Hoysaleswara Temple

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India >> Karnataka >> Belur & Halebid >> Attractions >> Hoysaleswara Temple

Hoysaleswara Temple

History

Hoysaleswara Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built in the 12th century by King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty in Halebidu, in what is today the state of Karnataka. Completed in 1121 CE, the temple was looted by Muslim invaders from northern India in the 14th century, leading to its extensive destruction.

The temple is said to have derived its name from the King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara, although its construction was financed by wealthy Shaiva citizens of the city of Halebidu. Facing a large tank that received water through channels from an ancient dam built over the Yagachi River, it is one of the largest temples dedicated to God Shiva in South India.

The temple has two shrines, one for "Hoysaleswara" and the other for "Shantaleswara", built of Soapstone. The temple is elevated on a platform, believed to have provided the architects sufficient space to portraysculptures of varying sizes. The shrines are juxtaposed and face east, with a mantapa provided in front of each of them. The two mantapas are connected giving a large and imposing view of the hall. Although simple in design, the façade of the temple looks different due to thecountless projections on the walls. The temple has four porches for entry, while the north entrance currently serves as the entry point for visitors.All entry porches have shrines on their sides, besides a sanctuary for the Sun God Surya. The pavilions contain large images of Nandi, the bull, Shiva’s attendant, and share the same jagati as the main temple. The interiors of the temple are surprisingly simple, except for the lathe turned pillars running in tandem from the north and south entrances.

The Hoysaleswara temple is renowned for its wall sculptures that run all along the outer wall, beginning with an image of dancing Ganesha on the left of the south entrance all the way to another image of Ganesha on the right of the north entrance, totalling 240 such images.

The outer walls have two eaves that run around the temple, with the top eave on the roof, while the second is about a meter below. Below the lower eaves are the wall sculptures and eight friezes. Each of the eight friezes carries multiple ornamentations, right from the point where the temple wall meets the platform, the lowest frieze depicts portraying elephants, followed by friezes with lion symbolising valour, floral scrolls for decoration, horses depicting speed, floral scrolls again, depiction of Hindu epics, beasts and a frieze with swans.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the temple and Karnataka is between November and April.

Trivia

An interesting object in the temple complex is the rare Garuda Sthamba or hero stones, dedicated to Garudas, elite bodyguards of the kings and queens who moved and lived with the royal family, and upon the death of their master, committed suicide.

Timing

The temple opens daily at 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.


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