India is rich in heritage and its popularity can be witnessed worldwide. Recently, the Hoysala Temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnathapura in Karnataka have been finalised as nominations from India for the World Heritage List for the year 2022-2023. The temples situated in Karnataka are collectively called “The Sacred Ensembles of Hoysala”. The “Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysala” are on UNESCO’s tentative list since April 15, 2014, and stand testimony to the rich historical and cultural heritage of the country.
Ministry of Culture released the information about nominations on PIB on 31 January 2022, “This is a great moment for India to see the Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas temples being submitted for inscription in the World Heritage List. The Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is committed to both Vikas and Virasat: G Kishan Reddy”.
Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO Vishal V Sharma, following submitting the nominations to UNESCO Director of World Heritage Lazare Eloundou took to Twitter, “#India is proud to nominate The Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas for @UNESCO’s World Heritage List! Art historians recognize the exceptional sculptural artistry of the ensembles to be among the masterpieces of Asian art. @ASIGoI”
#India is proud to nominate The Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas for @UNESCO’s World Heritage List! Art historians recognize the exceptional sculptural artistry of the ensembles to be among the masterpieces of Asian art. @ASIGoI pic.twitter.com/bu2rmDpou7
— Vishal V. Sharma 🇮🇳 (@VishalVSharma7) January 31, 2022
These temples were built under the Hoysala Empire in Karnataka between the 12th and 13th centuries. The Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura are three major temples of this style. The architecture of the Hoysala Temples is special and they have been carved out of stone. These temples are based on Ashtapada or stars.
According to Kannada folk literature, a young man named Sal saved his master’s life from a tiger by striking him with a sword. In the Kannada language “to strike” is “Hoy”. Hence, the origin of the word Hoysala is believed to be from there.
The Chennakesava Temple, Belur
Situated on the bank of the Yagachi River, Belur is a world-famous tourist place 38 km from Hassan. Belur was the erstwhile capital of the Hoysalas and was referred to as Velapur, Velur and Belahur at different points in history. The town is renowned for its Chennakeshava temple, one of the finest examples of Hoysala workmanship. Enclosed by a Prakara with a Gopurabuilt in the Vijayanagar style, the temple stands on a platform or Jagati and looks like a huge casket. The Chennakesava temple is a fine example of fine quality work of art in stone. There are more than 80 Madanika sculptures in the temple, dancing, hunting, standing under canopies of trees and so on. This temple is dedicated to the Chennakesava, the form of Lord Vishnu, where Chenna means beautiful and Kesava is another name for Lord Vishnu.
The Keshava Temple, Somnathpur
This temple is situated on the banks of river Kaveri in Somnathpur town of Mysore district of Karnataka. This temple was built in the year 1268 by Somnath Dandanayaka the general of the Hoysala King Narasimha III. This beautiful Trikuta temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna in three forms- Janardana, Keshava, and Venugopala. The temple has an old Kannada inscription that confirms all the descriptions. The temple has a stellar plan with 3 shrines and Vimanas. The walls are covered with beautiful scenes from epics, elephant figures, battle scenes and scenes to show Kanwariyas. The upper section is filled with carvings of various deities. The beautiful temple charms visitors with its architectural beauty and reminds people of the magnificent artistic and engineering achievements of the era.
The Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu
Hoysaleswara Temple, which is also known as Halebidu Temple is situated in Halebidu which is about 210 km from Bengaluru. King Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleswara built the temple from which it derived its name. The Hoyasaleswara Temple is well known for sculptures and architecture of the Hoysala period and is surrounded by ponds and lakes. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple has exclusive carvings and has a plan with two shrines of which one is for the King and one for the queen. There are about thousands of figures on the walls depicting scenes of Mahabharata and Ramayana.