skip to Main Content

Some of you must have seen the National award-winning Sankarabaranam, Telugu movie some time on the National network.  This movie has a classic dance based song, which has the actress dancing in front of a magnificent temple.  You must have noted the beauty and symmetric architecture of this temple even while catching the dance steps of the Heroine of the movie.  This is the Hoysaleswara temple built in 12 century and dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Hoysaleswara temple

Hoysaleswara temple photoPhoto by Sissssou

How to reach?

It was easy for me as a school student to remember where this temple was.  I used to mug up “Hoysaleswara Temple situated at Halebid”!

This Hoysaleswara temple is very near Belur, Mysore and Hassan, cities of Karnataka, India and famous for his architecture.  There are regular buses which ply to and fro and can be hired at any time of the day.

History of this Architectural wonder

Hoysaleswara temple has been called the “Supreme climax of Indian architecture” by Percy Brown, a British Scholar and archaeologist.

The temple was built by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhan in the 12th Century.  It took more than 30 years to build.  Yet, the carvings remained uncompleted due to invasion and ransacking by Muslim invaders who took away most of the temple’s wealth.  Hence the temple lies in ruins at many points now.


The Hoysaleswara temple was carved out of soapstone.  It stands on a platform called jagati, that is shaped like a star.  The highlight of the Hoysaleswara temple is its exquisite architecture on the outside walls. There are two temples in the same complex that contains idols of presiding deities Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara. There is a 7m foot tall Lord Surya also among other shrines in the temple.  There is a massive Nandi(the Gate guardian of Shiva) outside the temple.

See Also -   The Flavors Of Traditional Karnataka Snacks

Hoysaleswara temple photoPhoto by ashwin kumar

The entrance of the Hoysaleswara temple has two  Dwarapalakas or the Gatekeepers bedecked in amazing and heavy sculpted jewellery.  One can count up to 340 big reliefs retell old tales of Hindu mythology in Hoysaleswara temple.  Some small reliefs reflect tales from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Dasavatars – or ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, stories of Shaivism, stories of Sakthism and also some Jain tales too.   Check if you can read North and South Indian age-old scripts detailing the history of the temple on the walls.

War scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are beautifully depicted in stone.  Noteworthy are – the Rama’s slaying of Vali, the Abhimanyu Chakravyuham scene and the Karna and Arjuna fight scene.

While the big reliefs are on the upper part of the wall, the lower part has eight horizontal friezes rows representing a virtue.  The length of these rows is approximately 200 meters.  The last row has elephants that denote strength.  The next row has lions that reflect courage.  The row next has flowers.  The fourth and fifth rows show horses and flowers.  Horses denote speed.  The final rows have Makara, a mystical beast and Hansa, the swan.

Every space is used for sculpting an image.  The outer Southern Gate has a dancing Ganesh on the left-hand side.  This starts a series of sculptures which again ends in the Northern side entrance with Lord Ganesha’s image.  The beams of the entrances have more intricate designs than the rest of the temple.

There is a Garuda Stambha or pillar built in honour of the bodyguards of erstwhile Hoysala kings.  There is more……  A guide can help you find many the legends behind them.  Request your guide to take you through all the images.

See Also -   The Most Eminent Temples Of North India

Travel tips that will come handy……

  • Take a Government approved guide if you want to know the intricacies of the temple architecture. Guides follow a routine.  Request them to go help you to explore more than the regular route.
  • Since there are no special hotels nearby, it is better to have breakfast/lunch before arriving at Hoysaleswara temple.
  • Plan your trip to include another wonder of Hoysala architectural – Chennakesava temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which is just 12 kms away.
  • Also allow a time limit of at least 2 hours to view the temple
  • If you brush up your Indian mythology tales, you have a more interesting/intriguing trip here as you can enjoy spotting many anecdotes from these tales.
  • You cannot wear slippers inside the temple. Sometimes the hot weather can make this awkward.  Plan accordingly.

Featured Photo by Sen (Sankarshan)

Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebid Karnataka – Mythology In Stone

Pin It on Pinterest

×Close search