04 September 2008

Belur, Halebeedu: Hoysala's Perfectionism

Note: This is a trackback post.

CarvingsA visit to Belur and Halebeedu was on cards for a long time. It materialized when we(Ctrl-Esc group) visited the places representing Hoyasala dynasty's architectural perfectionism, on our back way back to Bangalore after Rotikallu homestay trip.

Belur - Chennakeshava Temple.
In order to see the temple in detail, we availed a guide for Rs.150. Due to time constraints we requested the guide to keep the explanation precise. His explanation started from the purpose of construction. Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana decided to construct the temple as memorial after his victory over Cholas at Talakad. The succesors of Vishuvardhana, Vijaynarasimha and Veera Ballala carried forward the construction. The duration of construction was more than 100 years.

After the introduction the explanation switched to details. The guide explained various pillars inside the temple, by stressing on unique carvings on a few pillars. Each pillar has been sculpted in a different way, the most famous one is Narasimha pillar. Then he showed us a sculptor representing a perfect female, in compliance to Vatsayanas explanation in Kamasutra. Its length of forehead = nose = (lips+chin) and the waist was 18 inches!

Then we moved on important part of the temple i.e. bracket figures, popularly known as Shilabalikas. There are totally 42 bracket figures, 4 inside the temple and the rest outside. Each one represents a rupa of a female. The prominent ones are Darpana Sundari, Visha Kanya, Kite Dancer, Shantala Devi, Kesha Shrungraha, Mohini Nrutya.

The explanation was so fast that, I didn't get sufficient time to click the perfect picture. However I managed get a few of them properly.

Darpana Sundari
Darpana Sundari
Visha Kanya
Visha Kanya
Beauty Dance
Beauty Dancer
Kite Dancer
Kite Dancer

The other notable carvings in the main temple were vishu's ten avatars, hoysalas emblem, Ravana carrying atma linga, 16 year old boy marrying a donkey faced girl - indicates that a boy at such a young age would be desperate to marry any kind of girl, women wearing high heels footware, 3 story complex with grilled balcony.

Vishnu's ten avatars
Vishnu Avatars
High heeleds
High Heels
Boy marrying a donkey faced girl
16 year old boy with a donkey faced girl
Ravana Carrying Atma Linga
Ravana with Atma Linga

Other prominent things around the temple are Gopura at atop main entrance constructed by Vijaynagara empire, Gravity pillar in south-east, prototype of the temple in South, marriage hall in south-west and Kalyani in north-east.

Gopura atop the entrance
Gravity Pillar
Gravity Pillar

There were many more things see in detail and photograph. But it was already late evening we decided to move on to Halebeedu(16 km away).

Halebeedu - Hoysaleshwara Temple.
At Halebeedu, due to lack of time we explored the place on our own. There are two shiva temples each having big Nandi statues opposite to the entrances. Majority of the carvings were repetition of ones we had already seen Belur, like Ravana carrying atma linga etc. Unlike Belur , Halebeedu had a ASI monument feeling with green lawns and sign boards.

Hoysaleshwara Temple
Inside Hoysaleshwara Temple
Some carvings
Some carvings

Outside the temple you are bound be surrounded by people selling small idols made out of metal. The idols were nicely finished and may be made by a person having the DNA of the artists who had constructed the temples. If you are planning to buy the idols be ready to bargain, I bought three idols for Rs. 120.

To conclude, it was nice to visit the places with such a high architectural /historical significance, and looking forward to visit the place again by dedicating an entire day.


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    Without the mention of Amara Shilpi Jakkanachari - The Chief Sculptor of Belur, a story about Belur Halebeedu is incomplete.

  2. hi yesh, thanks for the inputs.