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Hoysala Temples – Key Facts


The Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysala, the famed Hoysala temples of Belur, Halebid and Somanathapur in Karnataka have been added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list. This inclusion marks the 42nd UNESCO World Heritage Site in India


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Hoysala Temples – Key Facts
  2. Hoysala Architecture

Hoysala Temples – Key Facts

Chennakeshava Temple in Belur:

  • Built by Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in 1116 AD.
  • Located in Belur on the banks of the Yagachi River, a former Hoysala Empire capital.
  • Star-shaped temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebid:

  • One of the largest Shiva temples constructed by the Hoysalas.
  • Features sculptures depicting Shiva, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata Purana scenes.
  • Halebid includes three Jaina basadi (temples) and a stepped well.

Keshava Temple of Somanathapur:

  • Trikuta Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in three forms: Janardhana, Keshava, and Venugopala.
  • Missing Keshava idol; Janardhana and Venugopala idols are damaged.

Hoysala Architecture

  • Hoysala Temples constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries CE.
  • Design and artistry of the Hoysala dynasty’s architecture.
  • All three Hoysala temples are under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Key Architectural Elements:

  • Mantapa (Hall)
  • Vimana (Tower)
  • Sculpture
  • These temples not only serve as architectural marvels but also as preservers of the Hoysala dynasty’s cultural and historical legacy.
  • Hoysala temples often referred to as hybrid or vesara due to their distinctive style that falls between dravida and nagara architectural traditions, making them easily distinguishable from other medieval temples.
  • Hoysala architecture is celebrated for its unique fusion of the Bhumija style prevalent in Central India, the Nagara traditions from northern and western India, and the Karnataka Dravida modes favored by the Kalyani Chalukyas.
  • The temples feature multiple shrines arranged around a central pillared hall, forming intricate star-shaped layouts.
  • These structures are crafted from soapstone, a relatively soft stone that allows for the intricate carving of sculptures, notably the detailed jewelry adorning the temple walls.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023