History of Halebidu
Halebidu is located just 16 km away from Belur. While Belur was the capital city during the early rule of Hoysala dynasty, the capital city was moved to Halebidu from 12th century. The Hoysaleswara temple is the chief attraction in this town. It is said that during 14th century, Muslim invaders looted the temple and destroyed some parts of it and the ruined portions can still be seen inside the complex. The city attracts a large number of tourists who take on the triangular route of Belur, Halebidu and Shravana Belgola. The city had seen influence of many religions during this time. The chief temple in Halebidu is dedicated to Lord Shiva, but the influence of Jainism can be seen by the presence of many Jain Basadis in the area.
Blackstone is famous in this area and you will be able to pick up different items made of black stone here. There are lamps made of blackstone, grinding stones and other small memorabilia that can be picked up from here. You will have to go barefoot while visiting the temple complexes; hence it is better to plan a trip in the morning or after 4 pm to enjoy the carvings without haste.
Tourist Attractions of Halebidu
Hoysaleswara Temple is thechief attraction for people coming to Halebidu. The temple is believed to have been completed by King Vishnuvardhana in 1121 AD. The temple is popular for the intricate carvings made of blackstone found on the walls. There are two main temples inside the complex with one dedicated to Hoysaleswara and the other dedicated to Kedareshwara. It is believed that the temple was financed by ketamallah and kesarasetti who were two of the wealthiest citizens in Halebidu. The outer walls of the temple has a layer of elephant carvings in the base followed by lions, followed by carvings depicting scenes from epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, followed by pictures of deities.
Two big Nandis can be found in front of each of the temples. The uniqueness of these Nandis is that they are monoliths, i.e, they are constructed from a single stone. The temple was built facing a lake which was constructed almost 75 years before. The water to the lake is brought in by different channels from the Yagachi river. It is a wonderful place for a day of enjoyment. After soaking in the spirituality of the temple, tourists can relax in the well maintained lawns inside the temple complex by the side of the lake. You can hire a guide to understand the different intricate carvings on the temple and to learn the history.
There is a museum too inside the temple complex. You will have to pay an entry fee of 5 INR to gain entry into this museum. The museum has a collection of sculptures and paintings. The sculptures collection can be found on the open as well as inside the doors of the museum. Most of the entries in the museum have a brief description below them. You can also find some interesting maps among the collection. The museum remains closed on Fridays. On all other days, you can visit this place between 9 am and 5 pm.
A basadi is a place where the image of one or more of the 24 thirthankaras is depicted. In Halebidu, you can visit such a jain temple. It is located a little out of the way and not many people go there. You can get a map from the office near the museum and they can guide you on the way to go there. It is a peaceful place with amazing architecture. If you visit Halebidu, do try to visit the Basadis.