Why should Hoysala Temples be on your list when you travel South?

Karnataka Feb 15, 2020

The Outstanding Universal Value of Ensembles of Belur and Halebeedu

The Sacred Ensembles of the temples of the Hoysala Empire, majorly in Belur and Halebid are the zenith of artistic and cultural achievements. It was the Hoysala reign when the sacred and spiritual  intersected with the secular, ordinary daily lives of people leading to a society where culture, learning, and art mushroomed like anything. Have a look at why these temples are so special?


Intertwining of Ideas

What is so unique about these temples is that they are results of ideas where human values were exchanged. Let’s dig deeper into history to understand this much better. Earlier, there were two sects of Hinduism- Shavaites (Hindu sect who worship Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (Hindu sect who worship Lord Vishnu). They were generally in conflict with each other and competed to dominate the other. In the Hoysala reign, both the sects flourished and lived together. Further, they recognized Jainism as an entirely different religion, and followers of Jainism found a place in the reign of Hoysalas. We see this recognition in the planning and architecture of the temples. Such intricate ornamentation is seen only in Jain temples of Rajasthan, which can be seen in the temples of Hoysala. This is the testimony that the Hoysalas were trying to extend the boundaries of their own religion and explore spiritual attainment. This courageous inclusivity in terms of communal lifestyle of the Hoysala rulers to go beyond the ritualistic beliefs of their religion is highly appreciated. Further, down South of Karnataka, Dravidian Style (South India Temple Style) of architecture was prevalent. But during the Hoysala reign, the temples were also inspired by Nagara Style (North India Temple Style), paving a new form of style.

Artistic Innovations

The artists who made these temples were highly creative. Basically, Hindu temples are based on rectangular plans according to ancient scriptures, but Hoysala temples are unique. They are based on star-shaped plans and have complex forms creating more jaggeredness. These temples are extraordinary works of art with their stone sculptures and carvings on the exteriors of animals, humans showing dynamic motion. Moreover, there is a poetic interpretation of Ramayana and Mahabharata, which shows the mixing of art with spirituality. The temple’s floral geometry and unparalleled skill of artists shows development and innovation in the temple architecture which can only be done after a through knowledge of mathematics and a sense of aesthetics.

Growth in Arts and Learning

And if this was not enough, Hoysalas were nowhere close to stopping. There was a grand development in culture. Literature flourished like anything when scholars wrote poetry, religious writings, and epigraphs. Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Art Classical Dance like Bharatnatyam flourished even more. Even today dancers of Bharatnatyam refer to the sculptures of female forms in dancing positions on the exteriors of the temple. The premise was not only used for religious ceremonies and rituals, but had halls and pavilions where dance and music performances happened. These temples are classic case of the marriage of faith and crown.

We know you slept during the history classes; Do pay visits to these beautiful temples and offer prayers and of course get spellbound.