Basic question-Why would I want to write about Belur and Halebid group of temples?But people do write about Taj Mahal, right? In these wide world of ours, there are people who have not seen the Taj. Hence to those who have not yet seen the wonders of Belur and Halebid, here is to you.
Just imagine, you have an extended weekend and don’t know what to do with it? (God help you if ever such a lightning strikes you!). And you don’t want to go to that water sports facility again and definitely not to that mall where you end up buying such inane stuff which you wouldn’t want even in your next lifetime. Actually when you reach home and take a look at the stuff, you generally will cringe and swear you were hypnotised as you stepped away from the metal detector. Not my fault, you will say.
It is time to make your fingertips reach out to the good old Atlas Map. Flip to the list of places and find Belur and trace the latitude and longitude on the map and that’s it. If you are using Google Maps, so be it! As Robert Ludlum will put it.
Belur and Halebidu constitutes twin towns where you can witness the best of Hoysala architecture. Even the origins of “Hoysala” has a very intriguing ring to it. We will come to that later. If you have visited Karnataka’s sylvan beaches and its hidden historical gems ( one can be read here banavasi) and not yet been to Belur and Halebidu, you have just committed a grave mistake, my friend. So what I will do is to post some pictures, which will hopefully help you ignite your travel appetite.
The work on Belur temple of Chennakesava was started by 1115-18 AD by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana’s wife Queen Shantala. Once you go around the temple, you will quickly realise that a temple of such ornate architecture would not have been finished in a jiffy. It took a century and more to complete the entire temple complex. As you step inside the complex, the imposing tower will dwarf you.
Any idea why there are curvatures on the top of the Gopuram? Also at the base of the pillar, you will notice Garuda idol. You will have to squint you eyes a little bit here. Any idea of its relevance? Readers can post in their thoughts in the comment section.
A story which was narrated by a guide in Belur was that, a lion attacked a teacher and his pupils at their school. All the pupils ran away in fear save for one boy who went by the name ‘Sala”. The teacher screamed “Hoy Sala” which means “kill Sala!”The boy drove a dagger through the lion’s head and saved his teacher. Thus the dynasty Hoysala came into existence. Though the story has all the trappings of folklore in it, we all nodded! Now that you know how Hoysala dynasty came into existence, have a look at their logo!
After you are done admiring the pic, please drag your eyes to the extreme right corner to the Gatekeeper, “Dwarpal”.
When walk slowly around the temple, there is profusion of art which will sometimes overwhelm you. We can never get into the minds of the creators. The ideas and the stories which are woven in stone has gone away with them
This particular Nandi has been designated by the Archaeological Survey of India to be one of the three most beautiful Nandi sculptures seen in India in terms of the exquisite carvings on them. Now on to my favourites.
The Bearded Brahma
The most devastating image of Narasimha-Note the intestines of Hiranyakashipu is worn as a garland
Ananthashyanam of Vishnu
Nothing is left untouched by beauty – even the window grill
Notice the high cheek bones and eyes
Gajasurasamhara – Note the sharpness of the sword. That too in stone!
Elephants, lions, horses border the walls all around the temple
A miniaturised verandah
Belur and Halebid group of temples lie 25 km to the south of Chikamgalur. You will require at least half a day to do justice!
Hope you enjoyed the photo feature!