Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

UNESCO Heritage Status for Hoysala Temples in Karnataka


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hoysala Temples

Mains level: Not Much


Central Idea

  • The Hoysala temples located in Belur, Halebid, and Somanathapur in Karnataka were granted UNESCO World Heritage status, marking a significant moment for these architectural marvels.

Hoysala Temples and Their Nomination

  • Previous Recognition: The Chennakeshava temple at Belur and the Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu, both situated in Hassan district, have been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.
  • Expansion of the Nomination: The Keshava temple at Somanathapur in Mysuru district was included in the tentative list alongside the other two temples. The Center officially nominated all three as India’s entry for 2022-23 in February 2022.

Distinctive Features of the Hoysala Temples

  • Distinct Architectural Style: The Hoysala temples are renowned for their distinctive architectural style characterized by ornate designs and a stellate plan built on raised platforms.
  • Unique Material: These temples are constructed using choloritic schist, commonly known as soapstone, which is soft and amenable to intricate carving.
  • Artistic Signatures: Many sculptures within the temples bear the signatures of the artists, a unique feature in Indian art history.
  • Intricate Carvings: The doorways of these temples feature intricate carvings, showcasing the remarkable craftsmanship of Hoysala artists.

Historical Timeline

  • Chennakeshava Temple at Belur: Construction began in 1117 CE during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana and was completed in 1220 CE.
  • Hoysaleshwara Temple at Halebid: Commissioned in 1121 CE.
  • Keshava Temple at Somanathapur: Commissioned by Somanatha Dandanayaka in 1268 CE during the rule of Narasimha III.

Impact on Tourism and Future Focus

  • Global Recognition: The UNESCO World Heritage status is expected to bring global recognition to these temples and boost tourism in the region.
  • Enhancing Amenities: Authorities plan to address any concerns raised by UNESCO and focus on improving tourist amenities, including signage and connectivity.
  • Management Action Plan: A management action plan will be implemented to preserve and promote these heritage sites.

Back2Basics: Hoysala Architecture

  • Rooted in the Karnataka Dravidian architectural tradition, with its beginnings in the 7th century under the Badami Chalukya patronage.
  • Flourished during the Hoysala dynasty’s rule in the 13th century.
Temple-Centric Creations
  • Hoysalas were prolific builders of Hindu temples, dedicating their architectural prowess to deities like Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and various forms of the Goddess.
  • Star-shaped ground plans with symmetrically arranged shrines are common.
Primary Building Material
  • Soapstone, also known as chloritic schist, was the primary material used.
  • Offering a pliable canvas for intricate carvings and detailing.
  • Hoysala temples are renowned for their exceptionally detailed and ornate carvings.
  • Carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology, celestial beings, deities, animals, and intricate geometric patterns.
Distinctive Features
  • Makartorana, mantapa (both open and closed), circular pillars with sculpted figures and Sthambha buttalikas, vimana with intricate exteriors, shrine variety (ekakuta, dvikuta, etc.), kalasa crowning, salabhanjika, kirtimukh.
  • Extensive depiction of Hindu mythology, live panels featuring various subjects, stellate shrine shapes, occasional erotic sculptures influenced by the Sakta tradition.
Influence of Chola and Chalukya Art
  • Western Chalukyan influence, seen in pillar images known as “Sthambha buttalikas.”
  • Integration of Chola art, exemplified by the image of Mohini on a pillar in the Chennakeshava temple.
  • Hoysala artists adorned both pillar surfaces and tops.

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