view of the temple
The gopuram outside conceals the temple well and so when entering the elevation of the temple hits you beautifully and the star-shaped structure makes for a great picture.I was a bit surprised that photography was allowed till the inner sanctum but nonetheless, the interiors were beautiful with the standard Hoysala-type pillars and extensive ornate arrangements on the ceiling.
The real treat lies in the outer walls of the temple which is full of beautiful, intricate sculptures and though we spent about 1.5 hours, it was definitely not enough to go through each and every part of the temple.

Dancing sculptures in the outer stone window panels
Next stop was the Hoysaleshwara temple in Halebidu. Belur to be the capital of the Hoysalas till the Muslim invasions forced them to move it to Halebidu. This is a Shiva temple which is a bit of a surprise, as I assumed it to be a Vishnu temple as Hoysalas were primarily vaishnavites.

Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu

Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu on the outer panel

Shiva Parvathi
The outer walls were full of small sculptures narrating the stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata etc. Sibi had lots of fun trying to find the stories represented in the panels and though was complaining about visiting so many temples, loved the exercise. I was a bit surprised that he has read so much and know so many stories. Kids grow up real fast.

A scene from Ramayana

The dancing girl next to ChennaKesava is the Jain Shantala Devi, queen of Vishnuvardhana

Also visited the small village of Hulikere to see the 'Kalyani' (temple tank) there. Because of the rains, it was filled to the brink and could only see the mandaps on the corners.

The beautiful Kalyani in Hulikere

Though we could make out the structure a bit, it was a bit of a disappointment not to be able to see this beautiful tank.

More pictures:- - Belur - Halebidu & Hulikere

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