Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Halebid - Where Stones speak to you!!

We were awestruck.

Words fail to describe the magnificence of Halebid or Halebidu. It should be seen and savoured.

Going to Halebid was a decision taken in a whiff on the last weekend. The plan was to drive very early in the morning on Sunday and capture the beauties of Halebid in camera in morning light. We wanted to spend three hours to get into minute details of the sculptures. We were doing this detailed exercise for the first time. Not rushing through this time.

We were going there after ten years.

We came back awestruck at the outstanding beauty of the sculptures not seen anywhere in the world. We had seen beautiful sculptures in Khajuraho. But, the details of Halebid in the state of Karnataka in South India is way beyond imagination. You wonder whether it is stone or wax. How can anyone reach such perfection?

As the famed historian and architect George Michell writes in the "Blue guide" on South India.

" The magnificence of these sculptures is "Unsurpassed" anywhere in the world"

How true. It is to be seen to be believed

The wonder of sculptures in Halebid was aptly summarised by KUVEMPU, the late poet laureate of Karnataka. A great poet of India, KUVEMPU as he was known, Dr K V Puttappa wrote thus in Kannada amazed at the wonders of Halebid.

ಬಾಗಿಲೊಳು ಕೈ ಮುಗಿದು 
ಒಳಗೆ ಬಾ ಯಾತ್ರಿಕನೆ 
ಶಿಲೆಯಲ್ಲವೀ ಗುಡಿಯು 
ಕಲೆಯ  ಬಲೆಯು!

Translating this in English - pardon my translation - will read like thus......

Oh thy traveller
step in with prayers on your lips
hands folded in reverence
this is just not a temple of stone
but a wonder of art!

Now, without wasting time, please have a feast for your eyes.........I could not resist to post these many pictures. They are just lovely.

Still there are many in the memory stick!

The Temple complex as seen from Museum
The lovely exteriors of the temple
The temple built on a pedestal and supported by carved pillars
Nandi Mantapas (pavillions) opposite the main shrine
Nandi mantapa with carved pillars
The Eastern or main entrance

The main entrance with beautifully carved Dwarapalakas on either side of the door
A panoramic view of the eastern side of the temple with carved pillars and stone carvings
Close up of the walls. Notice the carvings on the pedestal and immediately on top of it
Carvings on the wall - Varaha, Trimurti, Narasimha, Shiva
Wow! A beautiful capture of the wall
Shilabalikas......look at the symmetry!!
The details on these arrays on the outer walls are just mind boggling .....it celebrates epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, victories of Kings, weddings, festivals..........list is endless
Gods, Shila balikas in different postures
Beautiful carving on the lintel at the entrance of the temple
Myriad figures on the pedestal of the temple

The southern wall embellished with array of sculptures - Notice the Ravana lifting Kailasa and Shiva - Parvati on Nandi

Let us now come to individual sculptures
Lord Ganesha
Mahishasura Mardini
Shila balika - Notice the exquisite carving of her robe under the knee.......all in stone!!
Dwarapalaka - Notice the detailed carving of his dress!!
Lord Krishna playing flute- Muralidhara
Lord Surya - Notice the seven horses which draw his chariot the bottom!
Shila Balikas under a tree - Notice the elaborate foliage of tree carved! Outstanding!
Lord Krishna Again as Govardhana Giridhari - Lifting Govardhana Mountain to save his folks. 
Lord Shiva in Dance pose
Shila Balikas
Lord Vishnu in Varaha Avatar
Lord Vishnu in Narasimha Avatar
Garuda - Look at the detailed embellishments!!
Trimurti- Brahma Vishnu and Maheshwara
Is this Parvati under foliage? - Also notice the beads in the finger!!
A nude and voluptuous dancing girl!
A drummer - Notice the intricate carving of the strings of drum!
Is this Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi or king and Queen??
Lord Vishnu
Brahma - Notice the neatly carved beard!!
Ravana, the demon king lifting Mount Kailash. Notice detailed carving of mountain including Shiva - Parvati on top!!
This is the ultimate perfection of sculpture. Notice the girls robe and the wrinkled pattern!!!
Dwrapalakas in front of Hoysaleshwara shrine - Notice small skulls woven beautifully into the sculpture
Magnified version
Interior of the temple. Notice the beautifully carved pillars

Beautifully carved pillar
Minute details of Ramayana on the pedestal
Ramayana - Battle between Rama and Ravana. Notice the array of arrows!!
Piece de resistance - A few erotic sculptures in the temple!! first time we ever saw this in a Hoysala Temple

Travel Tips

Getting there

Halebid is at a distance of 220 KMs from Bangalore and 185 KMs from Mangalore in the state of Karnataka in South India.

By Air - Though nearest airport is Mangalore, Bangalore is a convenient hub with better connectivity. 

By Bus - There are numerous buses plying between Bangalore and Hassan. Halebid is 40 KMs from Hassan and there are frequent buses from Hassan. There are few direct buses to Halebid from Bangalore as well.

By Road - Best option. The road between Bangalore - Hassan has improved and you have a four lane highway for 60% of the distance. The remaining part is being done but the road condition is very good till Hassan and beyond till Halebid. Suggest take the Belur road to reach Halebid rather than the direct one from Hassan.

By Train - Not recommended unless you are a die hard fan of train. You can take Bangalore - Mangalore trains from Bangalore and then take bus from Hassan.

Stay Options

The nearest stay option is Hoysala Village resort. But there are good options in Haasan and Chikmagalur. Halebid can be comfortably explored making either Hassan or Chikmagalur as base. For more information you can look at the post on Chikmagalur here.


Other Information

a) Invest at least three hours to explore Halebid. 

b) There are few guides available at the entrance to temple who can be helpful. They charge Rs 300. But please go beyond what the guides tell and show and explore Halebid on your own. You will not regret it.

c) If you are keen on Photography, go there early. The early morning sunlight lights up the eastern part of the temple beautifully which helps take nice pictures.

d) There are few eating places in Halebid. If you are hungry, these are the only option.

e) The small shops in Halebid sell excellent bananas. Try it.

f) The museum has some excellent exhibits and entrance fee is Rs 10. Go for it.

g) There is a small lake next to the heritage site which has boating facilities. If you want to have a boat ride, you have a chance here.

h) Don't forget to visit the Jain temple and Kedareshwara temple which is close to main site.

i) Halebid can be comfortably combined with a visit to other excellent Hoysala temples Belur and Belavadi. 

If you need help in planning a trip to Halebid, you are welcome to write at poorna62@gmail.com. Happy to help.

Useful Links

For more details on Hoysala Architecture and temples please look at this nice post in Wiki - Hoysala Architecture

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