Belur And Halebid: A Religion On Stone

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Belur Temple Entrance Gopura

If you want to see Architectural marvel there is no  other place like temples in Belur and Halebid, Karnataka. These temple towns are mentioned often in single breath because of the similar style of carvings and also because of their proximity to each other.

Belur – Lord Chennakeshwara Temple

It is stated that “what the Parthenon is to Greece and the Pyramids to Egypt, the Hoysala temples are to South Indian architecture”. Jakkanna Achari is credited as the Chief architect of these two temples. Between A.D 1000 and A.D 1346 around 1,500 temples in 958 centres,  were built during the Hoysala period.

Belur – Hoysala the warrior combating the tiger

The word “Hoysala”, means ?strike Sala!?, was uttered  to Sala, the well known leader of this dynasty, as he carried out armed combat with a tiger. Sala became a legend  by single-handedly killing the beast, and this tale of the warrior’s heroism  inspired the royal insignia of the Hoysala Dynasty, also to be found in the temple architecture.

Belur – Pillar balanced on its own center of gravity

Situated approximately 222 kms from Bangalore, both these temples can be visited in one day and return back to Bangalore.  One could  take the train or bus to Hasan and from there rent a car to Belur and Halebid. The distance between two towns are only 17kms which can be covered by either taxi, autoricksha and if you are avid cyclist, you can rent a bicycle.

Belur Temple Wall adorns with intricate carvings

Belur’s main temple, Lord Chennakeshava, dedicated to Lord Krishna,  was built at the instance of  King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD to celebrate Hoysala war victories. It took over 103 years to complete.  The sheer beauty of the temple will take visitors breath away. The intricate carvings are a treat to the eyes. Its an ethereal experience and one will be  humbled by the beauty and craftsmanship.The exterior is covered with a variety of sculptures and friezes. The interior contains exquisite panels and richly-carved pillars. A tall stone pillar in the temple courtyard is readily visible and is balanced,  only by its centre of gravity!!

Halebid Temple – part of the wall showing miniature carvings

The name Halebid….literally means, ‘old village’  and is about 17kms away from Belur. Halebid, famous for its Hoyasaleswara temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The construction of the Hoyasaleswara Temple was started in AD 1121 and continued for around 90 years, but never completely finished. Even in its incomplete form, this temple is the most remarkable example of Hoysala art and architecture. Every part of the walls of this temple is adorned by a continuing variety of Hindu deities, sages, animals and many other art forms. The temple is surrounded by a garden and there is also a museum  nearby.

Halebid – Statue of Nandi

Unfortunately of the two temples only Belur  Lord Chennakeshwara temple is available for worship. Guides are plenty near both temples who will enlighten you about temple architecture and history. As anywhere else where tourist come, there are hawkers who will try to sell miniature carvings and other memorabilia.

Intricate carving of a dancing girl…Belur(L)Belur Temple – Statue of Garuda(R)

I enjoyed this trip immensely and  is a must trip for everybody who loves Architecture at its best.

Carving of Three Men….4 legs…Belur

Halebid – Statue of Lord Ganesha

Halebid – Lord Shiva Temple

Vishnu Padha..Belur


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