The mighty yet intricate stone carvings look at me menacingly. It seems that they want to tell me some kind of a story that involves a grand history. In front of them, I feel like a little ant, trying to grasp the tales that they want to tell me. These intimidating stone carvings are part of one of the famous temples in a quaint city of Halebidu in Karnataka.
Halebidu is an ancient town in Karnataka and is known for its ornate architectural style. It was the capital of the Hoysala dynasty in the 12th Century. Now this beautiful town is a tourist spot and is famous for the mesmerising architecture. The temples or the ruins in this town are an exact depiction of the kind of architecture that the Hoysala Dynasty practised. The place is a haven for architecture students and lovers.
My first stop was undoubtedly the breathtaking Hoysaleswara Temple. As I walked up at the entrance I was instantly captivated by the amount of precise detailing that the exterior wall of the temple boasts off. The carvings are so delicate yet mesmerising that all I could do was stare. As I edged closer I could feel the statues talking to me, reciting to me a tale of a time long gone by. I stood there and tried to grasp the beauty and the word of this astonishing piece of art as much as I could.
The temple was built during the Hoysala rule and was initially named as Dwarasamudra. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
I walked inside the temple and the interior facade is as beautiful as the outside. The temple has two shrines one for King Vishnuvardhana under whom the temple was built, and another for his wife.
As I walked along the walls I made some fascinating observation about the various depictions carved into the outer walls of the temple. All of these depictions weave a story together. I could only imagine the rich legend and culture that this temple had.
There are some lovely depictions of Parvati- one showing her with her vehicle- a mongoose, another beautiful depiction is that of Lord Shiva who had defeated a demon after taking the form of an elephant. These depictions are so beautiful, it honestly feels like they will jump out of the walls and obtain life.
The influence of Lord Shiva in this town is hard to miss. I found so many photos and painting of Lord Shiva as I made my way to yet another temple dedicated to the blue-throated lord.
Kedareswara Temple was built by King Veera Ballala II and his wife Ketala Devi. The temple’s main building material is soapstone. This temple is also built on a platform- which is said to be a distinguishing factor of the Hoysala dynasty.
Halebidu is mainly famous for these two temples. But, I did have some time to kill, so I decided to be a little more adventures and drive down to Mullayanagiri, part of the Baba Budan Giri hill ranges,- which is only about 30km from Halebidu. Mullayanagiri is the highest point in Karnataka and I just had to drop everything to experience the breathtaking view.
You can easily drive to the top, but I chose to completely unleash my free spirit, and trek to these magnificent hills. The trek starts from Sarpadhari, and as I embarked on this journey I knew I had made the right choice.
The trek takes about two to three hours and is honestly one of the most enjoyable things to do. The surroundings and the atmosphere were in a jovial mood and made every effort to rejuvenate with from time to time- some times with the fragrance of the beautiful flowers, and sometimes with a refreshing cold wind. The feeling was exhilarating. As I was trekking I came across some brilliant views all surrounded by grand hills and lush green fields. The trek was truly rewarding. But, the most rewarding moment came when I actually reached the peak and jumped forward to take in the view. As I adjusted my eyes, I was spellbound to see the beauty of the place.
The view was picture perfect. I could see a small town surrounded by high green hills all laying under a light blue sky, as the fog tried to add the perfect texture. I could stand there for hours.
There is also a small Shiva Temple, once again an ode to the Hoysala Dynasty and its devotion to the Neelkanth.
Halebidu is well connected to Bangalore through highways and roads. Though a private vehicle the journey is about 4.5 hours. It is advisable to leave early morning to get the best out of the experience.
My small trip to Halebidu and Mullayanagiri was even more beautiful than I had initially imagined it to be. Halebidu first introduced me to a time when big dynasties and grand temples used to exist. It made me travel back in time and feel the stories through its astonishing architecture and stone carvings.
On the other hand, Mullayanagiri took me to a different world. It took me to a world where everything is beautiful and untouched and kept in a way that God had intended. It showed me a mesmerising view and made me feel the wonders of nature.
This is one such trip that would be etched into my memory forever.