Halebeedu – The Parthenon of the East
James Fergusson, the renowned 19th Century architectural historian from Scotland described the Hoysaleswara Temple of Halebeedu as the “Parthenon of the East”. He said “No two canopies in the whole building are alike and every part exhibits a joyous exuberance of fancy, scorning every mathematical restraint. All that is wild in human faith or warm in human feeling is found portrayed on these walls”, as he went on to compare the Temple with the famous Parthenon of Greece. Another expert on Indian architecture, Percy Brown said, “Hoysaleswara Temple is without exaggeration, one of the remarkable monuments ever produced by the hand of man”
You have to visit the Temple at Halebeedu, located about 200 kms from Bengaluru to feel the emotions articulated by the two historians. The road from Bengaluru to Hassan is almost like an expressway while the stretch from Hassan to Halebeedu (about 30 kms) is single laned.
The name Halebeedu means “Old Capital” in Kannada since the Hoysala rulers moved the capital to Belur just 15 kms away, after repeated attacks from Muslim rulers in the early 14th Century. Despite these brutal attacks it is surprising to see the Temple in such glory and I was wondering how it would have looked when it was built.
Halebeedu and Belur are the “Twin Wonders of Indian Architecture”
The most important temples at Halebeedu are Hoysaleswara and Kedareswara, the two masterpieces with marvelous sculptures. It is believed that soap stones quarried from a place near current day Tumkuru about 200 kms away, was used since it was easy to chisel but attained iron like firmness when exposed to the atmosphere. Both the temples took about a 100 years to build though some parts remained unfinished. This shows the labour of love and the passion displayed by the Hoysalas to build these temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. And if you visit a Shiva temple can Nandi be left behind…..you will come across 2 huge Nandi statues as well.
Most of the sculptures depict scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Dasha Avatar and stories from
Puranas. The Hoysala emblem in the form of a lion, can predominantly be seen near the entrance of the Temples. It is better to hire a certified guide to explain the history and the story behind the famous sculptures. Do not miss the Museum in the temple premises, which is worth a visit. You will find rare sculptures displayed in the Museum, though photography is strictly prohibited. The Temples at Halebeedu cannot be described merely in words. You need to visit and get mesmerised by the architectural marvels.
Please click on this Link to view recent snaps, shot at the magnificent Helebeedu Temples.
Acknowledgement: The Tourist Guide of Halebeedu Temples