Temple of the Month - June 2000
Halebidu the ancient Hoysala capital
houses the ornate Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara temples, and is one of the well visited
tourist attractions of Karnataka. Halebidu is located at a distance of 149 km from Mysore
and 31 km from Hassan. The Karnataka State Tourism Bureau offers a rather hectic tour
package (from Mysore) covering Sravanabelagola, Halebidu and Belur in one day.
The Hoysaleswara temple dates back to
the 12th century CE. It was built by Ketamalla a minister of Vishnuvardhana
the Hoysala ruler who also built the Belur temple and the
Mahabaleshwar temple at Chamundi Hills near Mysore.
Halebidu was sacked by the armies of Malik Kafur in early fourteenth century, after which
it fell into a state of disrepair and neglect.
The Hoysaleswara temple enshrines Hoysaleswara
and Santaleswara. Hoysaleswara is named after the builder Vishnuvardhana
Hoysala and Santaleswara after his wife, Queen Santala. The sancta are built on a
stellar plan, with a sukhanasi, navaranga and Nandi Mandapa. Each of these (temples)
resembles the Belur Chennakesava temple in plan.
The Hoysaleswara temple is a masterpiece, studded with
a profusion of carvings. Thousands of figures appear on its walls. The basement of the
temple has the most richly sculptured friezes. Horsemen charge, war elephants charge, all
in stone. Scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata add to the grandeur.
Art historian James Fergusson
writes of Halebidu thus The Hoysaleswara temple may be probably considered as
one of the most marvellous exhibitions of human labor to be found even the patient east.
The mode in which the eastern face is broken up by the larger masses, so as to give height
and play of light and shade, is a better way of accomplishing what the Gothc artists
attempted by their projections. This however is surpassed by the western front, where the
variety of outline and arrangement and subordination of the various facets in which it is
disposed, must be considered as a masterpiece of design in its class.
If the friezes were to be spread olong a plain
surface, it would lose more than half its effect, while the vertical angles, without
interfering with the continuity of the frieze give height and strength to the whole
composition. The disposition of the horizontal lines of the lower friezes is equally
effective. Here again, the artistic combination of horizongal and vertical lines and the
play of outline and of light and shate far surpass anything in gothic art.
There are pierced windows on the walls, about a meter
high each, with divinities set on pedestals with canopies above. The south door is
The Kedareswara temple built by King
Ballala II, at Halebidu now in ruins is considered to be a a gem of architecture. As with
the Hoysaleswara temple, this temple has classic friezes, and scenes from the epics.
There are a hundred and eighty images set under floral toranas in the upper parts of the
walls. Also nearby, are Jain temples dedicated to Parsvanatha, Santhanatha