Halebidu is another landmark in the temple architectural history of Karnataka. Located at the Hassan District of the state, the name of the city means the ‘Old City.’ This city was the capital of the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century and hence is a treasure of architectural marvels. The most important shrines of the city are the Hoysaleswara temple and the Kedareswara Temple; both these temples represent the Hoysala style of architecture.
Located at the banks of a lake, the Halebidu Temple complex is beautiful and holy with its serene atmosphere and lush greenery all around. The temple complex is maintained perfectly and hence is neat and clean even in the rainy season. The Halebidu Temples are safeguarded by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Hoysaleswara temple is a UNESCO world heritage site while the Kedareswara Temple has been proposed to be recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.
History and Legend of Halebidu
The Halebidu temples are witness to the glorious past of ancient India.
- The Hoysaleswara temple was constructed by the Ketamala, the chief architect of that time, around 1121 AD.
- The Hoysaleswara temple was dedicated to King Vishnuvardhana, the then ruler of Halebidu.
- The Hoysaleswara temple is dedicated to Hoysaleswara and Shantaleswara, named after King Vishnuvardhana Hoysala and Queen Shantala Devi.
- The Kedareswara Temple was constructed around 1173- 1200 AD.
- The Kedareswara Temple was constructed by King Veera Ballala II and Queen Ketaladevi.
- The Kedareswara Temple is dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva, Ishwara.
- The three Jain basadis located within the Halebidu temple complex were constructed at different times. While the Adinatha Swamy was constructed during the 1138 AD, the Shantinatha Swamy Temple was constructed at 1192 AD and the Parshvanatha basadi was constructed in 1133 AD.
- The Halebidu Temples were almost ruined by Muslim invasion; the city was invaded twice by Malik Kafur, during the 14th century
- Halebidu was originally known as Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra. It came to be known as Halebidu after it was looted by the Muslim rulers of Delhi, at 1311 and 1327 and the city was completely destroyed. The word Halebidu means a ruined city.
Significance of the Halebidu Temple
The Hoysaleswara Temple and the Kedareswara Temple are popular tourist destinations of Halebidu. These temples are known for the intricate carvings which portray the golden age of Hoysala rule. Every sculpture is different from the other; the granular details of the postures are amazing.
- The Temple complex consists of two Hindu temples, Hoysaleswara temple and the Kedareswara Temple and a Jain basadi, which has three temples within it.
- There is also an archaeological museum within the complex which helps you understand the importance of the sculptures and carvings of the shrines.
- This archaeological museum was built in 1970 and consists of almost 1500 sculptures and inscriptions that have been recovered from the nearby places.
- Besides an enclosed gallery, there is also an open air museum, which displays an 18 feet image of a Tirthankara, Lord Krishna and Shiva in Tandava posture, Nataraja, Goddess Saraswati and dancing Ganesha.
- These temples are constructed with soapstone.
- The walls of the Hoysaleswara temple are adorned with carvings of Hindu mythology, images of flora and fauna, dancers and shilabalikas.
- The temple is guarded by two monolith sculptures of Nandi the vahana of Lord Shiva, on each side.
- The Jain basadi of the temple complex also exhibit fine sculptures, depicting the rich traditions and believes of Jainism.
- One of the Jain basadi is known as the Parshvanatha basadi. This basadi consists of a large sculpture of Lord Parshvanatha, which is 18 feet in height and made of black stone. A seven headed serpent over the head of the idol is considered to be guarding the deity.
- The 12 pillars of the Parshvanatha basadi are exquisitely carved out of a rock.
- The Lakshmi Narayana idol of Hoysaleswara temple is famous due to its perfect carvings.
- The outer walls of the Hoysaleswara temple are adorned with sculptures of various deities of Hindu mythology.
- The entrance of the Hoysaleswara temple is also adorned with sculptures of decked up elephants in a battling mood. This sculpture represents the way of entertainment of ancient India, where elephant fights were common.
- The Kedareswara Temple represents the Trikutchala layout.
- The Kedareswara Temple also consists of a life size sculpture of Nandi.
- The Ganesha sculpture of the Kedareswara Temple is erected outside the Kedareswara temple, which seems to guard the temple of Lord Shiva.
- The relief of Lord Vishnu at the Kedareswara temple is in a standing posture, flanked with images of goddesses on both sides.
- The relief of Arjuna at the Kedareswara temple depicts excerpts from the great Indian epic, Mahabharata.
- The Kedareswara temple also exhibits different avatars of Lord Vishnu, like the Varaha and Bamana avatar.
Halebidu Temple Timings
- The Halebidu temple complex is open from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm. The best time to visit the temples is early morning.
- It is suggested to visit the temple complex early morning as the weather is hot. There are experienced guides available at the complex who takes you back in the golden era of Hoysala kingdom when the shrines were constructed.
- The Halebidu temple complex is open on all days of the week.
- The best time to visit the Halebidu Temples is from November to March.
Halebidu Temple Food Timings
The Halebidu temple complex is now open just for sightseeing and regular Hindu worship and rituals do not take place. Hence the custom of serving food is not present.
There is no particular dress code at the Halebidu temple complex, but it is advised that most of the body part is covered. Cotton clothes are preferred due to the hot weather. Shoes have to be kept out before entering the temple complex.
Festivals celebrated at the Temple
No specific festivals are celebrated at the Halebidu temple complex.
Poojas and Rituals
The Halebidu temple complex is a heritage site and poojas and rituals are not performed here.
How to reach: Road, Rail and Air
By Air: The nearest airport to the Halebidu Temple complex is the Mangalore airport. This airport lies at 185 km from the city of Halebidu. There are direct flights from Kozhikode, Mumbai and Bangalore to Mangalore. The international airport of Bangalore is another important airport near Halebidu. There are taxis and buses available outside the airport, which take the tourists directly to Halebidu temple complex.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Halebidu is the Hassan railway station, lying at 32 km from the city. You can avail direct trains from Birur, Shimoga, Mysore, Bangalore, Mangalore, Dharwad, Karwar and Hubli to Hassan. There are auto rickshaws, taxis and buses available from the railway station which take you to the Halebidu temple complex.
By Road: Halebidu is easily accessible by the road. It is directly connected with the capital city of the state, Bangalore, major cities of Mysore and Mangalore. Tourists can avail direct buses to Hassan district. Halebidu is located at 149 km from Mysore, 211 km from Bangalore, 34 km from Chikmagalur and 31 km from Hassan. Belur, another important tourist destination of Karnataka is near to Halebidu (just 15 km) and hence you can cover the distance in private taxis.
Regular buses ply from the important cities of Karnataka to Halebidu. There is a bus stoppage at the Halebidu temple complex. Taxis and auto rickshaws are the other local transport facilities available here.
Hotels: Where to stay
There are decent staying facilities available near the Halebidu temples. The Sumukha residency and Vishnu Regency are located at 15.4 km from the temple complex. Hoysala Village Resort, Stay Simple Riverdale, Hotel Mayura International are to name a few. These hotels provide both budget and premium accommodation to the tourists, along with basic amenities and food facilities.
Where to eat
Tourists can enjoy Indian, continental and Chinese cuisines at Halebidu. Some of the well known eat outs near the temple complex are the Club House at Planters Court, Hotel Gokul Veg, The Meridian and the Shantala.
Besides the Halebidu Temple complex, there are other temples which are worth a visit.
- Chennakesava Temple: Located at Belur, this temple was built during the Hoysala rule. Dedicated to Lord Chennakesava, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This temple is known for its fine sculptures and intricate carvings.
- Sri Veera Narayana Temple: Located at 12 km from Halebidu, this temple is another gem of Hoysala architecture. The temple is mythologically important as it is believed that Bheema, the second brother of the Pandava brothers of the Great Indian epic of Mahabharata defeated demon Bakasura. Built in the 13th century, this temple is dedicated to three incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
- Shravanabelagola: a popular Jain pilgrimage, this historical site is located at 50 km from the Hassan district. It is famous for the tallest monolithic statue, a Bahubali statue of 58 feet made of granite.
- Chamundeswari Temple: Located at Mysore, the Chamundeswari Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. With various sculptures and a glorious history, this is one of the most beautiful temples of the state.
- Ranganathaswamy Temple: Situated at the Srirangapatna Island, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Within the massive temple complex of Ranganathaswamy Temple, there are precious relics exhibiting Hoysala and Vijaynagara architectural style.
- The Mallikarjuna Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna and Goddess Parvati and is unique, being built by the Vijaynagara rulers using old materials.
Hence be at the Halebidu temple complex to witness the meticulous artwork that was created almost 900 years back. If tired, just rest your feet over the green grass, basking in the celestial atmosphere.