Imagine being transported back in time to witness the grandeur and magnificence of temple architecture in the region of Karnataka, India. This is the essence of the Hoysala Art Temples in Belur.
Let us explore a few examples of Hoysala architecture in the region of Belur.
4 Magnificent Hoysala Art Temples In Belur
Earlier Halebidu was known as Dwara Samudra. This was changed to Halebidu, during the reign of Vijayanagara. This place was affected two times, by the attack of Delhi Sultanate. Muhammad-bin-tughlak attacked and Hoysala emperor Ballala II was killed by Mallikafar. It’s quite natural that empire was lost when the capital itself was ruined. This temple seems to be a unity of several school of thoughts. Though the temple is dedicated to Shiva, many Jain statures and Vishnu statues also can be seen.
This twin temple housing two shivalingas namely Shantaleswara and Hoysaleswara, represents Shiva and Shakti. Each has a separate Nandi in front of them. Once this temple had a tall tower and were destroyed. On the outerwall of the temple, great epics like Ramayana, Mahabharat and Bhagavat are vividly depicted. It is estimated that Hoysala must have built more than 1500 temples during their reign from 1000CE to 1300CE. Most of Hoysala temples have a support of inscriptions, whereas, this considerably big twin temple doesn’t have one. However it is established by an inscription near Ghattadahalli, a village 5 kms away, that Ketamalla, an officer under Vishuvardhana, has built temple.
It is also know that this temple got renovated, repaired from time to time. This happens to be a big temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. There were many small shrines in the vicinity, and now many of them got destroyed. Sanctum is joined by a common Navaranga is joined in east west direction.
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The 15 feet wide platform is so well designed to have circumambulation with an idea of viewing the statues conveniently. Shukanasi towers were there and now they are totally destroyed. Tons of soapstone has been used, which has tendency of getting hard after chiselling. There is a saying that, Belur is to be viewed internally and Halebid vice-versa. It is true, when one sees the sculptures of the outer wall of Halebidu.
A wonderful net of art has been laid in this temple. Decorated elephants, horses, lions, crocodile runs in several meters with no similarity between any two. On the frieze around 340 large size statues are decorated. These are the ever biggest showcase of sculpture in a round, is the opinion of art historians. This temple has four entrances. Earlier Navarang wasn’t divided as it is looking now. During the period of Narasimha I, this Mantap was separated by perforated stone walls along with fixing of four doors and door guardians All these dwarapalas are standing in 3 pose, with three eyes, holding Trident, Damaru and Khatwang. Their hands are broken.
Ganesha seen on the outskirt of temple had shrines. Inner temple roof is supported by beautifully lathe turned pillars with holes to support Madanika statues. Four pillars in Navaranga has exclusively carved pillars. Totally there were 32 Madanika statures, out of which only 11 are existing now. Even in this also, two are in damaged condition. Famous art critic James Ferguson opines that, this temple being constructed by human force, is in exclusive with respect to Gothic art of the east. Percy Brown compares with art of Athens and Parthenon and has brought out many interesting facts.
Temple of Parthenon is in uniform in pillars design, where as Halebeedu temple has pillars with varied designs. Ceiling is also not uniform. Human sentiments have found a place in the ceiling pictures of Halebidu temple. Two Shivalinga in each temple are looking similar in size and shape. Guards at the entrance below shukanasi are attractive, with a design of full pot symbols at centre. In the museum at Hoysaleswara temple, many artifacts, broken statues are placed. An alter post broken is also seen.
This indicates the sacrifice of Lenka Lakshmana and his wife, who laid their life by shearing their heads, after the death of Ballala II. At the bottom of some of the statues, signatures of artists, sculptures can be seen. Some signs of Manibalaki, Maabala, Ballana, Bochana, Kethana, Revoja are found repeated.
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Amongst many Basadi’s at Halebeedu, Shanthinatheswara Basadi is bit, well maintained. It contains large statues of Jain saint Shanthinatha. It is an evidence to establish religious harmony existed during the reigns of Hoysalas. Sculptures have paid the same attention and devotion in carving these Basadi statues. A large inscription is placed at the front of Basadi.
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There used to be tradition of building temples as a souvenir, whenever kings had won war against neighbour kings. It is said that, as a memory of winning war against Cholas, Vishuvardhana erected this Beluru temple complex. This happens to be one, while other temples are located at Melukote, Thonnuru, Gadag.
Inscriptions dates Beluru temple as built on 20th March 1117. Beluru temple has a stellate of 32 angled star shaped platform. On the frieze, a series of different panels depicting ornate designs and Ramayana, Mahabharata stories. 42 Madanika statues on the outer and inner wall are the main attraction of this temple. Mohini placed at the centre of the hall, happens to be a challenge to sculptors. Lamp post erected outside the temple is a miraculous structure, which stands on four points. One can insert paper or cloth below this pillar, to appreciate the skill of sculptors and their imagination.
On the side of the Ranganayaki temple, there is a long line of porch, where many excavated statues are preserved. Statues of Lord Ganesha, Vishnu, Hanuman and Naga stones are found along with many inscription stones.History of this temple is available on these inscriptions. A big water storage tank is also seen on the side of Ranganayaki temple.
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