Monday, February 4, 2008

:: Belur and Helebid ::

These two names Belur and Halebedu with Somnathpur, are just synonyms to the excellent hoysala architecture. With a bunch of friends, visited the first 2 towns in Hassan District and wanting to visit Somnathpur as soon as possible. We hired guides in both these towns and these towns are not just towns.. The temples are not just temples. You must visit these places at least once in the lifetime to understand the craftsmanship.

Now Straight to Belur...
Belur was the early capital of the Hoysala Empire, with the main attraction in Belur being the Chennakesava temple complex which contains the Chennakesava Temple (dedicated to Lord Chennakeshava , meaning handsome Vishnu) as the centre piece, surrounded by the Kappe Chennigraya temple built by Shantaladevi, queen of king Vishnuvardhana. The temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture, built by king Vishnuvardhana in commemoration of his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117. Yet another explanation pertains to Vishnuvardhana's conversion from Jainism to Vaishnavism, considering this is predominantly a Vaishnava temple.

It was said, that it took 103 years to complete and Vishnuvardhana's grandson Veera Ballala II completed the task. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. The intricate workmanship includes elephants(depicting strength), lions(depicting courage), horses(depicting speed), episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and sensuous dancers (Shilabalikas). Inside the temple are a number of ornate pillars. Darpana Sundari (Lady with the mirror) carved on walls of Belur Temple is one of major attraction in complex. There are in total (around) 16000 status small and big in this complex. The temple is complete with a royagopuram constructed later by Vijayanagar kings in the dravidian style.

Few of my frames from Belur here....
insideout (by peevee@ds)

pooja time


Then to Halebidu....
Halebidu (Means Ruined city) is just 16 km away from Belur, was the 12th century capital of the Hoysalas. The Hoysaleswara temple was built during this time by built by Ketamala and attributed to Vishnuvardhana, the Hoysala ruler. It enshrines Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara, named after the temple builder Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and his wife, Queen Shantala. The Hoysaleswara temple, dating back to the 1121 is astounding for its wealth of sculptural details.

The temple complex comprises of two Hindu temples, the Hoysaleshawara and Kedareshwara temples and two Jain basadi. In front of these temples there is a big lake. The town gets its name the from the lake, Dhwara samudhra which means entrance from ocean. The two nandi bull statues which are on the side of the Hoysaleshwara temple are monolithic. soap stone or Chloritic Schist was used for the construction of these temples. However a number of sculptures in the temple are destructed by invaders. So the temple is incomplete. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of depictions from Hindu mythology, animals, birds and Shilabalikas or dancing figures and postures from kamasutra as well. Yet no two sculptures of the temple are the same. This magnificent temple guarded by two Nandi Bulls (the 7th and 8th largest monolithic nandi structures in the country. Largest Mahanandi is in Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh) was never completed, despite 86 years of labour.

Few frames from Halebidu...
wall of fame

sanctum sanctorum (by peevee@ds)

Our guide Mr.PuttuSwamy, finished his service saying "Belur is famous for its internal beauty" and "Halebidu for its external beauty". He also remembered to tell us that as many as 40 stone statues were taken away by Britishers before Indian Independence. It was not at all a surprise when he said Halebidu temple got more than 20000 statues, small and large inside the complex. Every single visitor including us, were so very happy, as we were allowed to shoot indide/outside/anyside in the temple complexes.

More pictures at....

~ peevee.

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