Hampi , which was always left unchecked in my checklist is ticked off now. Never knew unravelling some history was this much fun with my better half.
Kicked off our road trip from Coimbatore via Mysore. After worshipping at Nanjangud (shiva temple), we had a peek at the Mysore Palace.
Hassan being the nearest city to Halebeedu and Belur we stayed there. Halebeedu and Belur temples are works of Hoysala dynasty, their architecture is a feast to history lovers. Hoysala brings in the minute carving style on soap stones which leaves you awestruck. Although there are many UNSECO sites to be visited, the Chenakeshava temple in Belur and Hoysaleswara temple in Hallibeedu are the important ones. Visiting such places without a guide is waste of time.
Chennakeshava Temple -Belur
Chenakeshava temple in Belur was built by Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana. The temple is made out of Soap stone with minute carvings depicts the perfection in Hoysala craftsmanship. Even in the present day poojas do not start without Nadaswaram – Mangala Vadyam. Lord Vishnu stands with his wide open lotus eyes. Even during the pooja my eyes were glued to the carvings in the lintel .
The Raja Gopuram was built by Vijayanagar Kindom.There are also other small temples dedicated to other gods like Ranganayaki ,Soumyanayaki, Kappe Chennigaraya & Veeranarayana inside the Chennakeshava temple complex.
The roof of the inner sanctum bores the sculpture of Lord Urgra Narshima . Surrounding the chakra in the roof , there are four sculptures of Apsaras with utmost beauty. Large ornate pillars are not just a support to this art work.
The outer walls are filled with sculptures of Lord Vishnu’s avatars and the uniform frieze on mouldings runs throughout the four walls of the temple. Chennakeshava or handsome Kehsava does live in a handsome adobe.
Hoysaleswara temple- Hallibeedu
This renowned Shiva temple was initiated by Ketamala , a Shiva devote in competition to Vaishnava’s Chennakeshava temple. It is said that Mulsim nawabs from the north ravaged Hallibeedu in the 14th century , post to which the temple is in a semi ruined state. Unlike Chennakeshava temple, Hoysaleswara temple lacks maintenance.
It is not just sculptures of deities, the carvings on the wall depict various stories of Vishnu avatars and Shiva avatars. There is a carving on Lord Vishnu fighting Indra : When Krishna / lord Vishnu is in need of parijatha (tree) to save Indraloka, the tree takes sides with Indra unyielding to Krishna’s request. Infuriated Krishna fights Indra.
In the carving we can find Lord Vishnu along with Lakshimi devi is on Garuda vagana carrying the parijatha tree and Indra along with Shachi is on an elephant fighting Vishnu with his Vajra ayudha.
The temple has two shrines , each of it has a Shiva linga facing east. The outer wall that separates shrines is embossed with sequential designs. Each shrine has a nadhi in the front.
A scene from Mahabratha Arjuna fighting with Karna. This reminds me of a story which my mom told.In Mahabharata war when Karna and Arjuna were duelling, Arjuna made Karan move 30 ft backward with his devastra and Karan in turn aimed for Arjuna’s head but his arrow merely hit Arjuna’s crown(tricked by Krishna). At another instance when Karan makes Arjuna’s chariot move 3 ft backward, Krishna lauds Karna for his valiant move. Arjuna did not understand why Krishna did not praise him when made Karan’s chariot move 30ft backward and also pondered why Krishna did not appreciate Karana when he discrowned Arjuna , but was praising Karna now when he did nothing great of that sort. Krishna later explained that Arjuna’s chariot was guarded by Hanuman (an orange flag in Arjuna’s chariot) so moving his chariot backwards means even Hanuman moved few steps back because of fierce combat put up by Karna. Arjuna in shame put his head down, realising that if not for Lord Krishna and Lord Hanuman he might not even stand a chance against Karna.
Hoysala architecture rich in history is undoubtedly a feast to our eyes. We had time to check out only these two temples, so we planned to skip Shravanabelagola . After having a look at the breath taking peaks in Chickmangalore, next day we started off to Hampi via road .