Bangalore - Halebid

Hassan district is the 220 km (137 miles) west of Bangalore. Set amid a lush agricultural landscape ringed by distant hills, this isolated site was the Hoysala capital in the 12th and 13th centuries. While the palace has yet to be excavated, the stone ramparts that once surrounded the city can still be seen. Outside the ramparts, to the east, is the vast tank known as Dorasamudra, which was also the city's original name. Today, the principal attraction of Halebid is the Hoysaleshvara Temple, begun in 1121 by king Vishnuvardhana, but never finished. This structure comprises
a pair of identical temples, each with its own east-facing linga sanctuary opening on to a hall and a screened porch Each temple is also preceded by a pavilion with a huge statue of Nandi, the bull-vehicle of Shiva. As the two halls are joined together to create a spacious columed interior, the temples function as a single monument. The outer walls are elevated on friezes of naturalistic and fanciful animals, interspersed with animated carvings of scences from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Among the finest wall panels here are those of Shiva dancing on the outstreched skin of the elephant demon he had slain, Krishna playing the flute and Krishna holding up Mount Govardhan, on the south face of the southern sanctuary.

On the north face of the northern sanctuary is a splendid Nataraja (Shiva as the Lord of Dance) and a panel depicting a crouching multi-armed and - headed Ravana creeping up on Shiva and Parvati seated on Mount Kailasa. Set on the plinth on which the temple is raised is a three dimensional composition of a warrior plunging his sword into a leonine beast with a ferocious head, interpreted as the dynastic symbol of the martial Hoysala rulers.The landscaped garden in front of the Hoysaleshvara Temple serves as an Archaeological Museum. Among the panels exhibited here is one showing a majestic seated Ganesha. A short distance south of the complex is a group of 12th century Jain bastis.

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