Hoysaleswara Temple

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Weather:

Time Required: 2-3 hrs

Timings:

6:30 AM - 9:00 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee
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Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu Overview

Hoysaleswara or Halebid Temple is a 12 century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in the west of the Dwarasamudra lake in a small town of Halebid in Karnataka, this magnificent temple is one of the three most landmark monument of Hoysala empire and is also the most significant monument dedicated to Lord Shiva in south India. The designing and decoration of the temple are done by the famous Shilpkar Kedoraja. Its extremely elaborate walls proudly wear the stories of various Gods and brave Hoysala soldiers in the form of beautiful sculptures engraved on its walls. It attracts thousands of devotees year round as it is well known for its architecture and statues of the Hoysala period.


The magnificent temple derives its name from the preceding ruler of Hoysala dynasty who sponsored its construction, King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara. The construction was started in 1121CE and was complete in 1160CE. The temple is a simple Dvikuta Vimala, meaning that it houses two main shrines; one dedicated to Hoysaleswara and another to Shantaleswara (named after Shantala Devi, wife and queen of King Vishnuvardhana). Apart from the two main shrines, there is a 7 ft tall image depicting the Sun God, Lord Surya and a massive sculpture of Nandi (Shiva's attendant). 

Today, the artwork and the architecture of the Hoysaleswara Temple are damaged because of the sacking by Muslims armies in the late 14th century. However, it is mostly intact, and the temple itself is considered as one of the seven wonders of the country. It has also been proposed to be listed under the UNESCO world heritage sites.

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There is an open archaeological museum on the temple complex, displaying sculptures, coins, inscriptions and wood carving idols. Among them is a giant sculpture of a sitting Nandi and Lord Ganesh. The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on all days except Friday. Photography inside the museum is not allowed, and an entrance fee has to be paid.

Near the ticketing booth of the museum, you will find a collection of thin but rewarding books on sale. Most of the books are in Kannada, but you can try and hunt for a few English titles.

Another impressive sight to be seen are the Jain Basti around 1 km to the south of the temple. The 12th-century basis stands in a garden enclosure and boost of dark mystic interiors and carved ceiling.

Walk a few more meters down the same around, and you will reach the 13th-century Kedareshwar temple.

1. If you are not an expert on Hoysala architecture, it's best to hire the services of a guide to walk you the stunning temple. A guide can also help you get through the immense hoard of tourists.
However, as in most tourist destinations, the guides here are ready to hoard you upon arrival. So be prepared for that and pick a guide that you can connect with the most.
2. Photography at the temple is prohibited so be careful with the cameras.
3. The temple has a pretty big garden complex. So, after completing your sightseeing, you can enjoy a nice picnic lunch under the shady trees near the temple.
4. Late mornings or early afternoons in this part of the country can be really harsh. So, take a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water with you.
5. Take time out and visit the Kadareswara temple just a few minutes away.

The architecture of the regal temple is often regarded as a perfect example of Hoysala style of architecture and is acclaimed as the "Supreme climax of Indian architecture". Quite like the Belur temple, this magnificent temple is also built upon a star-shaped platform with small shrines toward temple doors. Each of the shrines is adorned with stone friezes depicting lions, elephants and horses. There are a small lake and a park having beautifully manicured palm trees and open grassy field.

The Hoysaleswara temple itself is made up of Chloritic Schist (Soapstone) and stands on a raised platform. This raised platform to provide the architect with enough space, both horizontally and vertically, to depict small and large sculptures.

The outer walls of the temple are engraved with hundreds of carving telling tales of Mahabharat and Ramayan. The architect must have been made to fill the entire outer wall with beautiful sculptures without leaving any space. But, the main speciality is that no two sculptures here are the same. Various sculptures depicts different designs such as, Lord Krishna lifting mount Govardhan, Bhishma Pitamh dying on the bed of arrows, Lord Ram killing the golden deer, Ram and Sita with monkeys, Krishna with his gopi etc. The sculptures look so beautiful that it would take a really devout pilgrim to focus on the God.

The most complex of all these sculptures are the two beams present over the southern and the eastern entryway. Another incredible feat is the beautifully sculpted statue of Shiva's attended Nandi. The statue is acclaimed to be one of the largest monolithic status of the character In India. A magnificent statue sits at one end of the lake. The park and the lake provides a terrific spot for photography, prayer and picnic.

Inside, the mighty temple is laid out in a dual plan combining the two shrines of the Hoysaleswara and Santaleshwara. Both the shrines are placed next to each other and is in the shape of the Shiva Linga (the universal shape of Lord Shiva). Compared to the complex exterior the interior is quite simple. There are four different porches serving as four entryways (however only the north one is open for the visitors). The most capturing element in here is the Garuda Stambha, a rare pillar depicting the story of king's bodyguards.

The best time to visit the temple is from November to March. Rest of the year, the weather in Halebid is too hot for a pleasant travel.

1. No two sculpture at the Hoysaleswara Temple depict same design.
2. Out of the original 84 female figures, only 14 remain. Rest were stolen.
3. Even after around 80 years of construction, the temple was not entirely built.

Dwarasamudra (the gateway to the ocean) was the ancient name of the city in which the Hoysaleswara Temple was constructed. The city was ransacked two times by the Muslim army of Delhi Sultanate attacked the city. After this, the city of Dwarasamudra was renamed as Halebidu (the city of ruins). However, not even the extreme plundering of the Muslim army could destroy the beauty and the serenity of the ancient temple of Halebid.

The credits of the commission and construction of the temple are mostly given to the erstwhile ruler of the dynasty, King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara, but it is believed that one of the King's ministers Ketamala was the significant contributor in the commission of the temple. This confusion in the main commissioner is caused mostly because, unlike all the other Hoysala monuments, the Hoysaleswara temple lacks the dedication inscription. It was built to compete with the Chennakesava temple, which was under construction as a Vaishnava temple. The construction of this shrine was completed in 1121 CE. 

The Hoysaleswara temple in Halebid is accessible from almost every city and town of Karnataka by regular buses starting from 5:30 AM and hired taxis. There are regular buses from Hassan. The temple is only accessible by road.

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