This is the penultimate blog post in my Chikmagalur series. In my previous blog post, I wrote about my experience of visiting the beautiful Chennakeshava temple in Belur. The temple showcased the grandeur and finesse of Hoysala craftsmanship and I totally loved spending time there.
In this post, let us turn our attention to Hoysaleshwara Temple, another architectural marvel that you must visit when you’re in Chikmagalur. I’ll share all the details along with my experience of visiting the majestic Hoysaleshwara Temple.
Halebidu: A Glimpse into Hoysala Heritage
Located at about 50 km from Chikmagalur and 25 km east of Belur is the historic town of Halebidu. The name Halebidu translates to old city in Kannada which signifies its historical importance. It is also on the tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The city holds immense importance in the history of Karnataka. Halebidu witnessed the golden period from the 12th to 14th century when it was the center of cultural and architectural brilliance. Halebidu and Belur are often referred to as sister cities while Halebidu later became the primary seat of the Hoysalas.
Rulers like Vishnuvardhan and Ballala along with others adorned the city with magnificent structures, including the HoysaleshwaraTemple which stands as the epitome of the Hoysala dynasty.
HoysaleshwaraTemple – From Conception to Glory
Built in the 12th century, Hoysaleshwara Temple has a rich history that goes beyond its remarkable craftsmanship. The temple was built during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana who was one of the most notable rulers of the Hoysala dynasty. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple was commissioned as an expression of devotion and to establish a place of worship dedicated to the lord.
Hoysala rulers were patrons of art, culture, and religion and that is quite evident from the temples and other architectural buildings they created. These were means of showcasing their power and wealth. The temple was a representation of their devotion to Lord Shiva and their desire to create a sense of religious identity among their people.
Throughout history though, the temple witnessed various attacks by different rulers including the mighty Delhi Sultanate. These invasions led to severe damage, however, subsequent rulers took efforts to restore and preserve the temple. Even today, there’s a small museum in the complex which has various artifacts that were recovered from the temple that is of great historical importance.
The Hoysaleshwara temple showcases a marvelous display of architectural brilliance both on the outside and inside. Either way, the temple is a magnificent example of intricate craftsmanship. The walls are adorned with an extensive array of intricate carvings depicting various mythological stories and scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayan. Compared to the Chennakeshava temple, the carvings here are even more intricate. Further, as per the guide, the base of the Chennakeshava temple has 32 petals while the Hoysaleshwara Temple has 64 petals.
The outer walls are profusely carved showcasing Gods and Goddesses, dancers, warriors, and other mythical animals. It’s just amazing to imagine the craftsmanship. Without any modern-day tools like imaging or printers, the artists were able to make such intricate carvings. The facade of the Hoysaleshwara temple has a story to tell through the sculptures. You can find a lot of depictions of Shiva and Parvati in different postures with serene expressions.
The interiors of Hoysaleshwara temple offer a captivating view journey into the world of storytelling. From finely carved pillars to intricate ceilings, there is a plethora of sculptures that depict various mythical stories. One of the interesting scenes that is depicted here is “Samudra Manthan” (Churning of the Ocean) which portrays Gods and Goddesses pulling the serpent Vasuki in their effort to churn the celestial ocean. Apart from this, scenes from the battlefield of Mahabharat are also present.
But what left me speechless are the ceilings. No matter how you admire them, every glance at them and you’ll discover something new. The exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail in these sculptures reflect the dedication of the Hoysala dynasty to create a visual narrative of their religious beliefs. So when you’re here, make sure to hire a guide who can tell you more about the temple which will make you appreciate the temple even more.
A Timeless Masterpiece of Art and Devotion
The sister cities of Belur and Halebidu might be very small towns on the map of India, but they hold an extremely important part of our culture. Both Chennakeshava Temple and Hoysaleshwara Temple stand as a testament to the artistic brilliance and devotion of the Hoysala dynasty.
The Hoysaleshwara temple serves as a reminder of the deep-rooted connection between art and spirituality. Each carving, each pillar within the temple has a tale to tell of Gods, Goddesses, and mythical beings. The temple has witnessed the rise and fall of empires and stands tall with the test of time.
Visiting the Hoysaleshwara temple is an enriching experience that you must experience when you are in Chikmagalur. That’s about it from me on this blog post, I hope you find this insightful. Do share your thoughts in the comments below, tweet to me at @atulmaharaj, DM on Instagram, or get in touch.