Hoysala temples, renowned for their exquisite wall sculptures, epitomize artistry that seamlessly translates the techniques of ivory workers and goldsmiths onto stone.

The inclusion of three 12th and 13th-century Hoysala temples – Chennakeshava temple in Belur, Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu, and Keshava Temple in Somanathapura – in UNESCO’s World Heritage List not only celebrates the craftsmanship but also unveils the political narratives shaping these structures.


Hoysala Architecture

  • Soapstone Craftsmanship: Hoysala architecture is distinguished by the use of soapstone, a pliable material facilitating intricate carvings on temple walls.
  • Diverse Sculptures: The sculptures on these temples encompass a wide array, featuring animals, daily life scenes, and depictions from epics and Puranas.
  • Confluence of Styles: Hoysala architecture uniquely blends three distinctive styles – mainstream Dravidian, Vesara (Chalukya and Rashtrakuta influence), and North Indian Nagara style. This amalgamation is attributed to the Hoysalas’ military expeditions bringing in skilled artisans from varied regions.
  • Stellate Platforms: Typically, Hoysala temples rest on star-shaped platforms, housing multiple structures within the complex.
  • Narrative Sculptures: Walls and pillars adorned with sculptures possess rich narrative and descriptive dimensions, showcasing a remarkable storytelling aspect.
  • Artistic Signatures: Uniquely, Hoysala temples bear the ‘signature’ of their sculptors and masons, with names and occasional additional details etched onto the structures.
  • Religious Shift: Constructed during a period of prevalent Jainism, these Shaivya and Vaishnava shrines indicate a transition towards Hinduism.


While numerous Hoysala-era temples endure, the three UNESCO-listed temples stand out as prime examples of Hoysala artistry.

UNESCO’s announcement on September 18 during the 45th session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, marked a recognition of India’s nomination dossier submitted in January 2022. These temples, with their rare beauty, stand as testaments to the exceptional architectural and artistic legacy of the Hoysala dynasty.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish December 15, 2023