Tag Archives: Cholas

Belur & Halebid – For the Love of Hoysala Architecture

These have been places that were on my itinerary from the time I’d been researching on Ancient Indian Technology, for my BarCampMumbai talk. Certainly fascinating, this & Hampi… Hampi was last on the agenda, but this place equally fascinating, for it’s wonderful and truly magnificient architecture that it shares with us from the ancient times of the 11th Century… Remarkable in it’s own stature, this has to be a place that is not so pompous and done to death by a lot of tourists, at the same time the places have a significant relevance in Karnataka tourism. Many tourism buses take tours and get people from all over the world to visit this fascinating place of art, history and significant culture. Why has it been so fascinating? Well, this relatively long but enchanting blog post that I’d like to write now, will probably tell you all about it.


Beautiful Belur, the quaint little town set elegantly on the banks of river Yagachi, amidst lush surroundings was earlier known as Velapuri. It was chosen as the capital of the Hoysalas, after the ascking and destruction of their capital at Dwarasamudra (Halebeedu) by delhi Sultans. The Hoysalas ruled the reigon between 44th and 13th Centuries. They were great patrons of art and architecture and built a number of magnificient shrines during their 300 years reign. The temples and monuments at Belur are amazing with their sculptures and architecture. Belur was revered for its magnificent shrines and came to be known as Modern Vaikuntha. Heaven on earth.

The Hoysala temples are characterised by Typical star shaped ground plan and are usually set on a platform. They are compact structures. Ornately careved shrines indicate the musica and dance were highly regarded by the Hoysalas and used to express religious fervor. The temples of Belur are carved out of soap stone.

Hoysala dynasty is believed to be named after the words ‘hoy Sala’ meaning ‘Strike Sala’, which were called out to Sala, the legendary head of this dynasty. When he was combating a tiger single handedly. Sala killed the tiger and this act of bravery was immortalised in the royal emblem of the dynasty. The Hoysalas ruled the Deccan and parts of Tamil Nadu between the 11th and 13th centuries. They had their origins in the hill tribes of the Western Ghats converted to Jainism in 10th century.

How To Reach:

By Rail: Hassan around 37 kms. And then take a local bus.

By Bus : It’s easy to take a bus to Hassan from Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore. From there take a local bus.

Chenna Keshava Temple:

The magnificent shrine dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayana, one of the twenty four incarnations of Vishnu was built to commemorate the Victory of Hoysalas over Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. Some believe that it was constructed when Vishnyvardhana adopted Vaishnavism under the influence of the great guru Sri Ramanujacharya.

The construction of the temple commenced in 1116 A.D. at the instance of King Vishnuvardhana, his son and later on his grandson actually completed the construction of the temple. As per historical records, around 103 years to complete this beautifully sculpted temple complex. It is definitely the masterpiece in Hoysala Architecture.

Saumyanayaki Temple

This is another important shrine in the temple complex, it is towards the south west of Keshava temple and is adorned with an elegant Viman a, said to be resembling the vimana atop the Keshava temple, which was dismantled in 1879

Godess Andal Shrine

The sacred shrine in the temple complex is associated with poet saint Alwar. Its outer walls are also decoreated with rows of large image. Other smaller shrines  in the complex are of Ramanujacharya, Krishna, Narsimha, Anjaneya, Ramchandra.

Gravity Pillar

This unique 42 feet high pillar carved out of a single rock and stands on its own weight. The paved compound of the temple complex has a pavilion near the bathing tank. Sculptures of Vishnuvardhan and Krishnaraja Wodeyar can be seen here. Other statues of note are Garudagambha and Garuda, the celestial vehicle of Lord Vishnu.


Halebid, the ancient acpital of Hoysala’s was founded in the early 11th century and was known as Dwarasamudra, after a huge artificial lake of the same name, dating back to the 19th century. The flourishing capital city had a small fortress with a magnificent palace. It was fortified with the lake of Enormous boulders and a moat that was connected with the lake. Halebid attained glorious height during the reign of Ballala – II. the grandson of Vishnuvardhan. The Hoysala Empire extended from river Kaveri in the west to Krishna in the east and was enriched by the fertile deltas of the rivers.  It’s prosperity attracted the forces of Delhi Sultanate, who invaded and annexed the town in 1311. Malik Kafur, is said to have taken away camel-loads of jewellery, gold and silver from here. In 1326, it was again attacked by Mohammad bin Tughlak.

After repeated attacks and the killing of king Ballala II, in the battle against the Sultan of Madura in 1342, the Hoysala were forced to relinquish their beautiful capital. The town was then nostalgically referred to as ‘Halebeid’ or old capital. It was never reoccupied again and the Hoysalas shifted capital to Belur. The Hoysala built over 150 exquisite temples in southern Karnataka, but the temples here are considered to be the most outstanding. The most important temple is Hoysalesvara and Kedareshvara, which are considered to be masterpieces of traditional Indian art forms. The figure carving at these temples are larger than any other temples nearby.


The Brihadisvara Temple – Thanjavur

Now, this is one of the most amazing temples I’ve ever visited here… Not just because of it’s rustic look, but also cause it’s a refreshing change from more or less similar temples I’ve visited earlier… So after Trichy was done with, I decided to take a bus to Thanjavur, about 60 Kms from Trichy… it took me about 2 hours… to reach the temple…


There are two bus stands in Thanjavur… The NEW bus stand and the OLD Bus stand. The Brihadisavara temple is near the Old bus stand. So, you take a bus to Periyacoel (Don’t know how it’s spelt but pronounced as Peh-ree-yaa-coyel) Once you get near the old bus stand, you gotta get off and there you are…




Brihadisavara Temple

A view from the street - Brihadisvara temple

A little information about this really amazing temple, this I found inside the temple… and without wasting any time, took a snap of it so that I could post it for you guys…

Brihadisvara Temple: The ambitious Brihadisvara temple by Rajaraja – I was begun in 1003 and completed in 1010 CE. It was dedicated to Siva represented by a linga (3.66m High) and named Rajarajesvaramyudar after the king himself. The complex has  the main temple with five subshrines for Chandikeshvara, Amman, Subramanaya, Ganesa and Karuvur Deva…

Thanjavur & the Cholas: Too much to type, just click on the image and it will be enlarged… Viola you’ll get all the info you need 😛

Too much to type...:P

Too much to type...:P

Wall Paintings near Lingas

Wall Paintings near Lingas







These are a few paintings inside the Lingas… Did not take photos of the Lingas though… I have my reasons.. these paintings however tell a lot of stories and there are series of them…



That's Krishna

That's Krishna










We all know this story of how Krishna killed one of Kansa’s asura’s who tried to poison him with her breast milk… Don’t we??



Chandakasvara Subshrine

Chandikesvara Subshrine


A distant view of the subshrine

A distant view of the subshrine





Was just lurking around, when I quickly got this angle.. really enchanting 🙂



Lord Ganesha himself, inside the temple

Lord Ganesha himself, inside the temple


Temple @ Sunset

Temple @ Sunset


Waited quite a while to get this snap.. Cloudy as it was, always struggling to get something like this… Besides, the aura of the whole temple, just didn’t make me feel like I should leave the place… Was really beautiful and enchanting…