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Hoysalesvara Temple - Halebid

DISTRICT: Hassan;
TALUK: Belur
LOCALITY: Halebid (Lat. 13° 13' N; Long. 750 59' E)
APPROACH: AIRPORT: Bengaluru;
RAILWAY STATION: Hassan;
BUS STATION: Belur Halebid

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The Hoysalesvara temple, called as 'Vishnuvardhana poysalesvara', in inscription in honour of the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, was built in 1121 AD. It is an ornate dvikuta shrine of twin Siva temple in east-west orientation. Later epigraphical records hail it as ‘Hoysaleswara panchikeswara’ caused by Ketamalla Dandanayaka, this Mahasivanabhuhvana  has on plan a sanctum, a vestibule, a hall and porch which are fused together in the region of hall of dance. Slightly away from the respective eastern mukhamandapas are two nandi mandapas built over the same jagati. There are four entrances to the twin temple flanked by miniature shrines, which are typical to the style. Even the nandi mandapa also has such shrines giving a grand elevation to the temple proper. The jagati offering an imposing elevation to the monument has a flight of steps towards the north south leading to respective shrines in addition to a flight of steps on the southern side of southern nandi mandapa. To the east and west were added two shrines known as Shantaleshvara (west) and Ballaleshvara (east) according to inscriptions, and the shrine of Surya was built abutting the southern nandi mandapa. The temple once hada prakara with an imposing gateway on the south side with royal emblem placed over these mandapas. This temple marks the culmination of Hoysala sculptural art and architecture wherein more than four hundred wall sculptures of exquisite workmanship belonging to Saiva and Vaishnava pantheons, adorn the walls, mixed with secular sculptures of musicians and dancers which are placed over the sculptured adhisthana which has in all 11 friezes of animals, scrolls, swan and makara, etc The bhitti sculptures of dancing Ganesa, the trinities, seated Sarasvati, Goverdhana Girdhari, Siva­ Gajasuramardana, dancing Sarasvati, dancing Bhairavi, Mahishamardini are some of the masterpieces of Hoysala art in this temple. The superstucture, which in all probability was of the Vesara type, is lost. The elaborately sculptured nandi images and the intricately carved southern doorway are other features of excellence in this magnificent monument. The sanctum houses two colossal shiva lingas.