History enthusiasts take note! On your next trip to the state of Karnataka, ditch the mainstream tourist hotspots, and visit the unexplored ancient towns of Halebidu and Belur in Hassan district, instead, for a hearty dose of Hoysala architecture, while maintaining social distancing. By Angira Kar
Halebidu and Belur, the two historic towns located in the Hassan district of Karnataka, which were also capitals of the Hoysala Empire between the 10th and the 14th centuries, and were once invaded by the Mughal emperors, now take pride in being one of the most underrated destinations in India. The structures here built are completely different from one another, and they beautifully flaunt the Hoysala architecture that’s known for its marvellous storytelling with an intricate depiction of Hindu mythology and its unique flat rooftops. A two-day-long trip is good enough to explore these towns located at a distance of 27 kilometres from one another.
Let’s find out what each town has in store for visitors.
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This town is home to the Hoysaleswara temple, which is the most magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Its elaborate walls wear the stories of various mythological Gods, creatures and brave Hoysala soldiers in the form of beautiful sculptures. The construction of the temple was carried out for a period of 80 years, with Monolithic Soapstone and Chloritic Schist, as its central elements. Another tourist attraction in this town is the Archaeological Museum, which comprises of countless sculptures, friezes, lintel units, inscribed pedestals and excavations from around the area.
The 12th-century temples at Belur adorn carvings from ancient literature and teachings such as the Puranas, and the Upanishads, and of various mythological characters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, all over the interiors and exteriors. Its Chennakeshava temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the most beautiful temple here and has sculptures of Hoysala kings and queens all over. About half an hour from Belur lies the Yagachi Dam, which not only has the best structure, but also the best water sport options in South India, such as, jet skiing, speed boat ride, bumper ride, cruise boat ride, banana boat ride and kayaking.
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The Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru, and the Mangalore International Airport, both lie approximately four hours away from the towns of Halebidu and Belur. Whereas, if you are taking a train, Hassan Railway Station is just an hour away.
For a comfortable stay, you can check out options such as Gateway Chikmagalur, Hoysala Village Resort, Hirvate Estate and Water View Holiday Retreat. From full housekeeping to fine-dining, separate lounge bars, spa services, and cosy rooms, these hotels and resorts have all the luxury you can imagine.