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Old 21st June 2009, 20:59   #1
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Default Leisurely Trip to Hoysala Temples

I have been going without a break for nearly 2 years and thanks to the information kindly provided by Addihemmige and others, I made a trip to Belur, Halebidu and Shravanbelagola.

I have always loved to travel in Karnataka for many reasons - amiable nature of the people, the easy availability of good food and exquisite Hindu temples. I come from Tamilnadu which has a magnificent tradition of temple architecture too. Yet what I saw in Hoysala temples left me dazed in wonder.

I started with the odometer at 1932 km in Safari on 30th May at 8.30 am. Cleared the chaotic traffic of the city by 9.45 and reached Hosur by 1 pm with odometer reading 2255. Took the NICE road near electronic city and reached Hassan via Magadi road at 5.30 pm ( I told you it is a leisurely drive ). Settled down in Hotel Jewel Rock ( just as you enter the town of Hassan) for the next 4 days.

I covered Belur and Halebidu in one day. The road from Hassan to Belur is a dream to drive.

A lot has been written on the grandeur of Chennakesava Temple and the Hoysalaswera Temple in Halebid. The exquisite poetry in stone leaves you spellbound. Unfortunately I was so busy taking in the scene through the lens of the Camera that I couldn't feast on the intricate stone carvings - I ended up making a mental note that I will come again for another detailed look.

The builders of the temple had thought of minute details before executing their work in the soft soapstone. For example, their massive stone edifice had to rest on ornate pillars and the nature of the soft soapstones of which the pillars were hewn out precluded the use of cold chisels to carve out the intricate shapes they wanted. They had used lathe to shape the uniformly circular pillars.

John F.Kennedy, the late President of the United States wisely stated this -

"I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

One day was spent on the gardens of Mahatma Gandhi Park in Chikmagalur. The "thematic" picture of a lone electric post set against the backdrop of ominous cloud portends a deluge.

On our return, we were caught in a heavy downpour so typical in western ghats. About some 20 km from Hassan, We came to a grinding halt because a big tree was uprooted on to the highway. The KSTRC bus behind us managed to turn the bus around and led the rest of the traffic through a maze of narrow villege road until we reached Hassan. Initially I contemplated driving the car through a field to reach the other side of the road - but decided against that on seeing the knee deep water

One more day was spent climbing the 620 steps of Shravanabelogola to see the Bahubali monolithic stone statue. It is breathtaking too. A travel in these parts - like I said earlier - leaves you mesmerized. But the return trip posed a little problem. The dirt road from the mountain was not intended for faster pace as I found out to my dismay. I must have been around 70 km/hour when the car skidded horribly in a corner. I fortunately left the brakes alone and eased on the accelerator pedal and over corrected the skid. The squeal of the tires and the slidding Bull is scary. I managed to wrestle control after what seemed like a long time. I left lots of tire marks behind.
I realized that despite the large tread, Tata Safari still has problems with traction when asked to corner at faster speed on a mud track.

On the 5th day we had to leave for Madras with a tinge of sadness that the holiday is over so fast..

The odometer read 3441 when I reached Madras. The car returned about 14.5 km/l which indicates that the FE is increasing as the engine "matures".
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Last edited by Prowler : 21st June 2009 at 21:03.
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Old 21st June 2009, 22:33   #2
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Exquisite. These intricately carved buildings built centuries ago serves as a prime example of how rich our culture and history is. Can you please list out the temples which you visited?
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Old 22nd June 2009, 11:52   #3
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The sculptures look stunning. Who built these temples? when?
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Old 22nd June 2009, 12:02   #4
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The visuals are indeed quite mesmerizing. Awesome pics and yeah, its time we made a trip down this route. Am sure you have more pics to upload, please. We are waiting for more. Great show.
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Old 22nd June 2009, 12:45   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
I have been going without a break for nearly 2 years and thanks to the information kindly provided by Addihemmige and others, I made a trip to Belur, Halebidu and Shravanbelagola.

Took the NICE road near electronic city and reached Hassan via Magadi road at 5.30 pm ( I told you it is a leisurely drive ). Settled down in Hotel Jewel Rock ( just as you enter the town of Hassan) for the next 4 days.
How was the experience in Hotel Jewel Rock in Hassan? I had not recommended it to you because it had just changed management and didn't know how it was. Anyways, I believe you had good time since I don't see you cursing about it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
I covered Belur and Halebidu in one day. The road from Hassan to Belur is a dream to drive.
I would say the Hassan - Belur road would be among the best in the state as of now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
On our return, we were caught in a heavy downpour so typical in western ghats. About some 20 km from Hassan, We came to a grinding halt because a big tree was uprooted on to the highway. The KSTRC bus behind us managed to turn the bus around and led the rest of the traffic through a maze of narrow village road until we reached Hassan. Initially I contemplated driving the car through a field to reach the other side of the road - but decided against that on seeing the knee deep water
Where exactly were you caught in the rain? coming back from Halebid or Belur? Do you remember the place name?

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Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
The sculptures look stunning. Who built these temples? when?
These were built by the Hoysalas during the 11th or 12th century
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Old 22nd June 2009, 14:05   #6
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The whole road from Neelamangala to Hassan used to be a dream to drive. I guess 4 laning is happening now. Any updates on road conditions.

Belur and Halebid are probably the most intricately carved temples I've ever seen. Hampi is great in terms of grandeur and the sheer size of the ruins.

Surprisingly Belur and Halebid have been well maintained.

Hoysala Empire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia is a good read on the Hoysala empire.

The road from Hassan and Belur was widened and laid a few years back. I remember driving to Belur twice in a span of 2 yrs and road work was still on during those two visits!!

I hope you took a guide, otherwise you would have missed a lot of the finer details. Sometimes the guides do go overboard with their stories but its worth the 50-100 bucks you pay for them.

There are also a lot of erotic sculptures in Belur and Halebid. They are interestingly placed at a higher level than our usual line of sight.

Halebid has two temples. Most of the tourists visit one and don't go to the other. There is also a jain temple which is really good though slightly neglected. This is right next to the two temples.
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Old 22nd June 2009, 15:12   #7
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Thanks Everyone.

@Addyhemmige
Quote:
How was the experience in Hotel Jewel Rock in Hassan? I had not recommended it to you because it had just changed management and didn't know how it was.
I was a little tired when I reached Hassan, so I took the first hotel which came into view on entering the city - Hotel Jewel Rock. This hotel I remembered from someone in TeamBhp. The place is clean and has 2 restaurants - Veg and non-veg with bar attached. I wanted a large car park within their premises - so this hotel served well.

I was caught in the deluge when I returned from Chikmagalur to Belur. The tree was uprooted in the highway from Belur to Hassan.

The photographs are largely from Chennakeshava temple in Belur ( For the History lovers - a masterpiece built during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD to commemorate the victory over the Tamil Chola Governor at Talakkad. The temple took about 106 years to complete. Unfortunately the wooden sculptures and wooden engravings were burnt down by the Moghul Governor from Delhi. Some of the beautiful sculptures of the women in the central hall were inspired by the Queen Shantala who was herself a consummate dancer. The outer walls depict Vishnu in all his avatars.) and Hoyasalashwara Temple in Halebidu which is dedicated to Shiva.

@csentil - The roads from Nilamangala to Hassan is good except in some patches. Another thing I noticed is accidents are rarer in this part than elsewhere - probably because the people here seemed to be in no hurry to go anywhere in a short time. Or am I too biased in favour of this region ?

Once again, thanks a lot for all who have chipped in with their comments.
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