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Halebid, Carved in stone

by on July 31, 2007

halebid-temple.jpgHalebid is one of Karnataka’s open secrets. I have met people who have actually been to Halebid. It was the capital of the Hoysala Empire, which flourished in the 12th and the 13th centuries, and in its olden days it used to be called as Hale Bidu and Dwarasamudra, gateway to the sea. It is a town where one can walk, however it is one of those deserted places that unexpectedly comes upon you round a bend in the road, and surprises you with its charm. It is surrounded by fields which now cover the area of what used to be a large tank providing irrigation to the surroundings areas. On clear days from the road you can see the Gomateswara statue at Sravanabelgola looming in the distance. In Halebid you can walk around the temples, admire the carvings and breathe deeply. The main attraction is the Hoysaleswara Temple, which comprises of two temples joined by a single platform. The second temple is the Shantaleshwara Temple. They took more than 100 years to build and are still incomplete. This temple is set in a pristine lawn and the restoration work done on the temple gives one an impression of impeccability. The best part of Halebid is its finely executed carved sculptures. Along with Khajuraho and Konark, Halebid is one of those temples with ornate carvings, which are precisely done. The temple although incomplete resembles a finely engraved casket. halebid.jpgSome of the sculptures are actually hollow, rather than being simply carved onto the walls. Vastu shastra has been followed to make the temple extremely comfortable even in hot weather. One wall, for instance, is completely solid to block out the afternoon sun, whereas the other has numerous perforations to allow air and light to enter without increasing the temperature inside. The resultant inner space is cool, dim and lovely. The Kedaerswara Temple is equally ornate but large portions of the temple have collapsed. It has star- shaped pillars and carved ceilings. Basadi Halli, a group of Jain temples famous for its pillar, which is so highly, polished that they resemble mirrors. Although this complex consists of three temples, the famous is the Parswanathaswamy Temple, which has a 14 ft high figure made of black stone. The temples are open all day long and there is no entry fee. A guide would take Rs. 125 – 250 depending on the size of the group. In Halebid you can stay at Mayura Shanthala, Tourist cottages. Also try Malnad food in Hassan, the ragi balls with mutton or vegetable stew are quite different from the Keralite versions of the same dishes.

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