Halebid (80 km)
The Hoysalas who ruled southern parts of Karnataka from the 11th to the 14th century have built more than 150 temples, each a masterpiece of creation and the temples of Belur, Halebid and Somanatha-pura are the pinnacle of this exuberant activity. Hailed as `nectar in stone' they are a tribute to that era. The Hoysala temples are built on a star-shaped pedestal and are centred on a pillared hall. The precise carving of the rounded surface of the pillars is so smooth they appear as if they are `lathe turned'. Every nook and corner of the temples pays delicate attention to the tiniest detail.
The Hoysaleshwara Temple at Halebid is one of the finest specimens of Hoysala creativity. Practically encyclopaedic in its sheer volume of carved pageantry, the temple has representations of Hindu deities, sages, birds, animals, hunting, agriculture, dance and music besides scenes of war. Two open-pillared Nandi Mandapas are situated in front of the temple. There is also a smaller temple, the Kedareswara at Halebid.
Belur (86 Km)
The Channakeshava temple at Belur which was built by the famous Hoysala ruler Vishnuvardhana in 1117 A.D. is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple was built to commemorate the king's conversion from Jainism to Vaishnava faith under the influence of Saint Ramanuja. The Gopuram of this temple is a later addition probably made by Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar. The most remarkable feature of this temple is the presence of 38 bracket figures of `Madanikas'. Beautiful, pensive, playful and amorous each figure is full of feminine grace and charm. One sculpted beauty wrings water from her long tresses and the drops of water are collected on hair ends. A thread inserted into the pupil of the eye emerges through the nose. The figures are so heavily ornamented they make us feel that perhaps the architects of the temple were originally jewellers by profession.
Halebid and Belur are only 16 km apart and Hassan is the most convenient base to visit these places, as well as Shravanabelagola. Hassan is linked by road to Bangalore and Mysore and the KSTDC runs conducted tours from Bangalore and Mysore to all the three places. Arasikere is yet another base to reach Belur and Halebid.