Hassan is the most convenient base for visiting Belur and Halebid, once the capital cities of the Hoysala kings.
Great warriors, the Hoysala kings also patronised culture and art. The artisans were encouraged to rival each other and even sign their names on their work of art.
Working in stearite gave the sculptors the opportunity to use intricate detail since the rock is initially comparatively soft when quarried but hardens with exposure to air.
The temples, built as prayers for victory in battle, are small but superbly conceived.
What to see
Shravanabelagola : 51 kms south-east of Hassan, this is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centres. Here is the 17m. high monolith of Lord Bahubali - said to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue. Thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the ‘Mahamastakabhisheka’. A spectacular ceremony - held once in 12 years - when the 1000-year-old statue is anointed with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next Mahamastakabhisheka is due in 2005. Shravariabelagola is 158 kms from Bangalore.
Belur: This quaint hamlet - 38 km from Hassan is located on the banks of river Yagachi. It was once the capital of the Hoysala enpire, today made unforgettable for it’s excuisite temples. The Chennakeshava Temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala, architecture. It took 103 years to complete and you can see why. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. Elephants, episodes from the epics, sensuous dancers…. they are all there - awe-inspiring in their intricate workmanship. Inside are hand-lathe-turned filigree pillars. The Yeeranarayana Temple and the smaller shrines are well worth a visit.
Halebid : 27 kms north-west of Hassan and 17 kms east of Belur is Halebid. What astounds one about the Hoysaleswara Temple here is the wealth of sculptural details. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of gods and goddesses, animals, birds and dancing girls. Yet no two facets of the temple are the same. This magnificent temple guarded by a Nandi Bull - was never completed, despite 86 years of labour. Belur and Halebid are 222 and 216 kms from Bangalore.
Rail: It is well-connected by road and rail to Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore.
Road: Motorable roads connect Hassan to Mysore, Bangalore.
Area Code: 08172