- Halebid- A Wonder in Stone
Halebid is often called the ruined city. This is true in a way, as the
best parts of the city today are its ancient temples, which go back to
centuries. The Hoysala temples with their magnificent carvings and
sculptures, display not only Hindu architecture but also a whole
culture. Halebid is also an agricultural paradise - you can find fields
of sugarcane and paddy spread across thousands of acres here. The town
lies on the banks of an artificial lake called Dwarasamudra.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Halebid was virtually the hub of activity, being the capital of the Hoysala Empire. King Veeraballa II is said to have extended the empire from the Cauvery River to Krishna during his reign. Veeraballa and King Vishnuvardhana were the rulers behind the building of the temples that the town today boasts of. The city gradually lost its glory following the death of King Ballala. During the 14th century, the city was invaded and looted by a succession of rulers like Malli Kafur and Mohammed Bin-Tuglak.
The temples here have been built according to the specifications of the
Sastras and Indian Vastushilpa. The material used for building them is
steatite, which is initially soft but hardens in the course of time.
Halebid is therefore visited frequently by scholars and archeologists
from far and wide. Another interesting fact is that the carvings and
outwork of these temples are so intricate that the work went on for
decades. If you take a closer look, you might discover that some were
never fully completed.
The two major temples here - the Hoysaleswara temple and the Kedareshwara temple are situated in a single temple complex. The Hoysaleswara temple is nothing less than a wonder in stone. Every single inch of the outside walls of the temple is covered with intricate carvings of Hindu Gods, deities, animals, birds and images depicting the social life of the age. Interestingly, no two sculptures are exactly alike. You can find the signature of the artisans too here. The revolving Narasimha pillar still has a blank spot, which has been left there by artisans for any talented person to exhibit his work.
Everything here is king size, from the huge star shaped plinth to the pillared sanctuaries inside. The pavilions facing the sanctuaries have a Nandi bull each inside, made of polished stone. The inside of the temples, with the sunlight streaming from the perforated eastern walls is simply ethereal.
The Kedareshwara temple as well as the Jain basadis nearby the complex also exhibit brilliant workmanship. The twelve pillars inside the Parshwanatha temple have been polished so well that they can easily serve as mirrors. The idol of the Parshwanatha is made of black stone and is full 14 feet high. A carved figure of a seven headed serpent can be found on the head of the figure.
- Best Time To Visit
October to February.
- How to Reach
Mangalore airport is the nearest airport (148 km).
Banavar is the nearest railway station. Trains run to Bangalore from here.
Good roads connect it to Hassan (31 km) Banavar (24 km).