Whenever I see any great works of design and architecture from times gone by, I wonder why the modern world cannot emulate these? Is it lack of skills? Or did royal patronage and vanity allow public expenditures not justifiable to democratic set-ups of present times?
When I reached Halebidu, the intricate workmanship of its temples brought these thoughts back to me. Where are the folks who could do such beautiful work, painstakingly, sometimes taking generations to complete?
Halebidu became the capital of the Hoysala dynasty (10th – 14th century A.D.) during the reign of Vinayaditya, and inscriptions show it was called Dorasamudra and Dwaravathi.
Besides remains of other temples, palaces and basadis (Jain temples or shrines), the best preserved are the Hoysaleshwara temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Work on the Hoysaleshwara temples are believed to have started in 1121 under directions of Ketamalla during Vishnuvardhana’s rule and completed by Kedaroja, the chief architect of Vishnuvardhana’s son and successor Narasimha I, in 1160.
What you see are two identical temples built on a common platform but connected internally.
The temple complex also has an impressive museum in three parts; two of these are open air galleries. Exhibits include wall sculptures, friezes, lintel units, inscribed pedestals, miniature figurines, gold coins, copper plates and wood carvings besides other excavations from around the area.
Sculptures include different forms of Shiva (Natraja, Bhairava etc.) and Vishnu (Madhava, Keshava, Ugranarasimha, Krishna etc.) besides those of dancing Parvati, Saraswati, Ganesha, Skandha, Brahma and of many Yakshas, Yakshis and Jain Tirthankaras.
Funnily, while I walked around, boys in their late teens would come and stand with me while their friends clicked pictures on their mobiles. Should I have been worried lest my modesty be under danger? No, I think they just saw me as an alien who they liked to have a picture with.
Enjoy the place through the images below, and be sure to visit Halebidu soon. It is also spelled Halebeedu.
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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