Weekend trip to Belur and Halebidu

Weekend Trip to Belur and Halebidu (2024)

Are you looking for a captivating weekend getaway? Explore the architectural wonders of Belur and Halebidu! Embark on a journey through time as you marvel at intricately carved temples and rich historical heritage. Discover the exquisite craftsmanship of the Chennakesava Temple in Belur, adorned with spellbinding sculptures.

Then, wander through the ancient ruins of Halebidu, home to the majestic Hoysaleswara Temple, showcasing stunning Hoysala architecture. Immerse yourself in the beauty of these heritage sites, where every corner tells a story of bygone eras. Plan your weekend escape to Belur and Halebidu for an enriching experience filled with culture, history, and architectural marvels.

Two iconic Hoysala temples in Karnataka are the Chennakeshava Temple in Belur and the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu. These magnificent structures serve as enduring symbols of the Hoysala dynasty, offering glimpses into a bygone era of rich cultural heritage.

Belur temple

Revered by visitors far and wide, both temples stand as a testament to their creators’ architectural prowess and artistic finesse. While I have frequented the Chennakeshava Temple numerous times, my visits to the Hoysaleswara Temple have been fewer yet equally memorable.

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About the Hoysala Dynasty and Temples

During the 10th to 14th century, the Hoysala dynasty held sway over Karnataka, India. Initially centred in Belur, the capital later shifted to Halebidu. The dynasty’s roots trace back to Malenadu. This period is pivotal in the history of southern India, marked by remarkable advancements in art and architecture. The Hoysalas left an indelible mark with their construction of numerous exquisite temples renowned for their extravagant architecture.

Interestingly, Halebidu was once known as Dorasamudra.

It’s estimated that the Hoysala rulers erected between 1000 and 1500 structures, though only about 100 temples have endured time. Among the most renowned are the Chennakeshava temples at Belur and Somnathpura and the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu. Additionally, notable temples can be found in Arsikere, Belavadi, and Amruthapura.

Read – Hoysala Temple Trail in Arsikere and Chennakesava Temple in Somnathpura.

About Chennakeshava Temple

Belur, nestled in the Hassan district of Karnataka, India, is renowned for its splendid Chennakeshava Temple. Erected in the 12th century, this architectural masterpiece is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, epitomizing the grandeur of Hoysala architecture. Referred to interchangeably as Kesava, Keshava, or Vijayanarayana Temple, it is a vibrant Hindu shrine and a significant Vaishnava pilgrimage destination.

Commissioned by King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty in 1117 CE, the temple’s construction spanned three generations, culminating in its completion after a remarkable 103 years. Adorned with intricate sculptures, the temple precincts offer a vivid glimpse into 12th-century life, showcasing depictions of dancers, musicians, and tales from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Belur is often likened to the Banaras of the South, reflecting its spiritual significance.

Within the temple complex, two structures stand prominently. Initially named Vijayanarayana and Chennakeshava, they are now called Chennakeshava and Chennigaraya temples, respectively.

Visitors can explore the temple grounds daily from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM, with no entrance fee, immersing themselves in the divine aura and historical grandeur of this revered site.

Belur temple

History of Chennakeshava Temple

King Vishnuvardhana ascended to power in 1110 CE, and in 1117 CE, he initiated the construction of the illustrious Chennakeshava Temple. Regarded as one of the cornerstones of King Vishnuvardhana’s legacy, the temple’s main structure was finalized in 1117 CE. However, the construction and expansion of the complex persisted for another century. Tragically, King Vishnuvardhana passed away in 1140 CE, yet his successors diligently carried forth his vision, ultimately completing the temple.

Belur temple

About Hoysaleswara Temple

Constructed under the patronage of King Vishnuvardhana during the 12th century, the Hoysaleswara Temple, also recognized as the Halebidu Temple, is a testament to devotion to Lord Shiva. This twin temple houses two revered lingas, the Hoysaleswara and Santaleswara Shiva lingas. Notably, the Hoysaleswara Temple is the largest Shiva temple built by the Hoysalas in southern India.

Crafted from soapstone, the temple’s hallmark lies in its intricate sculptures, which intricately depict Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata Purana tales. Additionally, these sculptures offer glimpses into the societal customs and traditions of the 12th century.

Open to visitors daily from 6:30 AM to 9 PM, the temple charges a nominal entrance fee of INR 5 per person. Prepare to be enthralled by this revered site’s divine aura and architectural splendour.


History of Hoysaleswara Temple

Erected during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana in the 12th century, the Hoysaleswara Temple faced adversity in the early 14th century when the Delhi Sultanate armies, led by Alauddin Khilji, invaded the Hoysala Empire and Halebidu. Tragically, this invasion destroyed the temple, reducing it to ruins along with the town of Halebidu.

However, in a remarkable turn of events, the temple gained attention in the 1850s as one of the earliest subjects of survey and photography. Subsequently, efforts were undertaken to restore and repair the ruins, preserving their original structure and architectural marvels for future generations to admire and cherish.


How to Get to Halebidu and Belur?

By Road

Located approximately 212 kilometres from Bangalore city, Halebidu can be reached by car in about 4 hours and 10 minutes via the route toward Nelamangala, which includes toll roads.

Belur, situated about 17 kilometres from Halebidu, is easily accessible by car, with a travel time of just 25 minutes.

By Public Transport

  • Bus – For travellers opting for bus transportation between Bangalore and Halebidu/Belur, frequent services are available, with the journey typically lasting around 9 hours. It’s advisable to choose KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) buses for a reliable journey, as they have fewer chances of last-minute cancellations. Additional bus options can be explored on the Redbus website for more flexibility.
  • Train – Arsikere serves as the nearest train station to Belur. Travellers can board trains from Bangalore to Arsikere for convenient access.
  • Taxi – During my visit to Arsikere, my friend and I availed the services of Renuka Travel Services by contacting them at +91 98441 74172. We found their taxi service exceptional, providing a safe and friendly experience with a courteous driver at the helm.

Belur and Halebidu Tour

The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) offers a convenient one-day package tour to Belur, Halebidu and Shravanabelagoa. Priced at approximately INR 1210 per person, this bus tour departs from Yeshwanthpur in Bangalore.

Having experienced this package firsthand, I can attest that it provides a hassle-free excursion, with passengers taken care of from start to finish, returning to Yeshwanthpur by nightfall. This tour is ideal for those with time constraints, offering a comprehensive glimpse into Karnataka’s most iconic landmarks.

For a more serene experience, it’s advisable to plan your visit on weekdays and during the mornings to avoid the crowds. However, if you visit during weekends, be prepared for larger crowds and a livelier atmosphere.

Are Belur and Halebidu Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Temple towns are generally considered safe for solo female travellers, based on my experiences and those of others I’ve encountered. However, like any destination worldwide, it’s essential to exercise caution, particularly at night, and remain vigilant of your surroundings.

If you’re new to solo travelling or have queries, exploring frequently asked questions on the topic can be incredibly helpful. Whether about safety, planning, or navigating cultural nuances, these FAQs can provide valuable insights and tips to enhance your solo travel experience.


Closing Notes

If you are journeying through Karnataka, include the Hoysala temples on your itinerary. These architectural wonders are genuinely remarkable, showcasing unparalleled craftsmanship and historical significance. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting both temples if you have the opportunity, as they offer a unique and unforgettable experience.

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Weekend Trip to Belur and Halebidu (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Weekend Trip to Belur and Halebidu

    PIN for later reference - Weekend trip to Belur and Halebidu
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