Halebid–The City Of Hoysala Ruins
A wealthy city and the capital of the Hoysala dynasty, Halebid actually means a ruined city. This city is best known for the remnants of the grandeur and excellence that can be associated with the Hoysala epoch. It is also home to the renowned Hoysaleshwara Temple in honor of Lord Shiva that is a famous pilgrim spot. Halebid is at a distance of 32 kms from the city of Hassan and 17 kms from Belur. It is well connected by air, rail and roadways, the nearest airport being Mangalore and the closest rail station at Banavara.
In the 12th and 13th centuries Halebid was the capital city also referred to as Dwarasamudra. The Hoysaleshwara Temple stands as the epitome of Hoysala art and architectural excellence. Walls of this temple are adorned with beautiful and intricate sculptures of many deities, animals, birds etc. But the faces of the temple are vastly different from each other. It is interesting to note that despite nearly 86 years of hard labor, the temple was never officially completed.
The temple was built by the Chief of Staff of Vishnuvardhana Ketumalla and each in Belur and in Halebid the shrine contains a Shiva lingam. Vishnuvardhana incidentally was also the man behind the famous Chennakeshava Temple in Belur. A mandapam with a bull or Nandi finds a place before each of the Hoysala shrines. A statue of Surya with his seven horses has been established behind this.
Despite its tales of grandeur and rich cultural heritage the city fell a prey many a time to invaders who looted and plundered it of all its wealth reducing it to virtually rubble. It was then that the Hoysalas made a conscious decision to shift their capital city elsewhere and that is how Belur grew in importance. The Hoysaleshwara temple continues to house two shrines dedicated to Vishnuvardhana and his wife Shanthala Devi respectively. This style of temple architecture is called the Vesara style that had been the forte of the Chalukyas and reached its pinnacle during the reign of the Kalayani Chalukyas.
Thus the temples like Hoysaleshwara and Kedareshwara and their architectural brilliance mesmerized thousands and kept attracting pilgrims year after year. The rich cultural background of this city makes it a famous tourist destination and its connectivity with the other remaining cities like Belur; Hassan etc have contributed to a flourishing tourism industry in the state. A museum of busts and statues recovered from the ancient period by the Archaeological Department has also made this a popular tourist halt. And besides the renowned Hoysaleshwara Temple, there are many Jain temples in and around Halebid like those devoted to Shantinath, Adinath, and Parshwanath etc.