photo essay

Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu 

In Hassan District of Karnataka lies the town of Halebidu, which was once the capital of the mighty Hoysala dynasty. The Hoysalas ruled most of present day Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu between the 11th and 14th century CE. Prolific builders, Hoysala art stands out on two counts - they are marked by rich, intricately carved sculptures and the use of a dark hued soap stone that proved ideal, to work on.

Once called ‘Dwarasamudra’ the Hoysala capital was sacked twice, by the marauding army of the Delhi Sultan, Ala-ud-din Khilji under the command of his famed General, Malik Kafur in the 14th century CE. After this the Hoysalas deserted the capital which came to be known as Halebidu, meaning ‘Old Town’. All that survives of the glorious past are a few exquisitely carved temples.



A wing of the Hoysaleshwara Temple
A wing of the Hoysaleshwara Temple|LHI Team

The Hoysaleshwara Temple is known for its detailed carvings and is dedicated to Shiva. It was built by King Vishnuvardhana over a period of 30 years between 1120- 1150 CE. The temple has numerous miniature shrines at the entrance and meshes or Jaali’s called Vyatayanas on the walls to allow the breeze to flow in.



A pillared panel right in front of the temple houses a massive Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva.
A pillared panel right in front of the temple houses a massive Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva.|LHI Team

King Vishnuvardhana, the builder of this temple complex in Halebidu converted to Shaivism from Jainism and Hoysaleshwara Temple is a grand tribute to Shiva.



The Nandi is carved out of a single monolithic rock.
The Nandi is carved out of a single monolithic rock.|LHI Team
The profusely carved doorway leading to the main hall  is flanked by <i>Dwarapalas</i>, the guardians of the temple. The arch has the image of Nataraj, the dancing form of Shiva.
The profusely carved doorway leading to the main hall is flanked by Dwarapalas, the guardians of the temple. The arch has the image of Nataraj, the dancing form of Shiva.|LHI Team
One of the most stunning features of the temple is the highly polished pillars with horizontal mouldings, a special feature of the Hoysala era architecture.
One of the most stunning features of the temple is the highly polished pillars with horizontal mouldings, a special feature of the Hoysala era architecture.|LHI Team
Some really exquisite panels include those of musicians, playing instruments such as a dholki or drums .
Some really exquisite panels include those of musicians, playing instruments such as a dholki or drums .|LHI Team
A close view of the detailing on the exterior of the temple which showcases warriors, mythical characters and animals such as elephants, crocodiles and swans.
A close view of the detailing on the exterior of the temple which showcases warriors, mythical characters and animals such as elephants, crocodiles and swans.|LHI Team

Hoysaleswara Temple is a true testimony of the grandeur of the Hoysalas. This intricately carved temple is considered to be a ‘masterpiece of South Asian Art’ by historians.

Subscribe to our
Free Newsletter!

Subscribe to Newsletter!

Join our mailing list to recieve the latest news and updates from our team.

close