A short 16 kms pleasant drive from Belur, and we were in Halebidu, another fine monument showcasing the height of artistic architecture achieved during the reign of Hoysalas. The rain had stopped, the weather was pleasant – ideal for such an excursion.
The Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The construction of this temple started in 1121 and, like the Chenna Kesava temple at Belur, its completion took almost a century. Eighty-six years to be precise. This temple too has innumerable intricately carved statues and statuettes of gods, goddesses, apsaras etc. in different poses. Once again, stories from ancient epics are depicted engraved in stone. What intrigued me most is the depiction of an angry Asura king Ravana lifting Mount Kailash complete with its dense forest and vegetation, animals and the god of destruction, Lord Siva. All because Lord Shiva did not appear even after 100 years of penance by Ravana.
The chakra vyuha, a circular defence formation to trap anyone who dares to enter it, from Mahabharata is also engraved in stone. A teenage Abhimanyu, son of the Pandava Arjuna, so dared. He almost succeeded in beaching the vyuha but was set upon by great warriors like Dronacharya, Kripa, Karna and others and was killed fighting all of them together all by himself.
I am not a photographer. I hope the photographs reproduced here give some idea of the splendour of Halebidu.
Another short drive of 12 kms brought us to Belavadi, the last destination on our itinerary before our return to Bangalore. Belavadi is well known for the Veeranarayana temple built in 1206 by the Hoysala king Veera Ballala II and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The sculpture here is not as intricate as at Belur or Halebidu but the temple is beautifully laid out with three shrines. Each shrine houses an idol of Veernarayana, Venugopala, and Yoganarasimha, all different forms of Lord Vishnu.
This concluded our three day excursion in Hoysala country and we drove back home reaching Bangalore late in the night.