Destinations - India Heritage

Halebidu | Breathtaking Stone Sculptures | Don’t Miss it!!

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Written by Poorna & Brinda

Halebidu has the finest of Indian Sculptural heritage. Join us here as we explore it.

Halebidu (pronounced as Haley beedu) temple by Hoysalas is the pinnacle of Indian sculptural heritage. Words fail to describe the magnificence of Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu.

It should be seen and savoured. We are reposting this visit which we did three years back with lovely pictures.

Going to Halebidu was a decision taken in a whiff on the last weekend. The plan was to drive very early in the morning on Sunday and capture the beauties of Halebidu temple in camera in the morning light. We wanted to spend three hours to get into minute details of the sculptures. We were doing this detailed exercise for the first time. Not rushing through this time.

We were going there after ten years.

We came back awestruck at the outstanding beauty of the sculptures not seen anywhere in the world. We had seen beautiful sculptures in Khajuraho. But, the details of Halebidu temple in the state of Karnataka in South India is way beyond imagination. You wonder whether it is stone or wax. How can anyone reach such perfection?

As the famed historian and architect George Michell writes in the “Blue guide” on South India.

” The magnificence of these sculptures is “Unsurpassed” anywhere in the world”

How true. It is to be seen to be believed.

The wonder of sculptures in Halebidu temple was aptly summarised by KUVEMPU, the late poet laureate of Karnataka. A great poet of India, KUVEMPU as he was known, Dr K V Puttappa wrote thus in Kannada amazed at the wonders of Halebidu.

ಬಾಗಿಲೊಳು ಕೈ ಮುಗಿದು 

ಒಳಗೆ ಬಾ ಯಾತ್ರಿಕನೆ 

ಶಿಲೆಯಲ್ಲವೀ ಗುಡಿಯು 

ಕಲೆಯ  ಬಲೆಯು!
Translating this in English – pardon our translation – will read thus……

Oh thy traveller
step in with prayers on your lips
hands folded in reverence
for
this is just not a temple of stone
but a wonder of art!

Now, without wasting time, please have a feast for your eyes. We could not resist to post these many pictures. They are just lovely.

Still there are many in the memory stick!

Please click on the picture to see them in original size.

The Temple complex as seen from Museum

Halebidu Temple

The lovely exteriors of the temple

Halebidu Temple

The temple built on a pedestal and supported by carved pillars

Halebidu Temple

Nandi Mantapas (pavilions) opposite the main shrine

Halebidu Temple

Nandi mantapa with carved pillars

Halebidu Temple

The Eastern or main entrance

Halebidu Temple

The main entrance with beautifully carved Dwarapalakas on either side of the door

Halebidu Temple

A panoramic view of the eastern side of the temple with carved pillars and stone carvings

Halebidu Temple

Close up of the walls. Notice the carvings on the pedestal and immediately on top of it

Halebidu Temple

Carvings on the wall – Varaha, Trimurti, Narasimha, Shiva…..

Halebidu Temple

Wow! A beautiful capture of the wall

Halebidu Temple

Shilabalikas……look at the symmetry!!

Halebidu Temple

The details on these arrays on the outer walls are just mind-boggling …..it celebrates epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, victories of Kings, weddings, festivals……….list is endless

Halebidu Temple

Gods, Shilabalikas in different postures

Halebidu Temple

Dwarapalakas

Halebidu Temple

Beautiful carving on the lintel at the entrance of the temple

Halebidu Temple

Myriad figures on the pedestal of the temple

Halebidu Temple

Shilabalikas again…..

Halebidu Temple

The southern wall embellished with array of sculptures – Notice the Ravana lifting Kailasa and Shiva – Parvati on Nandi…..Awesome!

Halebidu Temple

Let us now come to individual sculptures

Lord Ganesha

Halebidu Temple

Lord Shiva

Halebidu Temple

Mahishasura Mardini

Halebidu Temple

Shila balika – Notice the exquisite carving of her robe under the waist…….all in stone!!

Halebidu Temple

Dwarapalaka – Notice the detailed carving of his dress!!

Halebidu Temple

Lord Krishna playing flute – Muralidhara

Halebidu Temple

Lord Surya – Notice the seven horses which draw his chariot the bottom!

Halebidu Temple

Shilabalikas under a tree. Can you believe this is carved in stone!!!

Halebidu Temple

Lord Krishna again as Govardhana Giridhari – Lifting Govardhana Mountain to save his folks. 

Halebidu Temple

Lord Shiva in a dance pose

Halebidu Temple

 

Shilabalikas….Astonishing details!

Halebidu Temple

Lord Vishnu in Varaha Avatara

Halebidu Temple

Lord Vishnu in Narasimha Avatara

Halebidu Temple

Garuda – Look at the detailed embellishments!!

Halebidu Temple

Trimurti- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara

Halebidu Temple

Natya Saraswati – Also notice the beads in the finger!!

Halebidu Temple

 

Garuda

Halebidu Temple

A nude and voluptuous dancing girl!

Halebidu Temple

A drummer – Notice the intricate carving of the strings of drum!

Halebidu Temple

Is this Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi or king and Queen??

Halebidu Temple

Lord Vishnu – Vamana Avatara

Halebidu Temple

Brahma – Notice the neatly carved beard!!

Halebidu Temple

Ravana, the demon king lifting Mount Kailash. Notice detailed carving of mountain including Shiva – Parvati on top!!

Halebidu Temple

This is the ultimate perfection of sculpture. Notice the girls robe and the wrinkled pattern!!!

Halebidu Temple

Dwrapalakas in front of Hoysaleshwara shrine – Notice small skulls woven beautifully into the sculpture

Halebidu Temple

Magnified version

Halebidu Temple

Interior of the temple. Notice the beautifully carved pillars

Halebidu Temple

Halebidu Temple

Halebidu Temple

Minute details of Ramayana on the pedestal

Halebidu Temple

Ramayana – Battle between Rama and Ravana. Notice the array of arrows!!

Halebidu Temple

Piece de resistance – A few erotic sculptures in the temple!! first time we ever saw this in a Hoysala Temple

Halebidu Temple

Please Check out this slide show of the above pictures on You Tube – Magnificent Halebidu – A Photo show!
Travel Tips
Getting there

Halebidu is at a distance of 220 KMs from Bangalore and 185 KMs from Mangalore in the state of Karnataka in South India.

By Air – Though nearest airport is Mangalore, Bangalore is a convenient hub with better connectivity.

By Bus – There are numerous buses plying between Bangalore and Hassan. Halebidu  temple is 20 KMs from Hassan and there are frequent buses from Hassan. There are few direct buses to Halebidu from Bangalore as well.

By Road – Best option. The road between Bangalore – Hassan has improved and you have a four lane highway for 60% of the distance. The remaining part is being done but the road condition is very good till Hassan and beyond till Halebidu. Suggest take the Belur road to reach Halebidu rather than the direct one from Hassan.

By Train – The new Bangalore – Hassan railway line is a boon. You can take trains from Yashwantpur railway station and then take Autorikshaw from Hassan.

Stay Options

The nearest stay option is Hoysala Village resort. There is also excellent Captains Farm, a lovely boutique home stay close to Halebidu. But there are good options in Haasan and Chikmagalur. Halebidu can be comfortably explored making either Hassan or Chikmagalur as base.

Other Information

a) Invest at least three hours to explore Halebidu.

b) There are few guides available at the entrance to temple who can be helpful. They charge Rs 300. But please go beyond what the guides tell and show and explore Halebidu on your own. You will not regret it.

c) If you are keen on Photography, go there early. The early morning sunlight lights up the eastern part of the temple beautifully which helps take nice pictures.

d) There are few eating places in Halebid. If you are hungry, these are the only option.

e) The small shops in Halebidu sell excellent bananas. Try it.

f) The museum has some excellent exhibits and entrance fee is Rs 10. Go for it.

g) There is a small lake next to the heritage site which has boating facilities. If you want to have a boat ride, you have a chance here.

h) Don’t forget to visit the Jain temple and Kedareshwara temple which is close to main site.

i) Halebidu can be comfortably combined with a visit to other excellent Hoysala temples Belur and Belavadi.

j) It will be hot during summer. Wear a good hat. You are asked to leave the shoes at the entrance – this is a love temple – which means you may have to walk around bare foot. Carry a pair of socks and it come handy.

k) Halebidu can be easily done as a day trip if you love to drive.

Useful Links

For more details on Hoysala Architecture and temples please look at this nice post in Wiki – Hoysala Architecture

 

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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