Halebid or Halebidu as is locally called is the name of the ancient capital of the Hoysala Empire that ruled most of the areas now covered by the Indian state of Karnataka during the 10th and the 14th century AD. Although the capital city was originally located at Belur, it was later shifted to Halebid. Halebid is 217 km away from Bangalore or Bangaluru, the present capital city of Karnataka.
The Hoysala era accounted for stupendous growth of art, architecture and religious activities in the then southern India, whose relics are still to be found there in the form of monuments, temples and monoliths, erected in honor of Godly saints and ascetics. Even though the ancient capital of Halebid and adjoining areas were devastated by hordes of Islamic fanatics in 1326 and 1342, around a hundred or more temples miraculously survived the onslaught. The most significant of these are the Chennakesava Temple at Belur, Hoysaleswar Temple at Halebid and the Kesava Temple at Somnathapura.
Even though the Hoyasaleswar Temple, the prime tourist attraction in Halebid has remained incomplete in its construction, it nevertheless reminds one of the high degree of temple architecture that was practiced in those early days of temple construction in southern India.
While traveling to Halebid, one should make it a point to visit the following.
- Archaeological Museum located in the midst of landscaped garden bang opposite the Hoysaleswara temple that contains marvelous pieces of Hoysala sculpture.
- Star-shaped Kedareswar Temple, aptly described by an erudite scholar in ancient Indian history as “It looks more like a divine piece of jewelry than a building made by mortals”.
Excursions from Halebid: Excursions from Halebid may be made to yet another historically interesting place known as Sravanabelagola which is famous for the 57 feet monolithic statue of Bahubali which is considered to be the largest monolithic statue in the world.
Shopping in Halebid
Shopping in Halebid can be fascinating for tourists looking for stone idols, sculptures and terracotta items. Hassan en route to Belur is also a good place for shopping for curios, which are typical of the state of Karnataka.
How to reach
Halebid is accessible by air, road and rail. The nearest rail head is at Hassan (32 km) while the international airport in Bangalore is 226 km away.
Accommodation: Although accommodation in Halebid is rather limited, some of the hotels in Halebid offer a remarkable blend of tradition and modernity in food as also comfortable stay. The nearest city close to Halebid, Hassan offers a wide variety of accommodation.