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Halebid, also known as Dwar Samudra is 17 kilometers or 11 miles northeast from Belur. Belur is often referred to as Dakshina Varanasi or the Varanasi of the southern India.
There is a popular legend that Sa la, the head of the clan once faced a tiger. His companions who must have been at a safe distance said Hoy Sa la meaning strike Sa la. Sa’la struck the tiger and killed him. The clan thus got its name Hoysala. The first known ruler of the Hoysala Dynasty that this clan established was Nripa Kama who reigned from 1000 to 1045. Vinayditya I followed him from 1045 to 1098. The third Hoysala ruler, Ereyanga, ruled from 1098 to 1100. Ballala followed him from 1100 to 1108. The fifth Hoysala ruler, Vishnuvardhana ruled from 1108 to 1142. Narasimha I succeeded him from 1142 to 1173. The seventh Hoysala ruler was Veera Ballala II who ruled from 1173 to 1220. Narasimha II followed him from 1220 to 1235. The next Hoysala ruler was Veera Someshwara from 1235 to 1253. Narasimha III and Ramanatha followed him from 1253 to 1295. The last Hoysala ruler was Veera Ballala III who ruled from 1295 to 1342.
The Hoysala Dynasty’s period of their 346 year rule is considered as the second most prosperous and powerful era in the history of Karnataka next to the powerful Vijayanagar Empire. These rulers were initially inspired by Jainism but from the Vishnuvardhana’s period onwards they were all Vaishnava Hindus and were great patrons of the temple architecture of Belur, Halebid and Somanathpura. The Dynasty encouraged the teaching and learning of both the native Kannada and the classical Sanskrit languages. Literature in both languages flourished during their reign. Hoysala Dynasty rulers were great patrons of arts, literature and temple architecture. During their rule some of the greatest Kannada poets like Rudrabhatta, Janna, Harihara and Raghavanka flourished. The exquisite workmanship on a massive scale was the hallmark of their temple architecture in Belur, Halebid, Somanathapur, Arasikere and Amritapura in the Karnataka State and Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. To assert their power in their entire kingdom, they minted coins called Honnu weighing 62 grains in Gold, Pana that was a tenth of Honnu, Haga that was a quarter of Pana and Visa that was a quarter of Haga. Coins called Bele and Kani also circulated in this period.
Originally they served as subordinates to the Chalukya Dynasty rulers of Kalyani. Gradually they increased their influence to eventually assert sovereignty by defeating the Chalukyas. They ruled from Halebid in the beginning for about 150 years but when their capital was repeatedly invaded and was almost in ruins, they decided to move to Belur. At the peak of their power Vishnuvardhana conquered Gangavadi region from the Chola Dynasty. He built the Vijayanarayana Chennakeshva Temple at Belur to commemorate this important victory. Katamalla, the commander of his army had the Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebid constructed. Vishnuvardhana nonetheless could not overthrow the Chalukya rulers. His dream was fulfilled by his grandson, Veera Ballala II. He freed himself from imprisonment and finally defeated the last Kalyani Chalukya ruler, Someshwara IV at Soraturu in 1189. Veera Ballal II defended the kingdom successfully against Pandya rulers of Tamil Nadu and the original city of Bangalore was established under his patronage. Hoysala kingdom expanded further in the reign of his son. Narasimha II, the seventh Hoysala ruler conquered Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu to make it his winter capital. The grandson of Narasimha II, Veera Ballala III was the first Hindu ruler who could unite most of south India under his rule and could thwart the aggression of Bahamani Sultans. He died in the battle of Madurai in 1343. His sons, Harihara (Hakka) and Bukkaraya (Bukka) established the Vijayanagara Empire.
The Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebid is even larger and again very unique in its architecture. Here the architect planned two identical temples parallel to each other and connected them together at their transepts. The raised plinth of this temple is filled with rows of sensuous sculpture in the form celestial dancers, a variety of animals, vegetation and many other objects. Percy Brown contrasted the Halebid Temple with Parthenon as two extremes of the architectural art of the world. While the Parthenon has the cold purity of form, the Halebid Temple explodes in warm complexity of its sculptural architechtonics. It is definitely the finest example of Hoysala temple architecture.
One of the temples houses the Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleshwar Linga and the other temple across the common broad “Navaranga” transept houses the Shanthaleshwara Linga. The Nandi Mandapa is located in its typical place at the entrance in front of the temple. Behind this Mandapa is the shrine dedicated to Surya, the sun god and has an impressive almost seven feet high idol. The temple doorways are also very intricately carved. There are narrations of episodes from the ancient Hindu epics Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Bhagwata in rows of carvings on the outer walls. Kedareshwara Temple is the other interesting temple in the area that was built under the patronage of Ketaladevi, the queen of Ballala II.
There are no hotels in Belur and Halebid. Most visitors stay in Hassan and take a short drive to Belur and Halebid from there.
Hoysala Village Resort, Hassan – 33 rooms
Mallige Residency - 42 rooms
Candy Southern Star, Hassan – 48 rooms
Hassan Ashok Hotel - 23 AC rooms, 1 AC suite & 22 non-AC rooms
Distance from Hassan in Kilometers and Miles:
Hassan: 50 Kilometers or 31 Miles
Belur: 38 Kilometers or 24 Miles
Halebid: 55 Kilometers or 35 Miles
Bangalore: 187 Kilometers or 116 Miles
Mysore: 115 Kilometers or 72 Miles