Hoysala Temples: Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the Hoysala kings in southern India  built distinctive temples…

Hoysala Temples: Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the Hoysala kings in southern India  built distinctive temples characterized by a star shaped base built up with a complex profusion of images intricately carved from soapstone (chloritic schist) running in parallel lines along zig-zag walls.

We first visited Halebid, in the Hassan district of Karnataka. After this ancient city was sacked twice by the Delhi sultanate, the capital was moved to Belur where the carvings appeared even finer in detail. One dancing figure has a bangle that moves up her arm. My favorite is the figure of Arjuna, the Pandava prince, aiming an arrow accurately into the eye of a spinning fish overhead, by looking into its reflection in a pool of water -my son’s name is Arjun 🙂 The big Nandi, or bull, is carved out of a single stone. The temples have been proposed to be UNESCO heritage sites..I’m surprised that they are not already.

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66 Responses to Hoysala Temples: Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the Hoysala kings in southern India  built distinctive temples…


  1. They look in good shape!  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it here.

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    I hope there is a next time, Linda Hedrick ! If not, enjoy the photos in a G+ travelogue 🙂

  3. Samia Elsaid says:


    This is so unique ,beautiful building 🙂


  4. Thanks for sharing, Rajini Rao, and yes, there has to be a next time!

  5. Mary W. says:


    Amazing artwork & wonderful share Rajini Rao!

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    It was hard to select which photos to include, Mary Owens , each carving was so unique.

  7. Eric Hiatt says:


    Incredible blend of art and architecture. Thanks Rajini Rao! I want to go there.

  8. Mary W. says:


    I can understanding why given how beautiful each photo is Rajini Rao. Your children are sooo blessed to travel the world with you, Rajini!

  9. Vineet kumar says:


    nice collection and thanks for the information

  10. Rajini Rao says:


    Meghana Ramachandra , we left Bangalore in the morning and were there by early afternoon on the way to the Malnad district. Yes, I did see that maiden..and so many more!

  11. Chad Haney says:


    When looking at carvings in SE Asia, it interesting to see the influence from India. Nice pictures Rajini Rao the family photos were sweet too. I hope your son is over his cold. I’m just starting to catch one.


  12. South India,karnataka in particular is rich in temple architecture. thanks for the vijayanagara, chola, pallava …. dynasties….

  13. Rajini Rao says:


    There is a continuum of style from southern India to SE Asia, very true. Notice my bare feet, Chad Haney (no socks!). This cold going around is a persistent one..he is coughing now. Hope you get better soon..I’ll send you some hot soup!

  14. Chad Haney says:


    It hasn’t really kicked in but I’m sure I’m catching something. 😦 Thanks for the virtual soup.


  15. Nice photos and excellent works. They don’t make it like that anymore.

  16. John Baez says:


    Great pictures and great information… but it’s your use of boldface to highlight defined terms that really makes me swoon. 

  17. Rajini Rao says:


    John Baez , seriously? Haha, must be all those years spent teaching. Med students have a strong desire for bullet points and important terms.


  18. what makes me amaze about this is… that the small pictures at the bottom of the bigger ones are telling you about a story …slide by slide 

  19. Terry McNeil says:


    The skill and artistry used to make such beautiful buildings, is it me or is that such a rare thing to find now?


  20. What a fantastically intricate set of carvings!  In person, these could take days of devoted inspection to follow the stories expressed here.  Thanks for giving us all a glimpse, Rajini Rao .

  21. Rajini Rao says:


    My pleasure, William McGarvey . The pictures don’t really do the place full justice, IMO. Terry McNeil , the patience and will power for this level of intricacy seems to have gone. I see new buildings coming up where I live, and they are so boring!

  22. Liz Krane says:


    I can only imagine how incredible it looks in person! It must be overwhelming, with so many beautiful designs packed into every square inch of the place!

  23. Mark Hogan says:


    This takes me back years ! Are there still all the Giant Fruit Bats hanging out in the surrounding trees ?

  24. Rajini Rao says:


    Funny you should mention the fruit bats, Mark Hogan ! We stopped for lunch in a town called Hassan, close to the temples. There were trees simply festooned with large bats…I had no idea that bats were indigenous to the area.

  25. Mark Hogan says:


    I recall Hassan well ! Fruit Bats and cheeky wee monkeys that stole my bananas.

  26. Rajini Rao says:


    Heehee, love those little monkeys 🙂 I hope to post my pix of the Western Ghat plantations (rubber trees, cardamom and monkeys) sometime.

  27. Tom Lee says:


    Exotic, intriguing and mysterious ! Reminds me a scene from Indiana Jones and the temple of doom.


    …Kali ma….


    kali ma

  28. Kawthar A says:


    Sheeesh i think you just got more than 25 notifications from me, but sorry i couldn’t resist it. 😛


    Nice album, great history, and above all that great detailed carvings.Thanks, i enjoyed every single pix. 🙂

  29. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks, Kawthar AL ABDALLA ! No worries, I’m thrilled when someone likes a photo or post of course 🙂


    Tom Lee , I remember that scene well! But we don’t eat monkey brains in India :O


  30. It’s quite a sight now, but when it was new, it must have been astonishingly beautiful.

  31. Rajini Rao says:


    Kevin Marshall , with the courtyards filled with people dressed in the costumes of the era, music in the air…

  32. Rajini Rao says:


    aathman a.v. , nice view of the Belur Temple. The courtyard looks larger in the panorama.

  33. Deeksha Tare says:


    Great album Rajini Rao , great place too! I’ll make it a point to visit.


    Quite reminiscent of Konark sun temple.


  34. Stunning photos Doctor. Everything looks professional.

  35. Ravi Teja says:


    Very informative photos


    tnx for sharing Rajini


  36. have you been to somanathpura near mysore, another magnificient monument of hoysala style of architecture, worth a visit

  37. Rajini Rao says:


    Next visit, guruprasad .g.l , I’d love to see Somnathpura too!


  38. Rajani, I shall share some of my pics during my visit from 08,

  39. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks, guruprasad .g.l . Tag me on your post so I don’t miss them.

  40. Rajini Rao says:


    Fantastic architectural photos from guruprasad .g.l from a related site in Somnathapura. Please take a look and admire: https://plus.google.com/102053516569622808626/posts/KnamTDggX5q


  41. Hi Rajini Rao  love these! Really great photos and such a beautiful place.. must go- one day 🙂

  42. Renjith Babu says:


    Wow wonderful thax for the promotion of our very own history…..


  43. +Gnotic Pasta  Rajini Rao 


     The monuments were made from Soap Stone – Typically very easy to work with as fresh rock, but hardens on exposure to atmosphere.


    More descriptions:


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/chennaihari/sets/72157603277457762/


    On soapstone:


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapstone


  44. The cooling is due to Joule Thomson effect. You feel this effect in most of the bigger temples near prime tower (Raja gopuram).

  45. Renjith Babu says:


    My dear friend the Jules Thompson effect came later these are centuries old monuments……still they were indulged with science n technology!!!!!


  46. Of course Sir.I don’t deny, our ancestors are in no way inferior to. But we came to know that only by that effect. Thanks for your comment.


  47. Amazing…thanx for sharing 


  48. nice ranjini.i am shri wking in webdunia chennai.It is a nice temple.I like it so much and i m also visited…

  49. Vijay Ashk says:


    great please………..jai shanker…


  50. i tell my friends that if they want to understand how ancient greek temples worked, they have to visit india, not greece.  ancient greek temples were also painted in wild colors, just as in india today

  51. Rajini Rao says:


    I would love to visit Greece nomad dimitri ! We had a trip planned, combined with a conference on Crete..unfortunately on the fateful 9/11. Hope to reschedule that some day. 


  52. Rajini Rao the ancient temples actually had the same sort of tiny dark rooms inside as the indian ones do & butter & incense were burned


  53. U beautiful pic…………

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