photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Karthik Raja | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Incredible India >> Belur & Halebidu, Karnataka tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Belur & Halebidu, Karnataka

Belur and Halebidu (Halebeedu) are two magnificent temples around 4 hours (220km - 240km) drive from Bangalore, Karnataka. Both can be covered in a long day's trip (7am - 9pm) though you can spend a night in Hassan and also cover the Jain shrine at Sharavanbelagola and Mysore on Day 2.

There is a legend that a young man (Sala) was asked by his Jain guru Sudatta to kill a tiger he encountered near the temple of the Goddess Vasantika at Sosevur which he bravely did. The word to kill or strike translates into "Hoy" in Kannada and thus the origin of the word Hoysala and the boy became the first king of the Hoysala empire. The Hoysalas ruled Karnataka between the 11th and 14th centuries AD and contributed immensely to the art and architecture of the region. They used soapstone (chloritic schist) for their construction which enabled the artists of that period to carve intricate designs and add detail to their sculptures. The temples of Belur and Halebidu are both being considered for the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing.

The Chennakesava Temple is the main attraction in Belur and was commissioned by King Vishnuvardhana around 1117. The temple has one shrine with an idol of Lord Kesava (Vishnu), commissioned by Shantala Devi, queen of king Vishnuvardhana. The main gopuram at the entrance was a later addition by the Vijayanagar Empire. The temple is known for its symmetrical corners and the 42 beautiful sculptures of maidens in various postures (madanikas). Some madanikas that are popular with tourists are the Darpana Sundari (beauty with mirror), "The lady with the parrot", "The huntress" and Bhasma mohini. The 4 inside are more intricately carved with attention being paid to the detail of their jewels too. Inside the temple is a pillar depicting Narasimha that at one time could revolve on its ball bearings.

Halebidu is 16km from Belur and was the capital of the Hoysala empire in the 12th century. It is home to one of the best examples of Hoysala architecture in the ornate Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara temples though they were never completed and was ruined through repeated attacks by enemy empires and later ravaging by the British. Halebid translates into Ruined City and today though the temple is protected by the ASI it is still in need of funds for proper maintenance and construction of tourist facilities.

The Hoysaleswara temple is larger than the temple at Belur and has two shrines and double the number of symmetrical corners. It is also constructed from soapstone. While the sculptures are not as intricate as the ones in Belur the outside facade of the Halebidu temple is of far more interest as it depicts multiple stories, legends and myths.

These temples have existed for almost a 1000 years now and they are definitely worth seeing.

Farming near Belur
Farming near Belur
Agriculture is the main livelyhood in the Belur area
Agriculture is the main livelyhood in the Belur area
Lake by the Halebidu temple
Lake by the Halebidu temple
Coconut groves in Hassan district
Coconut groves in Hassan district
Belur Rayagopuram
Belur Rayagopuram
The rain clouds and the birds add to the beauty of Belur
The rain clouds and the birds add to the beauty of Belur
Kappe Chennigraya temple, Belur
Kappe Chennigraya temple, Belur
Kappe Chennigraya temple side view, Belur
Kappe Chennigraya temple side view, Belur
Lakshminarayana temple, Belur
Lakshminarayana temple, Belur
Andal Temple, Belur
Andal Temple, Belur
Chennakesava Temple with Bhumija towers, Belur
Chennakesava Temple with Bhumija towers, Belur
Intricate art inside the main mantap in Belur
Intricate art inside the main mantap in Belur
Sala, Hoy! Hoysala emblem, Belur
Sala, Hoy! Hoysala emblem, Belur
Miniature carvings, Belur
Miniature carvings, Belur
Lord Vishnu, Belur
Lord Vishnu, Belur
Idol inside the Chennakesava Temple, Belur
Idol inside the Chennakesava Temple, Belur
Shilabalika - Darpana Sundari (beauty with mirror), Belur
Shilabalika - Darpana Sundari (beauty with mirror), Belur
Shilabalika - Lady with parrot, Belur
Shilabalika - Lady with parrot, Belur
Shilabalika - dancer, Belur
Shilabalika - dancer, Belur
Shilabalika - a maid removes a thorn, Belur
Shilabalika - a maid removes a thorn, Belur
Shilabalika - celestial dancer, Belur
Shilabalika - celestial dancer, Belur
Maidens in a row and in tow, Belur
Maidens in a row and in tow, Belur
Narasimha avatar - see the intricate chain links, Belur
Narasimha avatar - see the intricate chain links, Belur
Varaha Avatar, Belur
Varaha Avatar, Belur
Halebidu - Nandi structure
Halebidu - Nandi structure
Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu
Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu
Kedareshwara Temple, Halebidu
Kedareshwara Temple, Halebidu
A view of both shrines, Halebidu
A view of both shrines, Halebidu
Temple with the latticed windows, Halebidu
Temple with the latticed windows, Halebidu
Outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu
Outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu
The galloping warrior, Halebidu
The galloping warrior, Halebidu
Lord Shiva, Halebidu
Lord Shiva, Halebidu
GOD - Giver, Operator, Destroyer, Halebidu
GOD - Giver, Operator, Destroyer, Halebidu
Mythical creature, Halebidu
Mythical creature, Halebidu
Mahabharata war, Halebidu
Mahabharata war, Halebidu
War of the gods, Halebidu
War of the gods, Halebidu
Rama giving Hanuman the ring to give Sita, Halebidu
Rama giving Hanuman the ring to give Sita, Halebidu
Chakravyuha, Abhimanyu's trap, Halebidu
Chakravyuha, Abhimanyu's trap, Halebidu
Nandi 1 in Halebidu, 6th largest in India
Nandi 1 in Halebidu, 6th largest in India
Nandi 2 in Halebidu, 7th largest in India
Nandi 2 in Halebidu, 7th largest in India
Intricate detail on warrior, Halebidu
Intricate detail on warrior, Halebidu
Beautiful jewellery on damsel, Halebidu
Beautiful jewellery on damsel, Halebidu
Shiva Parvathi, Halebidu
Shiva Parvathi, Halebidu
Arjuna sculpture in Halebidu
Arjuna sculpture in Halebidu
Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain, Halebidu
Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain, Halebidu
Vishnu avatar, Varaha - Halebidu
Vishnu avatar, Varaha - Halebidu
Vishnu avatar, Narasimha - Halebidu
Vishnu avatar, Narasimha - Halebidu
Vishnu avatar, Vamana - Halebidu
Vishnu avatar, Vamana - Halebidu
Pure form of Ganesha - notice the trunk facing right, Halebidu
Pure form of Ganesha - notice the trunk facing right, Halebidu
Large Ganesha sculpture at the entrance to Halebidu temple
Large Ganesha sculpture at the entrance to Halebidu temple
Ganesha, Halebidu
Ganesha, Halebidu
Ornate door, Halebidu
Ornate door, Halebidu