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.
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.
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.
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