Tuesday, July 25, 2006


If you ever head to Karnataka make sure you don't miss the 3 Hoysala temples. People might tell you one intricate temple is the same as the other but actually all 3 are very different in overall style and landscape though all 3 have similar layers of sculptures, ascending according to rank.

IMG_2865belur Hosted on Zooomr

While Somnathpur is the smallest of the temples, it is the most intricate and the one that showcases the cone shaped shikaras (or gopurams/ towers). You will not find a repetitive sculpture anywhere on its walls. The temple is also enclosed by a walled mandap with only one temple in its centre housing 3 different deities.


Halebidu on the other hand is set across beautiful green lawns (I'm not sure if it was such then but given its proximity to the lake it could be) next to a lake. There are no walls surrounding the temples or nandi mandaps but you will be overwhelmed by its size. The main temple is quite huge with its long passageway. Still maintaining the dislike for squares, the temple is a massive structure flanked by its 2 nandi mandaps and adjoining surya temple.


Belur on the other hand is the only one of the temples with a huge Raja Gopuram similar to TN temples. Moving inside you find a huge temple complex with several temples dedicated to different deities and a tall flagstaff.


Of the 3 temples, this is the only one still conducting prayers. We arrived on the birthday of St Ramanujam, so once again we caught a procession. They were taking the temple idol and the saint around the outer courtyard to a nearby ashram I think.


As it was blazing hot we decided to stick around and explore the temple and wait for them to come back. Like all the other temples this too is a 2 tiered temple with small shrines doting the walkway area.


Now the main deity is Chennakeshava and we were told he represents Vishnus Mohini avatharam. Though male in features, the decor and attire is female (picked the info from a guide so it might be wrong). The temple is different from most Indian temples where photography is allowed inside the sanctum.


As you can see this is an image of the main idol and the uthsava murthy. I find the idol very beautiful, again intricate in details.


Contrary to the hot afternoon sun outside, the interiors of the temple was once again wonderfully cooling. After exploring the grounds, we had a wonderful time sitting on its cool floors basking in the coolness while waiting for the procession to return. Each pillar inside the temple was different in carvings, some more elaborate than the other.

Now one of the highlights of the temple is the ceiling dancers. Right at the centre of the temple, look up and you'll find 4 dancing maidens at each corner. Each sensuous dancer is supposed to be depicting a different pose and are said to be inspired by the famed dancing queen Shantala Devi. You see more of the dancers around the exteriors of the temple.

Outside on the steps you will find these beautiful lions and a warrior slaying it. I remember seeing them in all 3 temples but the one at Belur was the most magnificent, hence that's the highlight photo of this travelogue.


The story goes that 'hoy Sala', meaning 'strike Sala!', were the words called out to Sala, the legendary head of this dynasty, as he was involved in armed combat with a tiger. Hense the image became the royal emblem of the dynasty.


Right next to the main temple is the Nayaki temple. This one is made of a long hall of pillars before you reach the main sanctum. Here too you find a large deity. Being someone who favors Devis, I ended up sitting there for some time.


I would say take a guide at one of the hoysala temples if you're not into reading about the history, it helps to have someone pin point details.

IMG_2893belur1 Hosted on Zooomr

By now you're probably used to the carvings and will see repeat hence the less number of sculptures photographed. But the few that you see here and in zooomr are the ones I found particularly bewitching. The Narasimha at Belur being the more intricately carved one. It would be beautiful to photograph a dancer in this surroundings what with the different levels. Maybe one of these days.


One other thing is when you look up across the passegeways you will find intricately carved panels, more intricate then the other 2 temples.


I hear dawn is one of the best times to go there, so if you paln to head there choose which of the 2 temples at Belur and Halebid you'll want to see first. You'll also not end up getting baked in the heat of the afternoon sun. The procession finally came back and few minutes later the temple was closed for the afternoon. As we left it started drizzling - oh yes we had both extremes blazing son and sudden downpours

hoysala Hosted on Zooomr

So as you can see all 3 temples are different even though of the same style and nearly similar sculptures. Each sculpture is actually different if you look closely. At least once visit these places, they're hidden treasures left for us to bask in and marvel at such great artisans.


Harsha said...

What is the inference of the pic? Is the lion attacking the woman in the pic?

visithra said...

harsha : try reading paragraph 12 of this post - its a long post ;) there's info on the lion and how it represents the HOysala dynasty.

Jeevan said...

Take a guide to have someone pin point details, every one should do this to learn little about the place. The 5th snap has come in some movies, like Poova unakkaga and Ratchahan I think; the entrance is very big in the Belur temple know. Hai it’s nice that they have allowed u to took snap of the Idol. Nice post

yvy said...

wah woman, you really take the pains in explaining everything huh? 1000+ pix will certainly keep u entertained for awhile. look at mine, i lump them all together! lol :P i'm such a lazy pandi. but a cute one lar. lol :P

ps. LOVE the new header. :D

Balaji S Rajan said...

Photos are superb. Looks like you had a great time with your camera during your trip. Great photographs. Makes me to visit Karnataka next time.

My days(Gops) said...

nice,beautiful, super, nalla irruku, chance'ey illa....ippadi pala comment vutaachi unga photo/post'ku...
sonnadhai'ey thirumbi sonna? ungalukku bore aagidum..
ennamo 'for a sake'ku sollurenu ninaichiruveeenga...
so, enna solluradhu'nu kolambi last'la vandhadhuthaaan idhu

sokaa keedhu'mey ..

he he he

tilotamma said...

wow! Lucky yu...

Harsha said...

I dunno how I missed that. So its a tiger then. :)
Nice pics btw.

visithra said...

Jeevan : hey thanks for pinpointing it to me - now i remember - it comes in one of the ratchagan songs right - u have great memory

actually everyone could take photos - thanks ;)

yvy : one ofthe reasons is - after a while ill forget n i dont want to - so its nice to have it written somewhere

hehehe entertained ? More like gone mad i think ;p

but urs is nice too - i should lump them up too - but lazy to do that ;p

hehehe nah am the lazy one ;p but youre definetly cute ;p

ps : thanks ;)

Balaji s : thanks - yeah i did have a good time - u really should beautiful place

mydays : hehehe athuku ipdhi pohlamburingehla ? ;p but pohlambal nalla entertainment -

thanks ;)

ps chumma joke ;) this not hindi chumma !

Tilo : welcome here ;) thanks - yeah definetly lucky to see the place ;)

harsha : ah thats ok it happens ;)

yeah it would seem so n its a man - though me too thought a lion and a woman ;)

Thanks ;)

WA said...

Great pictures visit

visithra said...

uma thanks ;)

SamY said...

heyyyy I'v been to this place when I was a kid ... luks like u'v seen more of india that we have ... now I am J :)

visithra said...

samy : it means its time u went travelling