Sunday, November 3, 2013

Salute to Hoysala Empire

Hassan… land of Jainism… and ancient Hindu history.. Keeping in view that the year was fast approaching towards the end and I had not done justice to my year Goal “Lots of Short travels”, it was decided that Diwali would be a nice time.

The places of interest : Halebidu, Belur, ShravanaBelagola. Halebidu was unique with two Hindu temples and two Jain temples – dated back to 1100 and 1300 CE. So an ideal place to start.

The route : Bangalore -> Nelamangala -> Hassan -> Halebidu -> Belur -> Sravanabelagola -> Bangalore.

Deepak’s family, his Cousin Amal’s family and my family .. two cars. Ertiga, Polo. Kids found their seat comfortable in the last row. They just freaked out…

We started by around 6:30 am.. via outer ring road, onto Yeshwanthpur, onto Nelamangala and then the four lane towards Hassan..

The first break was at Coffee day for breakfast (between Kunigal and BC cross). The coffee was good, so was the sandwich.. But the idly was Yuk… As they say in China eat like a Chinese – eat the cat/ eat the snake… never ask him to prepare Biriyani J..

Halebidu was still far away – about 100km… The road upto Hassan is good, but afterwards towards Halebidu is pretty bad with widespread potholes and a stretch of 1km over a barrage that is still getting done. For about 30km, it took us about 1 hour. On the way we also saw the ISRO Master Control facility at Hassan. Reaching Halebidu the panoramic view of the lake is beautiful sight… with small row boats floating around. Evidence that the builders of the city have thought of the water management.

The Hoysaleshwara temple is just amazing. The intricacies of the stone work and the pillars are just breath taking…. A large Mahaveera statue can also be found on the right hand side of the temple complex. ASI has also setup a small outdoor museum with the temple remains explaining each of the sculpture. Two large Monolith Nandi’s face two different Shiva deities. The temple is also characterized by lush greenery. Lots of Grass banks and tress for people to rest under. It is evident that ASI has done a commendable job in maintaining and resurrecting the temple from it ruins.

We skipped the Jain temples and the Kedareshwara temple, because of lack of time. Road from Halebid to Belur is short 16 km, but pretty much the same state as that of the Hassan Halebid road.

On arrival at Belur we had Lunch at the KSTDC hotel. Decent food, and ample parking space. The Roti and dal were the ones that I liked the most. The staff was very courteous and attended to us with courtesy even though there was lots of folks.

It was 3 by the time we ended up at the Belur Cehnnakeshava temple, walking distance from the hotel. Read the link for further elicitation of the importance and history of the temple. On entering the temple I almost felt a deja vu. It looked pretty much similar to Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur, in terms of its Vastu, vastness and temple compound.  The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, but the key part for me was the way the dome was constructed. The Keystone is actually a Narasimha moorthy piece. There are lots of celestial dancers (in the form of smaller stones) attached to the main dome. The pillars, each one of them non identical had work done as though to indicate a precision cut diamond. Smooth finish yet with lots and lots of smaller concentric circles.

The main attraction was the Gravity pillar, supposed to be used as a Lamp post, but is not been used for quite some time now. It is a 42 feet tall lamp post, the Karthika Deepotsava Stambha. It is supposed to be "foundationless" or "baseless" post is simply placed over a stone platform, this tall monolithic granite column is symbolic of the excellence of architectural science possessed by the architects. Even today this column, by its stature and stability, baffles the visitors from the world over. It is supposed to be standing on its own dead weight, therefore it is also called "The Gravity Pillar". People claim they could pass paper underneath the pillar, but in the true sense it is just a single piece of stone kept as a dead weight but has not fallen for years now…. Approaching 1000 years.. in the rains, in the wind and in the midst of acute heat wave.  

A temple pond adorns the right side of the complex. Lots of Fishes in them, which are being continuously fed by the temple staff. The outer constructions are reminiscent of the fact that it was also an asylum for the saints and visitors of the temple.

After spending an hour at the temple, we decided to head our way back to Bangalore. After much thought, we decided to do Shravanabelagola the next time around, though it was on the way. It would have been difficult to make it by the time before dark.  The road from Belur to Hassan is a nice stretch, but with a few humps in between. At Hassan town, the roads are pretty bad. The stretch up to Bangalore was good with some intermittent rains. Back to Bangalore by 20:00 hours.. Rejuvenated.. 

What irked me was only the railway cross between Yeshwanthpur and the way folks haphazardly try to make their own way by squeezing in.. Especially the Cabs and the Autos.. Sometimes I believe it was just a case of some of the auto folks being “upgraded” to drive cabs that has caused this chaos.. Not to mentions some of the “White collar” educated B*****s who think the road was laid by their forefathers.. Not even adhering to the “Queue” at the Toll booths..

Overall a Trip you must have if you are based out of Bangalore.. Kids will find it interesting as well and the drive isn't that tiring.

Next up : another short trip.. but where? Thalkad? Or Hindupur?.. options are open..

On the Highway...

Hoysaleshwara temple

The raised platform and the intricate works

Dwarapalakas.. Hands and nose have been cut off

Ganesha at the entrance 

Pranav exploring


Chenna Keshava entrance

Garuda .. bowing to the lord

The pond.

The pillars

The keystone.. Narasimha

The Gravity Pillar aka. lamp post


The entrance with rain clouds in the background