All You Need To Know About The Hoysaleswara Temple In Karnataka

The Hoysaleswara Temple near Mysore showcases intricate inscriptions and rich iconography, offering a vivid glimpse of 12th-century South Indian life and culture
Hoysaleswara Temple
Hoysaleswara TempleShutterstock

The Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu (also known as Halebeedu or Halebid), Karnataka, is a sacred temple devoted to Lord Shiva. It is situated approximately 150 kilometres away from Mysore. The Hoysala King initiated the temple's construction in the 12th century. However, it was plundered in the 14th century and fell into decay.

The Hoysalewala temple site was one of the earliest sites to be explored and photographed in the 1850s. The artwork at the temple is primarily intact, despite some damage. Over the years, it has undergone several restorations, but not all were fully documented. The ASI took careful measures to complete its restoration.

This temple and the nearby Jain Basadi Temple, Kedareshwara Temple, and Belar Kesava Temple are being proposed for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Architecture and Artwork

Inside the 12th century stone temple
Inside the 12th century stone templeShutterstock

The Hoysaleswara Temple is a magnificent piece of architecture situated on a lawn with a star-shaped base. This temple consists of twin shrines and is believed to be the largest Shiva temple built by the Hoysala empire, a Kannadiga power originating that ruled most of what is now Karnataka between the 10th and 14th centuries. The base comprises eight rows of friezes featuring intricate carvings of elephants, lions, horses, and floral scrolls. The temple walls are adorned with beautifully carved Hindu deities, sages, birds, stylized animals, and friezes depicting the life of Hoysala kings. The outer walls feature imagery from Indian epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha, and Bhagavad Gita, along with highly ornate temple doorways.

The Hoysaleswara Temple is considered one of the best in the country in elegantly capturing Indian epics. The temple also features a Nandimantapa, located right in front of the temple and houses a huge Nandi richly decorated with stone ornaments. Behind the Nandimantapa is a shrine dedicated to Surya, which features a 2-meter-tall image. The temple's interiors also boast exquisite carvings, with the highly polished lathe-turned pillars being the most striking item.

Brief History

Halebeedu, previously known as Dwarasamudra, served as the ancient capital of the Hoysalas and is located just 17 km from Belur. The Hoysala dynasty erected splendid temples of both Hindu and Jain faith. Unfortunately, in the 14th century, the armies of Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad Tughlak invaded the Hoysalas and looted a vast amount of wealth and riches.

As a result, the city never regained its former glory and fell into neglect, earning the name Halebeedu, which translates to "old house/old ruins." Despite the devastation, a few temples, such as the ones in Halebeedu, survived, and their stunningly intricate stone sculptures continue to mesmerize visitors today. Among such temples, the Hoysaleswara Temple is considered a prominent one.

Cover Photo Credits Shutterstock

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