Hoysaleswara Temple – Vestige of 12th Century Temple Architecture

Hoysaleswara Temple in Karanataka is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Halebidu (Halebeedu or Halebid), Hassan. The temple is located at a distance of 150 kms from Mysore. The construction of the temple began in the 12th century by the King of Hoysala. This temple was then looted in the 14th century and it fell into ruins after that

It is said that the temple got its name from the King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara, who built the temple. A large amount of contribution was received from the Shaivas (Shiva devotees) for the construction of the temple. It was built to compete with the Chennakesava temple which was under construction as a Vaishnava temple. The Hoysaleswara Temple is surrounded by ponds, mantapas and lakes. It is well known for the sculptures and architecture of Hoysala period.

The temple has intricate carvings and has a plan with two shrines, one for the king and one for the queen. There are around one thousand figures on the walls which depict scenes of Mahabharata and Ramayana. The outer walls also have convoluted carvings and the temple has been described as an outstanding example of Hindu architecture.

The most interesting part of the temple is the Garuda Sthamba, which is a rare pillar that depicts the history of the bodyguards that lived with the Kings in olden days. These bodyguards committed suicide on the death of their master and this pillar pays homage to a bodyguard named Kuruva Lakshma who killed himself after the death of his master. The event is narrated in detail on the pillar. This temple has been listed as a heritage site by the UNESCO.

Tourists can visit the temple either through Mysore or Bengaluru Airport. From there one will have to reach the temple by road. The nearest railway station is located at Bangalore and Mysore and there are various trains running from Hassan to Mysore and Bangalore. Tourists wish to reach there by road can get bus from Helbidu to Hassan. It is 16 kms from Belur and 31 kms from Hassan.

The best time to visit this temple is in February for the festival of Shivratri.