Hoy meant strike in old Kannada language, It is fabled that Sala the founder of Hoysala dynasty, killed a tiger with a dagger. The priest Sundatta had urged Sala to slay the tiger, thus the folklore was immortalized in all Hoysala edifice. This emblem was popularized by Vishnuvardhan after defeating Gangas @ Talakkad. Basically Hoysalas are from Malad region and inscriptions refer to them as ‘ Lord of Male’
The Hoysala reign began from 900 AD and ended in 1343 AD when Veera Ballal III was killed in the battle of Madurai. Vishnuvardhan, who was a jain, moved his capital from Belur to Halebid in 1116 AD. Hoysala’s were earlier feudatories of Chalukyas, Veera Ballal II freed Hoysala’s from sub-ordination of Chalukyas in 1187 AD. Some of the famous kings ruled the Hoysala empire were Veera Ballala ( 1102-1108) Vishnuvardhan ( 1108-1152) Narasimha I ( 1152-1173) Veera Ballala II ( 1173-1220) Vira Narashima Ii (1220-1235) Vira Someshwara ( 1235-1254) Narasimha III ( 1254-1291) & Veera Ballala (1292-1343).
During the Hoysala reign three famous philosophers Basavana, Madhavacharya and Ramanujacharya left their imprint. Basavanna preached religion without caste system, he believed in work is worship philosophy.
Temple architecture :
The pedestal on which the Hoysala temples were built most star shaped and were meant for circumambulation. The deities, legends, war scenario were carved on the façade of the temple at eye level. The craftsmen were aided by the soap stone, which lent itself for fine carving just like the goldsmiths. The finesse of the artisans Dasoja and his son Chavana were exhibited in Belur, Kedaroja was the chief at Halebid and Jakanachari at Somnathpur and Amruthpura.
Pierced window screens, Knowledge of light and shade effect on the temple walls was fully exploited by the artisans. Natural lighting and ventilation was aim of the archictects. The element of Sun, Stone and Sky blended well with landscape. The roof design took care of the rain, lightening and sunshine to have the least effect on the structure. The life style of era such as dancing, dressing, hunting, warfare and worship are displayed on the façade. Some erotica are filled in the form of busts and scuttle sculptures.
TEMPLE LOCATION KING YEAR
Lakshmi Devi temple Doddagudvalli Vishnuvardhan 1113
Chennakesava temple Belur Vishnuvardhan 1117
Hoysaleswara temple Halebid Vishnuvardhan 1120
Bucheswara temple koravangala Veera Ballal II 1173
Amruteshwara Amrutpura Veera Ballal II 1196
Vir Naryana Belvadi Veera Ballal II 1200
Nageshwara Mosale Veera Ballal II 1200
Chennakesava Mosale Veera Ballal II 1200
Ishwara/Shivalaya Arisikere Veera Ballal II 1220
Mallikarjun Basaralu Veera Narasimha II 1234
Someswara Haranahalli Veera Someswara 1235
Lakshmi Narasimha Haranahalli Veera Someswara 1235
Lakshmi Narasimha Nuggehalli Veera Someswara 1246
Chenna Kesava Arleguppa Veera Someswara 1250
Lakshmi Naryana Hosaholalu Veera Someswara 1250
Yoga Lakshminarasimha Javagalu Veera Someswara 1250
Kesava Somnathpur Narasimha III 1268
Apart from the famous Chennakesava temple of Belur and Hoysaleswara temple at Halebid. Hassan district boasts of multiple heritage places such as :
Nuggehalli : There are two ancient hoysala temples at Nuggehalli one is of Laxmi Narasimha and another Kesava temple. Both these temples are in pristine condition, but various signs of vandalism are visible to naked eyes. This beautiful temple with gopuram and various statues on the temple façade is just a feast to the eyes. Nuggehalli is approximately 15 kms from Blore-Mlore Highway, with deviation near KEB office on the outskirts of Hirasave town. There is no sign board. Of course after Chennarayapatna town there is a sign board showing the direction to this destination, which is an alternative but longer route from Bangalore.
Arisikere : This is an important railway junction and trading centre at Hassan District, the number of tourist attractions in this town are multiple. Enroute, we missed visiting Hulikere Hoysala temple near Gandasi on Arisikere Tiptur route. Enroute to Tiptur from Nuggehalli there is Anathi, which has an ancient Jain Basadi and few monuments on the lake bed in various stages of ruin. Hopefully the new temple under construction on the lake bed may house some of ancient statues which are lying scattered.
a) Shivalaya : This temple is pretty unique in construction, a dome like structure with pillared verandah which has seating place for piligrims traveling the distance to visit this temple is unique. There is a Nandi on top of the temple instead or normal Sala slaying the tiger, which is symbol of Hoysala reign. It obviously indicates that the temple of is of Chalukya origin rather than Hoyala reign. The landscaping around the temple is one of the best after Halebid and worth admiring for its simplicity and grandeur. All the elements of nature, Stone, grass and sky has been used to its maximum effect in this edifice. Some of the temple statues have been vandalized. The locking technology using the iron clamp to prevent the structure from crumbling can be witnessed in this temple. There is an urgent need to have police post in this edifice to protect from further vandalism.
b) Jainalaya : Most of the statues and other sculptures of this edifice is under safe custody of Shravanbelagola trust according to the priest. This basadi is under renovation, with its priest staying in the compound. If one visualizes the original edifice, it would have been beautifully adorned with statues of all the jain Thirtankaras which have been installed at Shravanbelagola, hopefully after the renovation is complete we can see some of the original edicts and statues being re-installed.
c) Ranganathswamy Temple : This temple seems to be erected during the times of Vijaynagar empire, with Madhav Nayak the feudatory being credited for this fortress temple. The distinct signs of fortress is evident but amazingly, it seems incomplete for reasons of decline of vijaynagar empire. This temple is perfect example of the heritage being totally destroyed with modern usage of distemper and emulsion painting. ASI and state govt. would do us a great service if they can get rid of the painting and ensure that in future none of the monuments face the scourge of vandalism in the name of utilizing temple funds. One the temple premise the backdrop of the Melkalu Tirupathi hills is a beautiful sight. It is best experienced if one scales the temple boundary wall with steps and circambulate the entire premise.
d) Melkalu Tirupathi : 1250 steps trekking to the peak, is quite physically demanding but worth its effort in gold. The special trick to climb this hillock is to crisscross ones leg and climb, which has been beautifully captured by an video of 65 year old priest demonstrating the same. Please see the link.The scenic beauty enroute with rocky formation, landscape, vision of the lake beds, and various insignificant sculptures enroute creates its own aroma. This seems to be incomplete venture of Madhav Nayak, the temple on top belongs to Lord Venkateswara in its simplicity. Generally the trudge takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes under sufficient resting condition. It is better to carry a pinch of salt and candies to avoid dehydration and muscle sprain. The penis like rocky formation if observed closely on the temple boundary is a connoisseurs delight. Once again modern painting has robbed the original charm of the incomplete temple. It is better to undertake journey in the morning after informing the temple priest, there is no demands from the priest, but a tip of Rs 50/- would be inorder for the priests effort.
e) Mutts & Important Jain temple : There are at least 6 mutts, Sharada Mutt, Siddeswar Mutt, Kodi Mutt, etc in and around Arisikere Town. If two days halts the entire circuit can be explored and maybe one can discover further ancient heritage, which are unknown to the cyber world.
f) Harnahalli : One has to literally hunt the priest who holds the key to the temple. We were guided by the villagers to the priests house to unlock the gate and doors of the temple. A tip of Rs 20 to the priest will be in order. Landscaping work is yet to be complete. This town is located 8 kms from Arsikere town. The architecture is splendid for both the temples, once is under renovation. The someswar and keshav temples must have been a beauty to cherish for art lovers.
g) Garudangiri hill & ruined fort : This place boasts of ruined fort and a beautiful hillock, one can definitely venture out in the mornings to explore undiscovered face of ancient heritage. It is located on the banavara route approximately 15 kms away from Arisikere town.
h) Kwaja Mosque & Javagal Mosque : A rocky mosque enroute Banavar on the roadside is visible for the Islamic brethrens.
ARIKERE : This falls enroute to the Javagal from Banvara route. We would have Missed this ancient hoysala & chalukya heritage prior to Javagal temple. This Temple is located amidst a Rural village just off the main route. Once again we had to take the help of Local villager to compel the watchmen to open the temple doors. He was a Person who wanted to blackmail us to cough money for photography and showing the Interiors of the beautiful temple. We ended up paying Rs 10/- and warning him not to undertake such blackmailing tactics in future for any tourists.
JAVAGAL : A beautiful Lakshmi Narashima temple is located just inside the town, along with a Jainalaya and desolate Jain Basadi. This temple is unique in architecture with Jain pillars and other monuments pointing to the unique blend. The temple beauty is destroyed by distemper. The elephant motifs at the enterance are really adorable, and one structure is just embedded in the pavement. One can see the local boys spending time playing cricket, probably to honour our own Javagal Srinath whose ancestors house is located nearby to the temple.
BELAVADI : This wonderful place in the border of chickmaglur district houses approximately 11 kms from the famous Halebid monument. A beautiful Yoga Narashima temple with blend of Jain & Vijaynagar architecture is featured in this temple. There are 3 goddess in this temple precincts, they are Venugopala, Veer Naryana and Yoganarashima. The blending of the elements can be captured beautifully on the camera, sun rays, garden, horticulture, stone sculpture, etc are finest of the hindu age. This unparalleled combination of nature can rarely be seen in other monuments. Elephants adorn the temple premises in strategic points, it has beautiful resting verandah for piligrims. There is a poojary who is more attentive and responsive to tourist needs. He was the only poojary, who came on his own and opened the temple premises to show us all the gods with light, without any rancor or prejudice. How we wish all other priests and caretakers of the temples under priests are similar in nature.
Halebid Eroticism : Four innocuous looking panels display the intrinsic porno knowledge of the times at Halebid. Some of the menakas and apsaras are well busted and their pose has been tantalizingly portrayed. The Jain statue too boldly displays the cultural heritage of times. Looking at the historical perspective, I am compelled to surmise that Hoysala porn heritage is older to chandela’s at Khajuraho . The landscaping and the display of architecture in various forms of Lord Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh has been mindboggling. The incomplete edifice is now in the delicate phase of collapse, it has compelled the ASI to undertake water proofing on the terrace. There is a open air museum on the premise of Halebid which is veritable collection of all the recovered sculptures. This is only a drop in the ocean as far as I understand, considering the litters strewn. Some villagers claim the lake bed opposite known as Dhorasamudra contains a veritable treasure dumped into the water bed.
The landscaping of Halebid is still under massive expansion to utilize the space available. It will be the place to visit and adore, for those who would like to explore the rural settings, there is Mayura shantala government guest house without much luxury settings unlike Hassan. If one takes a sunrise walk on lawns of Halebid temple it is marvelous awakening of senses. One has to just walk in and experience the chirping of the birds to awaken the lord himself. Unfortunately the priests do not have early morning habit to open the temple @ Halebid. The statues inside are a treat to watch. The guides do demand exhorbitant fees even from a domestic tourist view point. There seems to union of sorts to exploit the tourists among the guides stationed here. The government of Karnataka and ASI should step in to regulate with a composite fee of Rs 25 per head for adults inclusive of all facilities such as parking, toilet, shoe stand, visit to temple, museum, camera etc. It is shocking when there is no enterance fee charged for entry a guide should charge Rs 125 for a couple, Rs 200/- for a family and Rs 300/ to foreign tourists. The parking fee is Rs 30/- Shoe stand charges are Rs 2/- per pair. The government official stationed in the shantala guest house does not have much work. Employment generation to the locals is of prime importance which can generate at least 1000 jobs in Halebid alone which can be used as a Hub for Hoysala heritage trip. Another major infrastructure development required is to have good accommodation facility for tourists visiting Halebid. It should be in between Belvadi and Halebid so that both the destinations are given tourism impetus.
KAEDESWAR TEMPLE : This is another great edifice built probably during the Vishnuvardhan era to compress the time frame of construction unlike Halebid hoysaleswara temple. There is an element of Jain architecture signifying conversion of the emperor. As per Hoysala tradition this temple too stands on a pedestal, with the lake bed acting as a boundary. There was a pond at the edge of the temple which has been sealed. BASADIHALLI : The architecture of this temple is pure Jain style. In recognition of Jainism the emperor has built a testimonial to the contribution of Jain philosophy. There is 14 feet high Parsvanath idol inside the temple, and another temple consists of Linga. There is a strong linkage of Shiva with Jains. A beautiful stupa exists in front of the Shivalaya, which is a unique feature. The roofs of the temple are beautifully carved. The landscaping in the premise are quite appealing. Many of the idols from this temple seems to be missing, either they must have been shifted to Shravanbelagola or to the museum. One which is kept on the lawns of Halebid temple seems to be definitely shifted from this temple.
HULIKERE KALAYANI : This is a beautiful, temple pond with 12 mantapas surrounding the tank bed. It is fabled that Tigers were frequent visitors to this village and one such Tiger was slain by Sala who is the founder of Hoysala dynasty. Some people in modern times pray for procreation in this pond. The landscaping around this monument has restored its dilapidated condition. It is better not to attempt stepping into water, one can be drowned.
DODDAGUDVALLI : This temple is on the Belur highway near Kirkere, a small poster indicates the presence of the monument. The temple is built on the lake bed in a unique fashion, one can find the Hoysala slaying the tiger symbol and the Khalasa on the dome of the temple. There are 5 gopura’s in the main temple. The uniqueness of this temple is that one should not kneel in this temple. If one does he shoes his foot to one of the goddess. There are 4 goddess surrounding if one stands and watches from the centre ramp. There are two demonic figures potraying the slaying of the victims. ASI has done an excellent work in restoring the crumbling edifice. The aging of the structure indicates that the life of this edifice is nearing completion. We hope the preservation efforts and regular maintainence pays dividends. The guard backs up as a guide, it is worth tipping him Rs 10/- for his knowledge. The road access to this temple is narrow, not many vehicles can be parked over here.
KORVANGALA : This temple is located near Hassan approximately 8 kms on the Arisikere route, there is a short cut route too which may cut the distance by 2 kms according to natives. This temple was built during the time of Ballal II in 1173 AD according to the inscriptions found in the temple. There is the famous Hoysala stamp with Sala slaying the tiger on the gopuram and the khalasa on the top. In front of this neatly maintained temple, there lies a ruined temple, which seems to have been encroached up by unauthorized construction of a community hall, which is surprisingly financed by Canara bank. The local village authorities have colluded to destroy the heritage. Such blatant violation of regulations by a powerful lobby is sad. I hope the state government takes a serious note of violations. The guide Venkatramana was lamenting that the authorities have shown no inclination to punish the violators who may be involved in stealing the artifacts and surreptously using it for construction activity.
SHANTIGRAMA : An ancient temple has been renovated, with no respect to the heritage with painting and other modern amenities like water supply passing through the outlet is astonishing. A huge water tank is laid on the mantap giving it a ugly look. This temple is the finest example of converting the heritage into a modern mockery. The gopuram is fully painted. It is located just before Hassan Town, a short cut exists from Koravangala to reach this place. ANEKERE : It is another hoysala heritage located close to Chennarayapatna town, one can go by a shortcut enroute from Shantigrama too. But it is advisable to avoid the short cut, if one looses the track it can be disaster. The main road is faster on the highway. The Khalasa at the roof top is beautiful, this temple has been renovated by the Shravanbelagola trust. The priest nearby to the temple holds the key to the temple.
OBSERVATIONS: The trail of Hoysala temples architecture may be an eye opener in many ways for lovers of heritage. Except for Belur and Halebid temples many of the other edifices built during the era, is crumbling and requires initiative from the Govt, NGO’s and other charitable trusts to protect the rich heritage. The scale of isolation and neglect of the monuments at Hulikere, Korvangala, etc speaks volume. They must be heaven for smugglers and anti-social elements to make a fast buck. However Hegde’s of Dharmastala have done their might in restoration and maintainence of the temple at Anekere, which is really appreciable.
1. Statues and artifacts littered and installed in the villages.
2. Stones from the monument or forts used for household construction.
3. Vandalism of the valuable art, and probably smuggling or sale to outsider for a small price.
4. In accessibility or improper directions for reaching the heritage sites.
5. Main Door Keys of the temples are handed over to priests staying nearby or to a watchmen who are most untraceable or unconcerned about tourists.
6. Absence of security to protect the monuments.
7. Monuments are in various stage of collapse due to lack of proper maintainence.
8. Unauthorized constructions particularly close to monuments such as Korvangala temple premises financed by Canara Bank surprisingly.
9. Lack of parking facility in most of the monuments.
10. Guideline for guides and their charges are lacking along with a composite formula.
ASI & STATE TOURISM CO-ORDINATION : It is vital that ASI and state tourism act in unison with a single purpose of preserving the monuments of Hoysala heritage from being smuggled or used for construction of local buildings. In case ASI is falling short of budget, they can always invite private institutions of repute to contribute and maintain the sites for 99 years, with free and unlimited access for their corporate promotion. There is an urgent need for protection of such monuments which are lying in distraught condition. The monuments are located not only in Hassan district, but also in Bijapur district near Aihole, and other places. 1. Police posts or beats are essential in all such monuments, which will protect the monuments from further vandalism.
2. All monuments which are lying in ruins at Hulikere, Korvangala should be immediately taken possession and stored under strict vigilante. A proper record of all the recovered statues, pillars, and important décor items should be maintained.
3. No fresh constructions near the heritage sites should be allowed within 500 meters, so that adequate space for landscaping, parking and tourist facilities can be installed in future.
4. A co-ordinated effort to promote tourism of Hoysala heritage can be organized by improving road access, widening of road on one side by relocation, proper marking with sign boards.
5. Holiday packages to develop awareness of various other destinations of hoysala heritage along with nominal fees levied for guide, parking, shoe stand, toilet facility, drinking water and entry which should not be more than Rs 20 per head. So in effect a family of 5 members spend only Rs 100 maximum.