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Halebidu: 12th Century marvel of Hoysala kings

city kemp Halebidu Lord Ganesh more than lifesize sculpture city kemp Halebidu star shaped temple one of the corners city kempMalik Kafur an effeminate born son of a Rajput landlord was purchased by Aladdin Khilji for a sum of 1000 dinars, to serve as a slave to the Emperor of Delhi, who was enamoured by him.
He was castrated,  converted to Islam. This nicknamed person ‘Hazar Dinari’ . .  . rose up the ranks to be a “Naib” – Military General and came into play an important role to the Khilji Dynasty. Kafur led the sultan’s army through the mountains attacking all kingdoms from south of Delhi – Yaadavas, Kakatiyas, Hoysalas… passing Malabar and Madurai shattering the Pandyan Empire.  His plundered booty from kingdoms, temples, houses making no difference included the Kohl-i-noor diamond.
Malik Kafur ransacked the city Dwarasamadura, the regal city of Hoysalas begetting it’s name ‘Halebidu’ – literally old city. Bennegudda hill looks down on the remains of this destroyed city. The twin temples built on a platform adjacent to each other both faces east  standing side by side. The Hoysaleshwara temple stands on a star shaped base correlating the construction upwards, they donot coverge to gopuras or temple towers.
Soap-stone (chloritic schist) used here has the quality of  the finest carving depth with details like done on ivory, even the ornaments the cloth foldings, hair and flower-petal details are achieved by the artisans of that 12 century period. This Hoysala art is characteristic of most sculpture in the temple. It’s believed there is a presence of 20,000 sculptures in this temple complex. This has setting me thinking of camping at this edifice for a week… capturing all for my photography album files along with the nearby places Belur and Shravanabelgola.
Halebidu is an amalgamation of two cultures – Hinduism and Jainism. Vishnuvardhana the king was attracted and leaned towards Hinduism impressed by Saint Ramanujacharya. Whereas his beautiful dancer queen Shantala remained rooted to Jainism. This temple complex took over a 100 years to be completed enshrining Vishnuvardhan -the king and Shantala – the queen.  Finally Kedaroja, the chief architect and the son of the king and queen completed the temple complex. The temple is guarded by two Nandi – the bulls, also stands unfinished.  A few sculptures on a closer look look unfinished too.
The walls of the temples are covered by endless depictions from Hindu mythology, birds, animals, dancing figurines. The Jain basadi located closeby is also rich in details. This is a protected monument and proposed to be an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Planning a day trip or an overnite one. It’s possible to visit all the 3 places (Belur, Halebidu & Shravanabelgola) in a day or choose two -Belur & Halebidu be it from Bangalore, Mangalore or Mysore. Overnight you could make Hassan as the base… more adventurous ones can include Chickmagalur – a beautiful place and extend it to a 2 day tourism jaunt. Hassan and Chickmagalur have decent places to stay. Belur, Halebidu & Shravanabelgola have KSTDC basic accommodation places which are affordable. Kindly make and confirm your bookings before you start the journey. Talk to local people and be bold enough to taste the local simple cuisine. Start early these places are open from sunrise to sunset. Enjoy the visual beauty with the different angles and the intensity of the Sun’s rays.
Own Transport:
lBangalore to Hassan is a 3 hour journey of 185 kms.
lHassan to Belur is 40 kms approx. 1 hour journery.
lHassan to Halebidu is 33 kms approx. 45 minute drive.
lHassan to Shravanabelgola is 53 kms appx. 1 hour journey.
lHalebidu to Belur is approx. 18 kms a 40 mins drive.
lHalebidu/Belur  to Shravanabelgola is a 85 kms drive taking you a 90 mins.
l Chickmagalur to Belur and Halebidu is about 30 kms and takes you an hour.
lChickmagalur to Shravanabelgola is a 2 hour drive of 115 kms.
lShravanabelgola to Bangalore is a 145 kms drive of 2 hours 30 mins.
Don’t like to drive. One can take a train from Bangalore via Mysore to Hassan and use local transport like buses or taxis. Or reach Hassan directly and make your own transportation. KSTDC, the tourism arm of our state has package tours to these places.

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