Very few places in South India have the cultural and architectural heritage of Belur and Halebid. Belur is located on the banks of river Yagachi and is known as Dakshina Banaras or ‘Banaras of the South’. Halebid is also known as Dwarasamudra or ‘The Gateway to the Seas’. Both the cities can be found near the Hassan district of Karnataka. These cities thrived for about 150 years under their rule. Belur was once the capital of their empire but under the reign of Vishnuvardhana, the greatest of the Hoysala kings, the capital was relocated to Halebid. It can be said that even though Belur and Halebid are 16 km apart, they are still considered as one.
You can find plenty of mythological stories from the Hindu doctrines carved onto the temples of Belur and Halebid. These temples were built by the renowned architect Jakkanna Acharya. The intricate illustrations from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and the Upanishads can leave you enchanted. The Chennakesava temple at Belur, the Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebid along with Asia’s tallest stone statue of Gomateshwara at Shravanabelagola in the Hassan district are being proposed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Among the many mysteries you may stumble onto here, secret inscriptions and vibrant graffiti are the most common. Backpackers and tourists will be pleased to know that tour guides can be found almost everywhere in the vicinity. They’re ever-ready to take you through the temples and elaborate on the rich history trapped in these ruins. So, the next time you plan on exploring incredible India, make sure you move Belur and Halebid to the top of that list.