Halebidu temple : unsolved mystery
Updated: Apr 18
Generally people associate visiting temple with family rituals or a religious pilgrimage. Usually it's correct. Have you ever thought you are visiting an art museum ? We never think that we are visiting a place that is a masterpiece and has significance in the art world. Because we are never taught in that way. This time we decided to visit Halebidu Hoyasaleswara temple. The treasure for the whole world and zenith in the temple architecture. A site where sculptures more than 900 years old are gloriously adorned inside and outside of the temple complex.
We heard about Belur and Halebidu as beautiful Hoyasala period temples. Out of curiosity we went there and later on we visited them few more times before the lockdown. Living in Namma Benagaluru is a treat for a traveller. While living in this bustling IT city you are surrounded by biodiversity hotspot like Sahyadri ( Western Ghats) mountain range; states like Tamilnadu, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. You have overlaid of forests, ancient monuments, classical music, authentic idli dosa with coffee and what not!
Leaving aside that let's talk about the temple. This particular temple of Halebidu is on the foothills of Sahyadri close to Chikmanglur town which is known for coffee plantations. It is close to Belur which is another milestone in Hoysala temple architecture. These temples are like twins in their style.
The best part is ASI has kept it clean and people friendly. Until you enter it looks like just any other temple. But with every step the drama unfolds and the WOW factor increases. The mystery becomes more evident. How it is possible to sculpt with such precision ? Each sculpture looks marvellous than the other one.
Beautiful statues of deities, dancers, everyday people are carved on temple in their most exquisite forms. The celebration of life and death is in the full force. The intricate carving and smooth stones looks surreal. The question keep on coming how they would have carved it and smoothened these huge pillars ? It glows and shines. Compared to the white marbles these rocks are really hard. Yet it managed to retain it's glow like a polished iron. The stone that used is know as soapstone. The hardness yet the soft feature to carve and the metallic shine and hardness to survive.
The temple is built on a platform that resembles like a star shape. It's a particular Dravidian style that you can find in Belur, Sringeri, Somnathpura and many more temples.
Whether we believe in Dharma or not is a personal choice. But understanding of aesthetics and a heritage for next generation and the whole world is very important. Unfortunately armies of Alauddin Khilji and Mohamed Bin Tughlaq plundered Belur and Halebidu both. The biggest issue is not the invaders but the ignorance and people who are unable to resist. Armies / kings have political motives and that's natural. But burning libraries, destroying places of worship completely uproot the possibility of a civilised society in future. Any society is considered a civilisation where the material progress happens along with art and literature.
Fortunately these temples somehow managed to remain at least in some part. And yet we are amazed by the remaining artwork. In today's age it is protected by the government. What one need is respecting the boundaries and not ruining it further.
These temples are zenith in the Bharatiya architecture. Fully decorated human forms and superhuman forms like deities are adorned in their grandeur shows us the imagination of our ancestors. And it's also a proof that we had multiple schools for architecture and sculptures who create lasting legacy through their work which is standing tall even after massive destruction. And now inspiring the whole humanity.
You can observe the ornaments, weapons and lyrical design that gives a flow to the sculptures. Enticing dancing beauties in one side and the shiva-ganas and the powerful look of the deity on another side terrifies the viewer. The elevated footwear and hollowness in the sculptures hints us that there might be advanced machines to achieve it with precision.
The erstwhile city was known as Dwarsamudram a capital city of Hoysalas. But it fell to invaders and lost the glory forever. Now it is known as Halebidu ( city of ruins ). The closest big town today is Hassan which is around 30kms. What is left now shows glimpse of the same through this temple.
One day is not enough to drink the beauty of these sculptures and also coffee of Chikmanglur! Best way is extend your stay visit nearby places. If you have any question about the stay then don't worry.
There are multiple homestay tucked away into the coffee estates and forest. You can also find five start resorts as well. The climate is balmy throughout the year. Roads are superb and people very friendly.
What we truly love of Namma Karnataka is people who love their culture. We never faced any issue even late night driving into the dense forest. Sahyadri gives them so much that people automatically becomes giving and caring. Make your plans with your friends or family when things will open up.
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Those who wish to dive deep here are the reference articles.
This will be one of the best ride from the foothills to the top of the Sahyadri mountain ranges . You will be witnessing coffee plantations, tea plantations , ancient temples, dense forest, gurgling streams , rivers and waterfalls. Don't forget to get your coffee beans from the plantations !
Bengaluru to Halebidu : 210 kms
Halebidu - Hornadu - Sringeri : 155 Kms.