Exquisite carvings that tell stories of beauty, valour and life

The Belur– and Halebid temples, proposed UNESCO heritage sites are two of the hallmarks of Hoysala architecture .The Hoysala Empire in Southern India flourished between 10th and 14th century, and spawned an era of artistic exuberance.

The name Hoysala and the royal emblem are taken from a folklore according to which a young man, Sala saved his guru from a tiger by striking it dead (‘hoy’ meaning strike in local language).

Hoysala emblem

Legend has it that the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana and his dancer-wife Queen Shantala, who were Jains (a religion founded by Mahaveer Jain) had a daughter who suffered from an incurable chronic mental illness. She was miraculously cured by a greatly revered Hindu saint (Ramanuja) who was visiting. After this, the King converted to Hinduism and commissioned the creation of over a 100 temple monuments, that to this day are the pride and joy of our state. Most of the temples were in the making for close to 100 years and finally completed during the reign of Vishnuvardhana’s grandson.

The temples are known for their unique stellar design; thousands of embellished figures carved out of soapstone; horizontal Friezes of elephants, lions and horses and many ornate pillars- some of which used to revolve on ball-bearing structures.

The sublime and ethereal carvings transported me into another world and I could almost imagine the lithesome dancers, their bells chiming in unison and their graceful poses which inspired some of the famous filigree idols such as ‘beauty with mirror’, ‘the lady with the parrot’, ‘the huntress’. And hear the rhythmic beating of the mallet on the chisel as the skilful artisans carved the soft soapstone with exquisite craftsmanship into intricate sculptures that depict celestial beings and stories of mythology.

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Weekly Image of Life: Stories and Photographs


15 thoughts on “Exquisite carvings that tell stories of beauty, valour and life

  1. Brought back memories Deepa.
    Did you know we lived in Hassan for eight years and I almost felt like a guide taking people to Belur and Halebid and even Sravanabelagula every other day? But strangely I have very few photographs to show for those million visits!! 😀

    1. Wow! Hassan , the heart of karnataka heritage- so many beautiful places around! Im sure you must have made a very good guide 🙂 , definetely better than the one we had, a recorded audio tape! Strangely, this was our first visit inspite of living in B’lore for so many years ! true, we never thought much of taking photos in the olden days, especially of the ones in our backyard.

      1. This was literally my backyard and our visits so frequent – with Hassan being midway between Mangalore and Bangalore – that there were times I just couldn’t bear to do it one more time and would wait in the car with the AC on, while friends went around by themselves 😀 So no….not always a good guide 🙂

  2. You had me “wowed” with the carvings and the amazing legend. There are no words to describe how beautiful the place is, it’s stories and the artisitic workmanship made by hand powered by the passion of its people and their faith. Just like you, I felt like I was transformed to another world. A world of wonder and beauty. Have a great week. Thanks for sharing this mesmerizing place.

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