I really don’t have any idea on what to expect when I decided to visit Halebeedu and Belur – two of the three precious hidden archaeological gems (the other being Shravanabelagola) of Karnataka – India. Once I reached the bus station in Hassan; the nearest town to Halebeedu, the writings on the boards looks like Jalebi(an Indian sweet). The boards were all in Kannada- the local language.
But the shock was over when I realized the people were sweeter than the Jalebi itself. Most of them don’t understand Hindi or English. But a few students in the bus station not only make sure to get me on the right bus to Halebeedu but also that I got a comfortable place to rest on the bus. I reached Halebeedu very late in the evening. So I decided to postpone my curiosity for one more night. Recommended reading: https://tearingshoes.com/gokarna-beach-trek/
What makes Halebeedu one of the precious gems in Karnataka?
The present Halebeedu (Halebid or Halebidu) is a small temple town in Hassan district of Karnataka. But back in the 12th century AD Halebeedu (then Kown as Dwarasamudra) was the regal capital of Mighty Hoysala Empire. Read more on Hoysala empire here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoysala_Empire That made Halebeedu home to some of the greatest and finest examples of Hoysala Architecture. The temples here are famous for their artistry and detailing for sculptures around them. Every place has its own magic. And when it came to Halebeedu and Belur; they will definitely make you a strong believer in the power of imagination.
I wake up early in the morning and went out to see the archaeological wonders which made Belur and Halebeedu the precious hidden gems of Karnataka. Recommended reading:
Hoysaleswara Temple( Halebidu Temple or Halebeedu Temple)
Hoysaleswara Temple derived its name from Hoysala King Vishnu Vardhana Hoysaleswara (Hindu name of King Bittiga(1108 – 52A.D). This marvel of Hoysala Architecture is the most important monument which makes Helebeedu one of the precious gems of Indian Archeological history. ( The word ‘Hoysala’ means”strike Sala.) Built-in 1121 A.D- This temple has two Shrines- one dedicated to Hoysaleswara and another for Shantaleshwara (Shantala Devi – the queen of Vishnuvardhana). This Temple is standing on a star-shaped platform and is made of soapstone.
Thousands of intricately carved sculptures depicting scenes from the epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, puranic legends, beasts and beauties etc.adorn the temple walls. In my opinion, It is always better to visit the temple early in the morning. That will help you to enjoy the beauty and peace of the atmosphere. I choose to enjoy the beauty of this wonders first and then come back again to take the pictures. And I can tell you with confidence that- yes it wort the effort.
The Temple is just 500 meters away from the Halebid bus station. You can choose any time between 6 AM to 6 PM to visit the place. There is no entrance fee for visitors not only here, but nowhere in Halebeedu.
The Nandi bull statue
At the Hoysaleswara Temple compound, there are two Nandi mandapas. Those mandapas are hosting two of the most beautiful and large statues of Nandi the bull. Nandi is the celestial vehicle of Lord Shiva. The detailing of the work is what makes these statues very special and beautiful.
Archaeological Museum Halebeedu
This museum is the third reason which makes Halebeedu a gem of archaeology. The artefacts sculptures here will provide a very clear idea on the lifestyles, ideologies and belief systems of the people lived here during the 12th and 13th century. The museum is established in the 1970s. It has more than 1500 sculptures and inscriptions recovered from in and around Halebeedu.
The beautiful collection will help an observer to have a deep understanding of how open this ancestorial society over their understanding of God, sex or even when it comes to women.
The museum is located in the Hoysaleswara temple complex. You can enter the museum on any day except Fridays (holiday) after paying a Minimum fee of 10 rupees.
The Jai Mandirs or Basdi Halli is situated between Hoysaleswara temple and the Kadesreshwara Temple at Halibidu; just 1 KM away from the bus station. There are three temples at Basadi Halli. The temples are dedicated to three JainTirthankaras – Parashwantha Swami, Adinatha(Rishabhanatha) Swami and Shantinatha Swami. The temple dedicated to lord Parashwantha swami is the most important temple. There are 12 pillars in the navaranga are so nicely polished that they resemble a mirror.
Jainism is a way of life based on the teachings of twenty-four Tirthankaras. Lord Mahavira was believed to the last and most prominent one among them. Read more on Jainism here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism
Kedareshwara Temple (Kedareswara) Halebeedu
The Majestic shrine was built by Veerballala(second) and his younger queen Abhinava Ketala Devi in 1319. The temple is built in star-shaped high platform. The lower part of the walls designed similar to the Hoysaleswara Temple. The upper part of the wall has about 180 images of various gods and goddess set under ornate arches.
Chenna Keshava Temple Belur
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vijayanarayan, one of the twenty-four incarnations of Lord Vishnu. This temple is built by King Vishnuvardhana to celebrate their victory over the Cholas in the great battle of Talakkad. The construction of the temple commenced in 116 A.D. According to historical records, it took about 103 years to complete the construction. It’s King Vishnuvardhana’s grandson who completed the construction. Chenna Keshava Temple is famous for the sculptures of 42 Madanikas or the celestial Nymphs located in different corners of the temple.
Gravity Pillar Belur
Gravity pillar is located inside the Chenna Keshava temple complex in Belur. The unique 42 feet high pillar is carved out of a single rock. It stands on a stone platform held there by gravity. That’s what makes the gravity pillar a wonder even for modern engineering. The pillar is said to be standing tall their from the time of King Devaraaya in 1414.
The 42 mdanikas is said to be inspired by Shantald Devi – the queen of Vishnuvardhana. They are carved out of soapstones and are standing in various posturers of Bharathnaytam. four out of these 42 Madanikas are placed inside the temple’s ornate ceiling. They are- the Darpana Sundri. (the beauty with mirror), the lady with a parrot, the huntress and the Bhasma Mohini.
Rest of the 38 Madanikas are decoring the outer walls of the temple. These sculptures are craved with clinical precision. That does not only make them one of a kind But also explains why it take three generations and 103 years to complete the Chenna Keshava temple.
How to reach Halebeedu?
Halebeedu is a small village located near Hassan. From Hassan, you can take a bus or taxi to reach Halebeedu. KSTDC Hotel Mayura Shantala is located, 300 meters right to the Halebeedu. There are a few budget hotels and lodges in Halebeedu. Or you can choose to stay in Hassan. Belur, which can be reached in half an hour also got many budget stays and hotels
Mangalore is the nearest airport to Halebeedu (168 K.M). Hassan is the nearest railway station to Halebeedu (27 K.M). Hassan is also accessible from Bangalore There are many trains running between Hassan and Yesvantpur, Bangalore. Happy Journey.