From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas
Mains level : Temple architecture of India
The Hoysala Temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnathapura in Karnataka have been finalized as India’s nomination for consideration as World Heritage for the year 2022-2023.
Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas
- The sacred ensembles of the Hoysalas are extraordinary expressions of spiritual purpose and vehicles of spiritual practice and attainment.
- The sacred ensembles of the Hoysalas at Belur and Halebid are the finest, most exquisite, and most representative examples of the artistic genius and cultural accomplishments of the Hoysalas remaining today.
[I] Belur: Chennakeshava Temple Complex
- The Chennakeshava temple complex was at the center of the old walled town located on the banks of the Yagachi River.
- The complex itself was walled in a rectangular campus with four rectilinear streets around it for ritual circumambulation of the deity.
- Construction of the temple commenced in 1117 AD and took a 103 years to complete.
- The temple was devoted to Vishnu.
- The richly sculptured exterior of the temple narrate scenes from the life of Vishnu and his reincarnations and the epics, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.
- However, some of the representations of Shiva are also included.
- Consecrated on a sacred site, the temple has remained continuously worshipped since its establishment and remains until today as a site of pilgrimage for Vaishnavites.
[II] Halebid: Hoysaleshwara Temple
- At the zenith of the Hoysala empire, the capital was shifted from Belur to Halebid that was then known as Dorasamudhra.
- The Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu is the most exemplary architectural ensemble of the Hoysalas extant today.
- Built in 1121CE during the reign of the Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleshwara.
- The temple, dedicated to Shiva, was sponsored and built by wealthy citizens and merchants of Dorasamudra.
- The temple is most well-known for the more than 240 wall sculptures that run all along the outer wall.
- Halebid has a walled complex containing of three Jaina basadi (temples) of the Hoysala period as well as a stepped well.
[III] Somnathpur: Kesava Temple
- The Keshava temple at Somanathapura is another magnificent Hoysala monument, perhaps the last.
- This is a breathtakingly beautiful Trikuta Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in three forms – Janardhana, Keshava and Venugopala.
- Unfortunately, the main Keshava idol is missing, and the Janardhana and Venugopala idols are damaged.
- Still this temple is worth a visit just to soak in the artistry and sheer talent of the sculptors who created this magnificent monument to the Divine.